Guest Reviewer: Simon Johnson on Predator Nation by Charles H. Ferguson
Simon Johnson is coauthor of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown and White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters To You.
Predator Nation demolishes the view that the global financial crisis was merely some sort of freak accident. Charles Ferguson makes a convincing case that the world’s banking system was brought to the brink of complete collapse in 2008–09 by a virulent combination of unchecked greed and criminal behavior.
This is an epic crime story with an apparently clean getaway, courtesy of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. Both presidents proved unwilling to hold anyone to account—or even to launch meaningful investigations.
Leading bankers walked away with billions of dollars in unjustified compensation. The costs imposed on the rest of us can be measured in the trillions of dollars.
Predator Nation provides a roadmap for prosecution, systematically covering the banks involved, the names of culpable executives, the obvious crimes, the precise laws broken, and the evidence hiding in plain sight. No doubt it will be widely ignored by our legal officials.
Ferguson’s points are also intensely political. Reckless behavior by bankers can be traced back to the bipartisan consensus around deregulating finance in recent decades. This result is a socially destructive industry with immense political power—and capable of defeating all attempts at meaningful reform. The continued predominance of rogue finance is greatly facilitated by its effective corruption of American academia and many so-called “independent experts” (documented in Charles Ferguson’s Oscar-winning movie, Inside Job.)
Big banks hold American politics in a death grip. To understand this—and to start to think about how to break this grip—read Predator Nation and give a copy to everyone you know.
"A tightly argued, profusely footnoted and deeply enraged castigation of everyone involved, Predator Nation isn’t just a factually unchallengeable account of how Wall Street blew up the global economy. It’s a denunciation, a call for justice and a warning."—Salon
“With Predator Nation, Charles Ferguson sets out to finish what he started with his Oscar-winning documentary, Inside Job. This take-no-prisoners account of the financial crisis follows the money, connects the dots, names names, and asks the questions our leaders still refuse to answer: how have those responsible for the crisis not been held accountable, and how can we make sure it doesn’t happen again?” —Arianna Huffington, president and editor in chief of the Huffington Post Media Group
“There is fraud at the heart of Wall Street—deliberate intellectual, business, and political deception. Charles Ferguson is in hot pursuit. Inside Job shook up the cozy world of academic finance. Predator Nation should stir prosecutors into action. And if we fail to reform our political system, you can say goodbye to American democracy.” —Simon Johnson, coauthor of White House Burning and professor at MIT Sloan School of Management
“Ferguson presents a fierce indictment of predatory activities of parts of the financial system and of the corruption of democracy that ‘big money’ financial lobbying has caused. A book well worth reading regardless of whether you fully agree or not with all of its arguments.” —Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics and international business at Stern School of Business, New York University, and chairman of Roubini Global Economics
“The definitive financial crisis book has now been written. With an encyclopedic factual foundation to support his arguments, the ever-brilliant Charles Ferguson has given us Inside Job on steroids. The collusion between Wall Street and Washington that brought our economy to its knees is set out in a way that will have steam coming out of your ears in fury.” —Eliot Spitzer
“A deeply argued call to action from a lucid, impassioned polemicist.”—Kirkus (starred review)
“Charles Ferguson's Predator Nation is nothing less than a devastating narrative portrait of the many times Wall Street has made Main Street and others the victims of its predatory schemes. In his inimitable clear-headed style, Ferguson correctly asks, why do they keep getting away with it? Why indeed.”—William D. Cohan, author of House of Cards and Money and Power