Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Reckless Endangerment: A Review of a Book Review


From Rex Murphy: "If America falls, it will not be from external enemies. It will be by her own hand. That is the inescapable conclusion one carries away from a reading of Reckless Endangerment, an account of the ferocious financial crisis that exploded in 2008 and through which, to this very day, the United States is still struggling to find safe and solid ground."

So far, so good.

"First, a note about Reckless Endangerment’s authors. They are, respectively, Gretchen Morgenson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times business reporter, and Joshua Rosner, a financial analyst — solidly competent and authoritative both. Reckless Endangerment does not come, in other words, out of the wild territory of hyper-partisanship or the backwaters of conspiracism."

Well, we can also surmise where such authors' will NOT lay blame, but more on that in a minute.

"What brought on the sub-prime crisis, as the meltdown of 2008 has become known? ...The most obvious villain is the one we all know. Wall Street is everything its wildest detractors want to label it....It is a dog of greed and self-interest."

Yes, it is greed. You know, that human characteristic that was never before known to mankind before 2008. That flaw that never exists anywhere but on Wall Street.

But wait, the book is not so shallow. In a dogged desire to find the root cause, the authors dig deeper as any good NY Times reporters would do: "But equally deserving of blame are the two federal institutions somewhat infantilely known (from a phoneticization of their acronyms) as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac"....and "which elected officials did their bidding. If there is ever a Mount Rushmore for hypocrites, the face of Democratic Congressman Barney Frank — Fannie Mae’s friend in every sordid scrape (until nothing could be hidden anymore) — should be the first to go up."

That's it. Greedy Wall Street, Fannie and Freddie and the politicians that supported these institutions. There is some deep reporting for you.

Where did those characters get the trillions of dollars needed to run such a scam? Where did they get assurance that the failed bets would be made whole? Where did investors get the idea that some institutions are too big to fail?

How could almost every institution make the exact same wrong bet at the same time and in the same direction? What signals were they reacting to that told them this was OK?

Where is it that the authors do NOT lay blame? I will give one hint: End the Fed.

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