How did a handful of savings and loan executives bring about one of the worst financial disasters of the twentieth century? Examining the S&L crisis as a series of white-collar crimes unparalleled in the history of the United States, Kitty Calavita, Henry Pontell, and Robert Tillman debunk a number of the myths that permeate popular understanding of this multi-billion-dollar disaster. Tempted by the insurance net and federal deregulation aimed at encouraging growth in the banking industry, S&L leaders deliberately defrauded their depositors, stole from their own corporations, and speculated on high-risk ventures with government-insured capital. What the government ultimately chalked up to failed business investments and a sluggish economy, Calavita, Pontell, and Tillman identify as a new type of white-collar crime, committed deliberately against S&L customers and the government. Using material gathered in over one hundred interviews with government officials and recently declassified documents, Calavita, Pontell, and Tillman draw disturbing conclusions about the deliberate nature of the crimes, the political collusion they involved, and the leniency of the justice system in dealing with "big money" criminals.
Kitty Calavita and Henry N. Pontell are Professors in the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine. Robert H. Tillman is Associate Professor of Sociology at St. John's University in Jamaica, New York.