MiB: Michael Lewis on Pandemic Planning



This week, we speak with Michael Lewis, the poet laureate of finance. We discuss his latest book, The Premonition, A Pandemic Story. He is the author of Undoing ProjectMoneyballFlashboysBig Short, and so many others. We discuss how the United States was the best prepared nation in the world for a pandemic, yet allowed a variety of its institutions to fail.

Our conversation packs a lot into a single hour: how the government transitions from one administration to the next and the many risks that creates. His prior book, The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy, detailed this. Lewis says when he finished writing that, he nervously sat back, and waited for disaster to occur. For the next 3 years, the Administration avoided any major snafus, until 2020, when their — and our — luck ran out.

The Premonition is the story of what happens when that transition goes awry and a highly contagious, lethal pandemic arises. As per his usual modus operandi, the story is told through several fascinating characters: Charity Dean, the head of Public Health for Santa Barbara (and then California); Carter Mescher, the Bush Administration who created the pandemic response playbook; Joe DeRisi, the MacArthur Fellow who heads the CZ Biohub research lab.

His published books are here; A transcript of our conversation is available here Monday.

You can stream and download our full conversation on iTunesSpotifyStitcherGoogleBloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.

For more background on our interview, as well as his 60 Minutes appearance, see this.

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business next week with Danny Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. His empirical findings with Amos Tversky challenge the assumption of human rationality prevailing in modern economic theory, and established a cognitive basis for common human errors. His book, Thinking, Fast and Slow was a best-seller; His latest book is just out Noise: A flaw in human judgment cowritten with Oliver Sibony and Cass Sunstein.



Michael Lewis Books


The Premonition: A Pandemic Story

The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy by Michael Lewis


The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis


Coach: Lessons on the Game of Life by Michael Lewis

Flash Boys by Michael Lewis


The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis



Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis


The New New Thing : A Silicon Valley Story by Michael Lewis

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis


Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street by Michael Lewis



Coach: Lessons on the Game of Life by Michael Lewis

Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood by Michael Lewis


The Money Culture by Michael Lewis

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis

Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity by Michael Lewis


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