Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America

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Charles H. Ferguson, who electrified the world with his Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job, now explains how a predator elite took over the country, step by step, and he exposes the networks of academic, financial, and political influence, in all recent administrations, that prepared the predators’ path to conquest. 
     Over the last several decades, the United States has undergone one of the most radical social and economic transformations in its ...
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Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America

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Charles H. Ferguson, who electrified the world with his Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job, now explains how a predator elite took over the country, step by step, and he exposes the networks of academic, financial, and political influence, in all recent administrations, that prepared the predators’ path to conquest. 
     Over the last several decades, the United States has undergone one of the most radical social and economic transformations in its history. 

·         Finance has become America’s dominant industry, while manufacturing, even for high technology industries, has nearly disappeared.

·         The financial sector has become increasingly criminalized, with the widespread fraud that caused the housing bubble going completely unpunished.

·         Federal tax collections as a share of GDP are at their lowest level in sixty years, with the wealthy and highly profitable corporations enjoying the greatest tax reductions.

·         Most shockingly, the United States, so long the beacon of opportunity for the ambitious poor, has become one of the world’s most unequal and unfair societies. 

If you’re smart and a hard worker, but your parents aren’t rich, you’re now better off being born in Munich, Germany or in Singapore than in Cleveland, Ohio or New York.
This radical shift did not happen by accident. 

     Ferguson shows how, since the Reagan administration in the 1980s, both major political parties have become captives of the moneyed elite.  It was the Clinton administration that dismantled the regulatory controls that protected the average citizen from avaricious financiers.  It was the Bush team that destroyed the federal revenue base with its grotesquely skewed tax cuts for the rich. And it is the Obama White House that has allowed financial criminals to continue to operate unchecked, even after supposed “reforms” installed after the collapse of 2008.

     Predator Nation reveals how once-revered figures like Alan Greenspan and Larry Summers became mere courtiers to the elite.  Based on many newly released court filings, it details the extent of the crimes—there is no other word—committed in the frenzied chase for wealth that caused the financial crisis.  And, finally, it lays out a plan of action for how we might take back our country and the American dream.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A concise, cogent assessment of the 2008 banking disaster and how the fallout has affected the country. In his Oscar-winning 2010 documentary, Inside Job, Ferguson did a first-class job of explaining the mess on Wall Street. This book is a longer, more detailed version that underscores the film's points, offering a broader picture of how Wall Street has poisoned the country. The author returns to the scene of the crime, where the slow rise of deregulation under President Reagan had turned into a lawless frontier by the time Clinton left office. Scrapping the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act--which kept investment and commercial banks separate--allowed investment firms to indulge their greediest desires, such as credit default swaps. Their partners in crime were Ivy League economists, who were paid handsomely for either testifying before Congress or writing papers that told banks what they wanted to hear, and ratings agencies like Moody's and Standard & Poor's, who recklessly doled out AAA ratings to the well-heeled major firms. So why didn't anyone go to jail? Well, you can't break laws that don't exist. Still, Ferguson argues that real crimes were committed, from lying to federal authorities to filing fictitious financial statements. The author makes sure we get the big picture, too: that the money-driven Wall Street culture of corruption doesn't advance American progress; it weakens it. Ferguson points to key areas--broadband technology, innovation and education--where greed has kept America lagging behind the rest of the civilized world. A deeply argued call to action from a lucid, impassioned polemicist.
From the Publisher
Praise for Predator Nation

"A tightly argued, profusely footnoted and deeply enraged castigation of everyone involved, Predator Nation isn’t just a factually unchallengeable account of how Wall Street blew up the global economy. It’s a denunciation, a call for justice and a warning."—Salon

