Meticulously argued and guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of the average American taxpayer.

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OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES

HOW DECADES OF BAILOUTS, CAPTIVE REGULATORS, AND TOXIC BANKERS MADE HOME MORTGAGES A THRILLING BUSINESS

A business law expert shines a pitiless light on the subprime mortgage meltdown that kicked off the Great Recession.

Remember the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s? Taub (Business Law/Vermont Law School) certainly does, and she spends the first part of her narrative exposing the roots of the 2008 mortgage crisis, revisiting the tale of Harriet and Leonard Nobelman, whose innocent purchase of a Dallas-area condo culminated in a 1993 Supreme Court decision that prevented them from modifying their home mortgage through bankruptcy. Victims of a land-flip–based investment scam, the Nobelmans were, finally, “too small to save.” Meanwhile, all the decision-makers who, in a dizzying series of transactions, fueled the Nobelman mortgage received government support, and very few suffered negative consequences. In the second part of the book, Taub traces the housing bubble and mortgage crisis of the new century, which by 2013 saw 5 million homes lost to foreclosure and another 10 million still left underwater. Despite the drag of this negative equity on the fortunes of Main Street, Wall Street appears to be doing just fine. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Taub finds the same players and practices that brought us the S&L debacle again responsible. She blisters the “legal enablers” who, by their acts or omissions, failed to corral predatory practices and wild speculation. She tells of regulators asleep at the switch and rating agencies beholden to their subjects, of acts by Congress and state legislatures, federal courts and various rule-making agencies, all of which favored the big and powerful financial players. She concludes by dispelling some of the absurd myths surrounding the entire debacle, among them that “nobody saw it coming,” that “there was not widespread fraud and abuse,” and that the real fault lies “with greedy homeowners who borrowed money and did not pay it back.”

Meticulously argued and guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of the average American taxpayer.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-300-16898-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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