Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Created the Worst Financial Crisis of Our Time

Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Created the Worst Financial Crisis of Our Time

by Gretchen Morgenson, Joshua Rosner
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Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Created the Worst Financial Crisis of Our Time by Gretchen Morgenson, Joshua Rosner

A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book for 2011
One of The Economist's 2011 Books of the Year

In Reckless Endangerment, Gretchen Morgenson exposes how the watchdogs who were supposed to protect the country from financial harm were actually complicit in the actions that finally blew up the American economy. Drawing on previously untapped sources and building on original research from coauthor Joshua Rosner—who himself raised early warnings with the public and investors, and kept detailed records—Morgenson connects the dots that led to this fiasco.

Morgenson and Rosner draw back the curtain on Fannie Mae, the mortgage-finance giant that grew, with the support of the Clinton administration, through the 1990s, becoming a major opponent of government oversight even as it was benefiting from public subsidies. They expose the role played not only by Fannie Mae executives but also by enablers at Countrywide Financial, Goldman Sachs, the Federal Reserve, HUD, Congress, and the biggest players on Wall Street, to show how greed, aggression, and fear led countless officials to ignore warning signs of an imminent disaster.

Character-rich and definitive in its analysis, and with a new afterword that brings the story up to date, this is the one account of the financial crisis you must read.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250008794
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 06/05/2012
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 477,085
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

GRETCHEN MORGENSON is a business reporter and writes the Fair Game column at The New York Times, where she also serves as assistant business and financial editor. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for her "trenchant and incisive" coverage of Wall Street. Prior to joining the Times in 1998, she worked as a broker at Dean Witter in the 1980s, and as a reporter at Forbes, Worth, and Money magazines. She lives with her husband and son in New York City. JOSHUA ROSNER is a partner at independent research consultancy Graham Fisher and Co. and advises global policy-makers and institutional investors on housing and mortgage-finance issues. He was among the first analysts to identify operational and accounting problems at the GSEs (government-sponsored enterprises) and one of the earliest to identify the peak in the housing market, the likelihood of contagion in the credit rating agencies' CDO assumptions. He lives with his son in New York City.

