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Behind the Housing Crash: Confessions from an Insider Paperback – September 3, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (September 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439204063
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439204061
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,103,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Great read, very informative.
Karen Ziemniak
I can't imagine a person out there who wouldn't learn at least one thing from reading this book.
Rachel T
An excellent view of the banking side of the housing crash.
Ian Vaughan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Martin Andrade on October 5, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book should be all over the place. Aaron Clarey should be doing interviews on Bill O'Reilly and CNBC. If there's justice in this world, Aaron Clarey will find himself sipping some tropical fruit drink on a sandy beach in Hawaii, living off the dividends to well timed investments made possible through his bestseller booksales.

This book is the greatest triumph of a trillion dollar "I Told You So." Some of us, in our day to day lives, will successfully predict some mundane event. A friend keeps dating the wrong girl and getting his heart broken, a Democrat proposes to raise taxes, Spike Lee produces another movie no one watches.

Few of us will ever get the honor of seeing an entire industry fail simply because they didn't take our advice. Aaron Clarey, for the rest of his life, will be able to say "I was there when banks were about to crash, and I warned them."

As an analyst for several banks and credit unions in the Twins Cities leading up to the housing bubble, Clarey was the one who would run the numbers on housing loan proposals. It was here Clarey learned of and warned about the coming housing crash, much to the chagrin of his superiors.

In his book, Clarey creates a narrative of his career in the banking industry as he moves from job to job in search of common sense. Idiot managers, thoughtless MBAs, creepy developers, greedy bankers, fraudulent brokers, all get in his way. In the end, Clarey shows how the fundamentals of banking were ignored at every level throughout the entire economy and how taxpayers ended up footing a $1 trillion bill.

The book is filled with graphs and charts showing exactly how the bubble was formed and how it burst. At times the book reads quickly as a novel, an entertaining one.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Andrew T. Steimer on September 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book provides a unique view of the problems created by local banks that lead to the housing crash. From simply bad business practices, to almost criminal negligence, you'll be amazed by Mr. Clarey's insight into the banking world. The author does an excellent job of explaining more technical terms to the lay reader, and his use of humor and writing skill makes this book a fast read. At times the author seems to harp a bit much on the idiocy of his employers, but this is understandable, in that working for nine years in multiple lending instutitions, and still seeing the same problems again and again would frustrate anyone. This book also provides some excellent anecdotes on poor leadership influencing the workplace. From tales of incompetent management that wastes valuable time, to micro-management that shatters innovation, any leader would do well to take heed and remember the basics of leadership and management that are re-illuminted in this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. Good on January 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
_Behind the Housing Crash: Confessions from an Insider_ describes the causes, symptoms and some immediate consequences of the overly optimistic bank lending policies which were common for the last eight or nine years at most U.S. banks. It is a fascinating book which I would recommend to most readers, and especially to anyone thinking of buying a house or who is entering the corporate world for the first time.

The author, Aaron Clarey, is an economics and finance consultant and teacher who worked for nine years at various banks and credit unions in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area of Minnesota. While he cites a large number of facts and figures regarding general trends in lending, home ownership, and home finances, he also writes about his own personal experiences while working in that field. This creates a very readable balance between general theory and personal anecdote. His writing style is conversational with more than a bit of humor. In the book, Clarey discusses some of the historical foundations for the current housing and banking problems, the sociological factors, historical trends, and how all those played out on a large and small scale in the banking, home-building and home-buying industries.

But there are two things which make the book a standout (and one that I will likely recommend to a number of friends and have already decided to give to one friend as a very late Christmas gift):

1) There is an amazing amount of very useful detail about the inner workings of the banking system, or at least how it is supposed to work.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. Miller on January 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
Mr. Clarey's book is best described by what's on it's cover: an insider's confession of the factors behind the housing crash. The photograph shows a bewildered bank analyst wondering who will buy all the empty McMansions before him.

Aaron Clarey worked in the financial sector analyzing loan proposals. His humorous anecdotes of bogus business deals lacking even rudimentary plans and credit documentation would be hysterical if the results weren't so tragic.

Mr. Clarey describes not only the inept management and slick lies of failing businessmen trying to get loans for their boondoggles, but also how bankers fall all over themselves to close these deals for the sake of goodwill or good commissions. He explains how bank employees who protected banks from risk only risked their jobs.

Mr. Clarey familiarizes the layman with the methods used to compile a rotten loan: bogus appraisals, cherry-picked comparables, falsified or nonexistent income statements, artist conceptions, and compounded leveraging.

This woeful tale is told by a skilled storyteller, not an English major, so forgive the grammatical errors and improper use of semi-colons. I found the insights far more enjoyable and enlightening than any book I read in English class. This book is to banking what Upton Sinclair's book The Jungle was to meat packing, except with far more humor and far less haughty vocabulary.

If you take each anecdote and multiply it by 10 million, you'll have a pretty good idea why we are in the economic mess we're in.
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