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 Ronald 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.