“Flash Boys” irritates Wall Street and even some finc’l journalists. (Two reasons to buy it.)

Best-selling author Michael Lewis (Liar’s Poker, The Big Short) has often irritated Wall Street with his readable inside takes on the goings-on of financial one-percenters. And with his latest best-seller, Flash Boys, he’s even getting under the skin of other financial writers, which I suppose makes sense since there isn’t a one of us who can come close to Lewis’s genius.

Flash Boys is Lewis’s book on high-frequency trading, a topic that, up until now, was impenetrable to the average reader. And that’s what’s so threatening to Wall Street: Grandma could read Flash Boys and get a handle on the downsides of the computer-driven trading that’s dominating the markets.

The book is mostly a look at HFT through the eyes of a Canadian trader who got tired of getting bad trade executions and pushed back against what he considered market manipulation.

But Lewis also writes about the bizarre case of a former Goldman Sachs computer programmer who got thrown into jail for taking HFT code with him when he left Goldman. That’s right — a computer nerd you’ve never heard of wound up in the slammer for taking high-frequency computer code from Wall Street, while Wall Street big shots who oversaw mortgage fraud and other disgraces that helped bring down the economy walk the streets. You can read my CNN.com column about Goldman and its former computer programmer here.

I reviewed Flash Boys in today’s San Francisco Chronicle. You can read my review here.

Is there Justice for Goldman Sachs?

Do you remember that 11-hour Senate hearing where there were more scatological references than you could find in a Beavis and Butthead movie? “How much of that sh**ty deal did you sell?” asked Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who was running a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on investigations. “Should Goldman Sachs be trying to sell the sh**ty deal?

Levin was grilling a Goldman executive about the over-the-top emails Levin’s committee had collected that made very clear that insiders at Goldman — and other firms — were privately trashing the same securities they were selling to their customers. One gem the investigators had come across: A Goldman executive emailing a colleague “Boy that Timberwolf was one sh**ty deal.”

When all was said and done, Levin asked the Justice Department to look into whether Goldman had broken the law by misleading clients. Last Thursday, Justice said it wouldn’t be bringing a case.

In my column for CNN.com today, I raise the question that’s on a lot of people’s minds: Do big banks like Goldman get special treatment? Read article