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Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon [Kindle Edition]

Gretchen Morgenson , Joshua Rosner
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (278 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
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Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book for 2011
One of The Economist’s 2011 Books of the Year

The New York Times's Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist reveals how the financial meltdown emerged from the toxic interplay of Washington, Wall Street, and corrupt mortgage lenders

In Reckless Endangerment, Gretchen Morgenson, the star business columnist of The New York Times, exposes how the watchdogs who were supposed to protect the country from financial harm were actually complicit in the actions that finally blew up the American economy.

Drawing on previously untapped sources and building on original research from coauthor Joshua Rosner—who himself raised early warnings with the public and investors, and kept detailed records—Morgenson connects the dots that led to this fiasco.

Morgenson and Rosner draw back the curtain on Fannie Mae, the mortgage-finance giant that grew, with the support of the Clinton administration, through the 1990s, becoming a major opponent of government oversight even as it was benefiting from public subsidies. They expose the role played not only by Fannie Mae executives but also by enablers at Countrywide Financial, Goldman Sachs, the Federal Reserve, HUD, Congress, the FDIC, and the biggest players on Wall Street, to show how greed, aggression, and fear led countless officials to ignore warning signs of an imminent disaster.

Character-rich and definitive in its analysis, this is the one account of the financial crisis you must read.

Editorial Reviews




"Gretchen Morgenson is a national treasure. Year after year, she has dragged Wall Street miscreants out of the shadows, exposing their dirty secrets to the public that they bamboozled with schemes and deceits. Now, working with Joshua Rosner, she has trained her expert eye on the mortgage mess that pushed the American economy to the brink. In stunning detail, Morgenson exposes the truth behind the worst financial calamity of modern times, weaving a tale that is as mesmerizing as it is horrifying. Reckless Endangerment names the names and reveals the secrets of the plutocrats and politicians whose greed and recklessness threatened the foundations of capitalism.  It is essential reading for anyone struggling to understand how America entered the new era of financial chaos."—Kurt Eichenwald, New York Times bestselling author of Conspiracy of Fools and The Informant


"Even before Reckless Endangerment, Gretchen Morgenson was my nominee for Reporter of the Decade for her forensic and prophetic coverage of Wall Street. Now, she and the equally talented sleuth Joshua Rosner, like Holmes and Dr. Watson, have pieced together the clues to a seminal mystery of the financial debacle: how American taxpayers were suckered by the shenanigans, greed, egos, back scratching, and guile of financial and political elites who swarmed like vultures around Fannie Mae, picking it clean of oversight and accountability while its executives gorged themselves on the spoils. Naming names and taking no prisoners, they drill deep into one of the most disturbing scandals of our time, perpetrated in the name of helping "the little guy."  Read it and weep. Read it and vow: Never Again!—Bill Moyer...

About the Author

Gretchen Morgenson is a business reporter and columnist at The New York Times, where she also serves as assistant business and financial editor. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for her "trenchant and incisive" coverage of Wall Street. Prior to joining the Times in 1998, she worked as a broker at Dean Witter in the 1980s, and as a reporter at Forbes, Worth, and Money magazines. She lives with her husband and son in New York City.

Joshua Rosner is a managing director at the independent research consultancy Graham Fisher and Co. and was among the first analysts to identify accounting problems at the government-sponsored-enterprises and to warn of the coming credit crisis. He advises regulators and institutional investors on housing and mortgage-finance-related issues. He lives in New York City.

Product Details

  • File Size: 553 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0805091203
  • Publisher: Times Books; Reprint edition (May 24, 2011)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004H1TM1G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,677 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
543 of 573 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We need more watchdogs like Gretchen and Josh! May 24, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have long admired Gretchen Morgenson and cheered when she was awarded a Pulitzer. Perhaps this book in conjunction with her hard-hitting NY Times reporting will garner her another one. She deserves it. The authors echo my sentiments precisely in their introduction "...felt compelled to write this book because we are angry that the American economy was almost wrecked by a crowd of self-interested, politically influential and arrogant people who have not been held accountable for their actions." And the people who did it "...continue, even now, to hold sway in the corridors of Wall Street and Washington."