“With Predator Nation, Charles Ferguson sets out to finish what he started with his Oscar-winning documentary, Inside Job. This take-no-prisoners account of the financial crisis follows the money, connects the dots, names names, and asks the questions our leaders still refuse to answer: how have those responsible for the crisis not been held accountable, and how can we make sure it doesn’t happen again?” —Arianna Huffington, president and editor in chief of the Huffington Post Media Group
“There is fraud at the heart of Wall Street—deliberate intellectual, business, and political deception. Charles Ferguson is in hot pursuit. Inside Job shook up the cozy world of academic finance. Predator Nation should stir prosecutors into action. And if we fail to reform our political system, you can say goodbye to American democracy.” —Simon Johnson, coauthor of White House Burning and professor at MIT Sloan School of Management
“Ferguson presents a fierce indictment of predatory activities of parts of the financial system and of the corruption of democracy that ‘big money’ financial lobbying has caused. A book well worth reading regardless of whether you fully agree or not with all of its arguments.” —Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics and international business at Stern School of Business, New York University, and chairman of Roubini Global Economics
“The definitive financial crisis book has now been written. With an encyclopedic factual foundation to support his arguments, the ever-brilliant Charles Ferguson has given us Inside Job on steroids. The collusion between Wall Street and Washington that brought our economy to its knees is set out in a way that will have steam coming out of your ears in fury.” —Eliot Spitzer

“A deeply argued call to action from a lucid, impassioned polemicist.”—Kirkus (starred review)

“Charles Ferguson's Predator Nation is nothing less than a devastating narrative portrait of the many times Wall Street has made Main Street and others the victims of its predatory schemes. In his inimitable clear-headed style, Ferguson correctly asks, why do they keep getting away with it? Why indeed.”—William D. Cohan, author of House of Cards and Money and Power

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307952554
  • Publisher: Crown Religion/Business/Forum
  • Publication date: 5/22/2012
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.27 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles H. Ferguson won an Oscar in 2011 for Inside Job, his documentary on the financial crisis, and was an Oscar nominee for his first documentary, No End In Sight, on the war in Iraq.  He is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, holds a PhD in Political Science from MIT, and has been a technology policy consultant to the White House and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, as well as to leading technology companies including Apple, IBM, and Texas Instruments.  He was the co-founder of Vermeer Technologies, which invented the web tool Front Page, later sold to Microsoft.  A former visiting scholar at MIT and Berkeley, he has also been a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.  He has written four books, and is a life member of the Council of Foreign Relations and a director of the French-American Foundation.
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Table of Contents

chapter 1 Where We Are Now 1

chapter 2 Opening Pandora's Box: The Era of Deregulation, 1980-2000 24

chapter 3 The Bubble, Part One: Borrowing and Lending in the 2000s 53

chapter 4 Wall Street Makes a Bubble and Gives It to the World 79

chapter 5 All Fall Down: Warnings, Predators, Crises, Responses 120

chapter 6 Crime and Punishment: Banking and the Bubble as Criminal Enterprises 159

chapter 7 Agents of Pain: Unregulated Finance as a Subtractive Industry 208

chapter 8 The Ivory Tower 240

chapter 9 America as a Rigged Game 275

chapter 10 What Should Be Done? 325

Acknowledgments 331

Notes 333

Glossary 351

Index 357

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2012

    Predator Nation: Hope for the apathetic and angry

    Excellent, well-researched analysis of historical events which came together to bring about the 2008 financial crash. Compelling read. Fascinating information presented passionately and convincingly. Powerful in-depth look at material which was presnted so effectively in the movie "Inside Job."

    I only wish the cover art was more in keeping with the gravity of the research and the forcefulness of his argument. The cover graphic seems to imply that the book is being written by an angry hack who thinks "shooting a bird" is somehow funny or positively meaningful.

    It certainly sends a wrong message on the depth and quality of his argument, and potentially can dissuade thoughtful readers from seriously considering reading this book.

    Don't be dissuaded.

    This is an important book perhaps inadvertently screwed by poor marketing and packaging: The sophomoric "bird" as well as the use of a title that does not directly tie it in to the movie "Inside Job", and is potentially misleading.

    The author did his job masterfully; the publisher let him down.

