In Michael Lewis’s new book, “Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon,” he explores the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX and its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried. Lewis recounts a moment in the book when Bankman-Fried considered paying Donald Trump $5 billion to not run for president in 2024. While this claim may seem extraordinary, Lewis does not delve deeper into it, leaving readers wanting more information.
Throughout the book, Lewis seems to give Bankman-Fried a pass, even after he was charged with fraud and money laundering. The book leaves readers wondering about Bankman-Fried’s true intentions and what actually happened at FTX.
Lewis is known for his emotionally-driven stories, which often become Hollywood films. In “Going Infinite,” he provides a detailed look at Bankman-Fried’s upbringing and his involvement in the effective altruism movement. Lewis persuasively portrays FTX and Alameda Research as heavily influenced by effective altruism, but questions whether this philosophy led to negligence in running the company.
The lack of financial controls at FTX should have raised red flags for employees, but it wasn’t until $4 million in Ripple went missing that the management team and half the employees left. Interestingly, they later found the missing Ripple locked up in other crypto exchanges.
Lewis’s book leaves readers with the impression that Bankman-Fried believes the missing $8 billion that led to FTX’s bankruptcy will be found. Bankman-Fried insisted on going to trial rather than taking a plea, suggesting he believes the money will turn up.
Overall, Lewis’s book focuses primarily on Bankman-Fried’s story and personality, with less emphasis on the financial analysis found in his previous works. For a more nuanced breakdown of what went wrong at FTX and a big-picture argument about crypto, readers may prefer other books such as Zeke Faux’s “Number Go Up: Inside Crypto’s Wild Rise and Staggering Fall” and “Easy Money: Cryptocurrency, Casino Capitalism, and the Golden Age of Fraud” by Ben McKenzie and Jacob Silverman.
None of these books, however, fully address the fact that cryptocurrency, despite its fraud and controversies, is here to stay. They provide entertaining narratives but fail to offer a comprehensive analysis of the future of crypto.