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Reckless Endangerment 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
Mark Wright More than 1 year ago
This marvelous book lays out the sad sad story of the breakdown of our country's financial system in a very readable, logical progression. Among the better books on the subject, it lays bare the dangerous lies of Government Sponsered Entities - Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac - & the insidious relationship with the Congress, the regulators, & Wall Street.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book covers every step that took us to the road of financial disaster. It is an eye opener into the "you scratch my back and I will scratch yours". I belive we have the BEST GOVERNMENT MONEY CAN BUY. The disregard for our financial security by members of Congress who allowewd Wall Street to run out of control is amazing. Oh I forgot, the problem did not begin with George W.Bush.
JimSpencer More than 1 year ago
While many of us have had a sense about who was REALLY responsible for the debt crisis we are presently in, this book takes no prisoners. They name names, they back up their facts with honest investigative journalism and present it all from a politically neutral corner. After I read the book, I was even madder than before I read it, because the perpetrators are still in places of prominence in our society. They go on with their lives as if it were just a minor bump in the road, while the rest of us have to pay for their gross misconduct. That said, I am now a fan of Gretchen Morgenson. She is easy to read and a very knowledgeable writer.
ItsOnlyMe More than 1 year ago
The thing that smacked me between the eyes while reading this book is how great an effect corruption in government has on all of us. Our own congressman glibly spews his version of the meltdown: it was Goerge Bush's fault, and the fault of the private sector. People, according to his story, just quit spending and investing, motivated by selfishness. He refuses to acknowledge any involvement of congress in creating the 2008 economic crisis. This mantra is being repeated in Democratic circles everywhere. Reckless Endangerment gives the background, in a fascinating read, to enable one to state the case against lazy, polically convenient, and false "explanations" of the housing crisis. "Forewarned is forearmed": Multiply the corruption that led to this debacle by about 100, and that's what's going on today. Take the lessons of this book and investigate what's really happening under the Obama administration with paybacks, regulatory burdens, favoritism by the Justice Department, and the list continues. If we don't clean this rat's nest out of DC, the housing crisis will look like a walk in the park.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone should read this book. If you want to understsnd what lead to the financail crisis of 2008.
fab4fan More than 1 year ago
The way the book puts things together, names names and then gives a list at the end as to where the culprets ended up is great.
Bradley Ellis More than 1 year ago
This book should be required reading for everyone. It not only details the events and actions that lead up to our current economic crisis, it also hints at the bigger problems that face our country that of the revolving door of leadership in Washington. Read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great reporting on the financial meltdown exposing all those implicated in this man cause disaster. A reader of this book cannot look at the news and the political processes in the same way as before. Excellent job!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book twice to get all the lurid details of the greatest con game of my time. Everyone was guilty of conning Americans in the Great Real Estate Bubble. Must read if you want to know the whole truth. Ann Thompson
altim More than 1 year ago
This is the best single book explaining the crisis. It identifies the major culprits and exposes all the facilitators. Other books focus and expand on the seperate aspects in great detail but this one touches on them all. The only negative is that it focuses too much on the government housing policy that provided the fuel.
GreenvilleReader More than 1 year ago
Marvelously researched, this book explains in detail how the false ideal of home ownership for everyone, influence peddling by politicians, the public/private partnership of the GSE's (profits for them, losses for taxpayers), the banks quest for profits while trying to pretend they weren't taking bigger and bigger risks, the lame behavior of regulators and the foolhardiness and economic ignorance of the American borrower combined to tumble our economy. And, it's not over yet. Morgenson and Rosner are bright and thorough.
EclecticReaderWR More than 1 year ago
As the authors demonstrate, nothing compares in power to an idea--especially one twisted and corrupted by greedy people. The American Dream of homeownership is as old as Jefferson's idea of America and the westward movement, as powerful in the collective national mind as the ideas of the Individual and the Free Enterprise System. That in less than two decades James Johnson and a huge cast of nefarious characters was able to corrupt every one of these ideas is disheartening, but, more troubling, not at all amazing. For, as the authors show on every page, there exists a pernicious interlocking of government and big business. The irony of the story is that while we spend hundreds of billions protecting ourselves from enemies beyond our borders, those at the highest levels of our government and corporations are at work every day undermining the American dreams. The authors leave us with the cheerily true conclusion that it will happen again because, despite the wrenching melodrama of the past three years, nothing has changed and, as Charles Ferguson declared accepting his Academy Award for INSIDE JOB, none of the bad guys has been punished. On this score, there are two fellows who we should set loose to bring the many malefactors to justice: Patrick Fitzgerald (on loan only, as we still desperately need him here in Illinois, the State of Corruption) and Eliot Spitzer (flawed, yes, but forgiven and superbly brilliant and indefatigably tenacious). Sadly, another American Dream that cannot be fulfilled.
WaldoRWE More than 1 year ago
Most people don't understand that government policies and regulation led to the real estate bubble and financial colapse. Wall street only prolonged the problem by trying to solve the problem. The liberals thought that if they could help poor people qualify for a home purchase without any ability to pay the loan off, they could convert their growth appreciation to pay off the loan. Unfortunately, the false increase in demand created over valuation which finally cause the colapse. Basic economics 101.
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willyvan More than 1 year ago
This is a splendid study of the USA’s private, but government-funded, mortgage companies known as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. They were trusted to regulate themselves, which was like letting boy-racers set speed limits. The resulting bailouts have cost $187.5 billion so far. The companies have never returned any of this money - and might never do so. Their huge public funding fuelled huge executive pay, which, in these publicly chartered companies, was kept secret from the public. Fannie Mae’s chiefs left with vast bonuses and with their $24 million of legal costs paid - for defending themselves against shareholder claims. Securitisation – bundling mortgage loans together – provided huge sums of capital to lend to even the poorest borrowers. Mortgage lending companies made toxic loans to people who could never repay them. The big lie was always that the companies’ priority was the public good, in this case, the good of increasing homeownership. When the mortgage lender NovaStar collapsed, its borrowers lost, but its top two guys made $8 million, without ever being investigated. Goldman Sachs bet, very profitably, against the loans it was selling, helping itself to its clients’ money. Mortgage lending companies, banks, regulators, credit rating agencies, hedge funds, law firms, accountancy firms and Wall Street all gained. Everybody else lost. An obscure amendment, drafted by a lawyer to – who else? -Goldman Sachs, made the taxpayer liable for the debts of investment banks and insurance companies. The USA has a corporate state, run by and for corporate capital. Robert Rubin, a former head of Goldman Sachs, became Treasury Secretary. He helped to end the Glass-Steagall Act, and then became vice-chairman of Citigroup, netting $100 million in the next ten years. Senator Phil Gramm said in 1999, “We have learned that we promote economic growth and we promote stability by having competition and freedom” as the law he sponsored repealing Glass-Steagall passed Congress. In March 2007, the Federal Reserve’s Chairman, Ben Bernanke, and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, both told Congress that the subprime market problems would ‘be contained’. The authors end by forecasting that a debacle like the 2008 credit crisis will happen again, because the state decided against fixing the problem.
Wingchun More than 1 year ago
This is the definitive tome on the 2008 financial crisis. Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner name the players and point the finger of blame at the guilty and credit the few who tried to head it off.
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