The so-called horror genre is wasted on me; Halloween is not spooky, slasher films are jejune and boring, and eldritch creatures from another dimension are about as scary as a nerd dressed up as a dwarf holding a plastic axe. I suspect that it has to do with my complete inability to lend any credence to anything supernatural; gods, auras, chakras, astrology... it's all the same.
Michael Lewis's "The Big Short" is a character-driven anthropological story about the one true source of horror: people and their astounding capacity for denial and delusion. And like a good horror book, it had the hair on my neck on end, made me make my "oh shit" face often, sometimes screaming "OH! OOOHHHHH!" like Sam Kinison, and occasionally clutching my head and moaning softly.
Imagine, if you will, a system for rating food where the food is delivered by enormous corporations to the rating companies, who depend on the goodwill and money from the corporations to live, and who are staffed by people who weren't talented enough to work for the corporations. The corporations then package the food in a way that the good food is on top and the bad food is on the bottom, which proves to be a popular way to sell food; but because it's a good way to make money, they decide to repackage the bad food in the same way and pass it off as a regular good-bad food package. The ratings companies sign off on this, because it's bad for business to say, "Hey, that food is bad," and that assumes that they could even tell that it's bad in the first place. Then the corporations start making packages of packages, so it's impossible to tell which of them has the bad food, and where it is, and in the meantime, banks are telling farmers to grow more bad food. And all this time, nobody stops to think that, hey, if people keep eating bad food, they're going to eventually get pretty fucking sick. That is a pretty decent analogy, if i do say so myself, for the 2007-8 financial crisis: massive food poisoning featuring projectile vomiting and liquishits.
Lewis definitely has his bias as someone whose first-hand experience as a Wall Street cog left him bewildered and feeling slightly dirty, but the stories told within the book are chillingly plausible, and the whole world is still struggling through the wreckage left behind. The book puts the lie to the idea that a market free of regulation will regulate itself; centers of power, unchecked, will continue to accumulate power. It would have been nice, of course, if the SEC had bothered to so much as glance in the direction of the CDO clusterfuck, because that's their fucking job. But the true problem came about when the greed that fuels Wall Street was funnelled through the magical thinking of "real estate never drops" translated into "this scheme has no risk and never will," and nobody in the money-making machine ever checked their assumptions. That's not science; it's bad business.