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McLean (The Smartest Guys in the Room) and New York Times reporter Nocera offer perhaps the best account of the 2007-08 financial crisis for hard-core business readers. In addition to examining the careers of well-known players like Angelo Mozilo, Lloyd Blankfein, and Alan Greenspan, they also investigate lesser-known financiers such as Moody's former president Brian Clarkson and Fannie Mae's Franklin Raines. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
In this well-written narrative, two knowledgeable, skilled business reporters (Forbes, Vanity Fair, New York Times) cover the evolution of housing finance and its effects for several decades preceding September 2008. They consider government encouragement of house ownership; the invention of new financial instruments (securitization of mortgages); bubbles in house prices (and mortgage refinancing); lax lending standards (liars', no-doc, NINJA, and no-down-payment loans to those who should not have borrowed); misestimates of risk (rating agencies); sloppy recordkeeping as loans were transferred; woes of financial institutions (banks, hedge funds); and the expensive (to the US Treasury) bailouts of financial institutions judged too big to fail (because bankruptcies would have frozen capital flows--systemic failure of financial markets--as actually happened briefly when Lehman failed). The authors provide enough financial details to support the narrative without burdening the nonfinancial reader. They include the major players (e.g., Fuld, Bernanke, Paulson, Mozilo, O'Neil, Greenspan) and institutions (Bear Stearns, Lehman, J.P. Morgan, AIG). Blame is everywhere and is judiciously evaluated: banks, government, rating agencies, borrowers, lenders. Smoothly written, this is the best of the general volumes on the mortgage crisis. No bibliography or footnotes but occasional text citations. Based on contemporaneous reports and many interviews. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; all levels of students; practitioners. R. A. Miller emeritus, Wesleyan University