S&L HELL

THE PEOPLE AND THE POLITICS BEHIND THE $1 TRILLION SAVINGS AND LOAN SCANDAL

A journalist's informed audit of the factors that brought America's S&Ls to grief. Where other annalists have focused on the predators whose buccaneering became a public scandal, Washington Post correspondent Day offers detailed, damningly documented perspectives on a wealth of political influences, putting paid to the notion that economic reverses, fraud, or junk bonds were primarily responsible for the solvency woes of thrift institutions. After providing a back-to- basics rundown on the industry's origins as a Washington-favored source of residential mortgages, she addresses the rush to deregulation that began toward the end of the Carter Administration and that set S&Ls on a slippery down-slope during the 1980's. Among other unintended consequences, Day points out, the introduction of laissez-faire triggered a scramble for brokered deposits and encouraged risky lending practices that soon resulted in soaring default rates. Though obviously in extremis by mid-decade, entrepreneurial thrifts were allowed to keep their difficulties under wraps. Day attributes the paucity of disclosure and seizures to a host of causes. To begin with, Reagan-era regulators were at least tacitly enjoined to avoid action that might increase budget deficits; accordingly, they endorsed stopgap measures as well as accounting gimmicks designed to help troubled associations weather interest-rate storms and, later, to paper over capital shortfalls. In the meantime, the author explains, S&L executives and their lobbyists kept pressure on lawmakers beholden to them because of campaign contributions. While the overdue tab run up by pillaged and incompetently supervised thrifts was finally presented to taxpayers following the 1988 presidential election, government agencies, Day cautions, are bungling the salvage operation mandated by 1989 bailout legislation; the meter is still running, she reports, and the reckoning could eventually reach $1 trillion or more. An unsparing and perceptive briefing on a pocketbook issue whose complexities appear beyond the grasp of mass media.

Pub Date: March 29, 1993

ISBN: 0-393-02982-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1993

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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