    A great and important read anyway.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Excellent overview of the financial crisis

    I got this book for a class, and it was actually really enjoyable. I learned a lot about the crisis; I was a bit young when it happened, so I didn't remember a lot of the details. Ferguson goes beyond simply describing history to posit what the root of the problem in the financial industry was and suggest optimistic solutions.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2012

    Anyone who reads this book will be outraged with Ferguson's deta

    Anyone who reads this book will be outraged with Ferguson's details of the atrocious, egregious, criminal, gangster, racketeering-like activity of our banks. There simply are not enough "dirty" words to describe what they get away with. JPmorganChase, for example, paid $2.2 billion for helping Enron falsify documents, paid $88.3 million for wire transfers to countries the US had embargos established, and paid $228 million for fraudulent bidding practices involving 93 municipalities, of which many have declared bankruptcy. They also were the bank involved with Madoff and MF Global. One of the most nefarious was, at the time, with Wachovia, who "only" paid $150 million for laundering $420 " billion" of Mexican Drug Cartel money and nobody went to jail. But if "you" get caught with marijuana.
    If a couple of hundred thousand Americans read this book maybe something will be done. This is the best book about our financial system as it exposes the banks for what they are - predators who actually cause negative returns to us all. In my opinion, with what Ferugson exposes, the American Dream is a myth, when the big boys got to steal to make a living.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2014

    This book explains, in extreme detail, the policies/regulations,

    This book explains, in extreme detail, the policies/regulations, incompetency of executives, and human behavior that lead up to and during the mortgage bubble and financial crisis.  He gives an analysis of how the financial industry has changed America, (and the World), to how it is today.  He also explores political and academia corruption and how it has effected American policy, education, infrastructure, and regulation.  He dives into industry, politics, and academia and naming players that have some serious ties to the financial crisis and are still leaders today (well, February 2012).  As a previous reviewer said, you will, rather should, be outraged after reading this and hopefully, more aware and informed when you go to the polls next (seriously do research on candidates for ALL political positions).

    As informative and eye-opening this book is, I didn't like the end.   Not because of his outlook of the future,but because he suggested improvements to change, but no real way of implementing them.  He does that the improvements will/would be difficult to instill, but it's kind of hot air when there's no plan of action.

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  • Posted July 27, 2012

    A decent analysis but a bit overdone on the conspiracy level

    Ferguson does an OK job of describing what has gone wrong with the American economy and the leadership thereof during the past 30+ years. There cannot be much argument that the American economic model has lost much of its former vibrancy and is now no longer the standard to which the rest of the world aspires. On the other hand, he attributes this almost entirely (as I interpret his book) to gross incompetence combined with personal greed on the part of corporate and political leaders alike, ranging from GM and US Steel's executives in the 1980s to the past several Presidents and several generations of congressional leaders. Some of the examples used to illustrate this thesis are truly staggering in terms of the level of self-interest, corruption or plain obliviousness to reality involved in decision-making. At the same time, we're left with a sense that there is some sort of massive conspiracy involving tens of thousands of political and corporate leaders to deliberately defraud the American people. A sort of sophisticated version of Zimbabwe. This is obviously nonsense. What the book fails to discuss is critical: 1. The fact that the supremacy of the US economy in the 30 years after WW2 was inevitable in itself given the fact that all other major economies had been destroyed by the hostilities. It followsjust as obviously that, as those other economies recovered, they would pose threats to American economic supremacy that would inevitably lead to a relative decline in American standards of living as lower wage rates in other countries outstripped the (undoubted) ability of American technology to substitute IT and process improvement for cheap labor. We've seen this clearly in the past 25 years, and intuition tells you that no business or - for sure - political leader could have predicted this perfectly and somehow dvised "policies" that would have avoided the trend. 2. The American system of government and its underpinning philosophy is fundamentally broken and inappropriate for a modern democracy. You can point to the failure of the effort to create a united European economy but that doesn't change the fact that the component economies that have generally been well run have steadily prospered and continue to do so today despite the politically-driven European mess (think Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, even the UK). How about a follow-up, Mr. Ferguson, that puts less emphasis on conspiracy theory, more on recognition of some of the global economic inevitabilities and MUCH MORE space devoted to how this gloomy American trend can be reversed (including some of the things mentioned in this book like modrn infrastructure development and investment in better education).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2012


    Wow am i the frst to wrie a review? Must not be a very good book

    0 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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