'Amazed' That Irish Socialized Banks: Author Michael Lewis

The flood of cheap credit that washed over the world and created crises played out differently in each country, best-selling author Michael Lewis told CNBC Tuesday.

“The Greeks wanted to bloat their state. The banks in Greece behaved very well, were very responsible," Lewis said.

"The only reason the Greek banks are trouble is that they bought Greek government debt,” said Lewis, a contributor to Vanity Fair, which is publishing in March his article on the Irish debt crisis.

Lewis, author of "Liar’s Poker," "The Big Short" and "The Blind Side," has also covered the financial crises in Greece and Iceland for Vanity Fair.

“The Irish became obsessed with their own property market,” he added. “The Icelandic tycoons got obsessed with conquering the world outside of Iceland.”

Lewis said he found it “amazing” that the Irish government has “socialized” the banks—some $80 billion in senior and subordinated debt—and made it the financial responsibility of Irish taxpayers, who didn’t create it.

During that period, Lewis said, Merrill Lynch received hefty fees to underwrite bonds by some Irish banks. When a Merrill Lynch employee in London characterized some Irish bankers as “irresponsible,” said Lewis, the firm fired him.

Quoting one of his interview subjects in the Vanity Fair article, Lewis said, “The problem with the Irish, you push them, you push them, and they take it, and one day they go wacko on you.”