I have nothing against the vastly wealthy and sometimes - OK, frequently - dream wistfully of joining their ranks, but I do care about how this wealth is accumulated. Entrepreneurs who build companies, executives who take these companies to the next level and the one after that, highly talented and gifted persons - in arts and sports - who command premium remuneration all enrich society. Many financial titans, on the other hand, do not create wealth. They are unusually adept in extracting it for personal gain while simultaneously impoverishing society and holding it hostage. They operate on the principle that "My gain is mine and only mine. My loss is actually yours." And they know how to spread enough largesse that enablers like accountants, rating agencies and regulators fall into line and they buy off politicians with consummate skill. They try - increasingly ineffectively - to justify their existence by claiming that they perform crucial service by "allocating capital" and "increasing efficiency." They further claim that they should not be regulated because they can do a better job of regulating themselves. The fish is starting to stink pretty bad.
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221 of 233 people found the following review helpful
Reckless Endangerment chronicles the screwing of America by just about everyone in power: dirty politicians, inept watchdogs and an insatiably avaricious financial community that knew better but didn't care. NY Times reporters Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner have taken the time to investigate not just players in the financial mess circa 2008 but the 15 years prior when Bill Clinton decided to get behind the dubious notion that everyone should have a stake in the American dream and own their own home.

In theory it all sounded perfect--who could object to people bettering themselves? The only problem was that to make the dream "accessible to all" generations of lending practices and protections would have to be dismantled. Safeguards would be gutted and due diligence would become a nuisance that is brushed aside. There are plenty of culprits here: the usual Wall Street money-mongers and in the 90s and early 00s a Republican Congress in their pocket. But Morgenson and Posner shine a powerfully bright light on the complicity of marquee Democrats such as Bill Clinton, Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank. Toss in Democrat insider Jim Johnson into the cauldron and it is a powerful witches brew.

Jim Johnson, quintessential DC insider used all of these connections in the 90s on behalf of empowering Fannie Mae and eviscerating sound financial practices. Greasing the wheels of powerful polls on banking and finance committees became standard procedure. Finding a sinecure for Barney Frank's boyfriend was a pleasure not a problem (if Frank isn't a criminal it is by a hair's breadth). Libeling the responsible, honest regulators and economists who tried to stop this train-wreck waiting to happen was all in a day's work, and a particular Johnson specialty.
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158 of 174 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally someone gets it! May 25, 2011
By Raven26
Morgenson and Rosner have done their homework and written an in depth and hard-hitting book that reveals with perfect clarity how this mess began. It's refreshing to read a book that doesn't rehash the Wall Street stories we've all heard over and over. I'm much more interested at this point in the characters in Washington who were championing home ownership and enriching themselves as they set the stage for disaster, and who really have remained blameless up to now. The sense of outrage the authors feel comes through on every page and the book is actually a page-turner in addition to being a real narrative, unlike some of the other books on the crisis, with a beginning and an end. Great storytelling and great reporting as well. Read it!!!
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69 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "ATTENTION MUST BE PAID" June 4, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In many ways this is a well-written, informative and thought-provoking book. Despite the few errors of date and fact that some careful reviewers have noted here, IMO it should be read by every voter, homeowner, renter, investor -- every citizen -- who is determined no longer to be shafted by the powerful -- nor by the lawmakers' staffers who "earn" their money by burying loopholes in our laws such that even the most honest attorney general cannot prosecute perps who enrich themselves while they impoverish gullible voters, tax payers and their families.

There are some excellent reviews posted here, especially those by S. Rao, Raven 26, L. Bachmann, and many, many others, so I will make no effort to repeat their excellent work. I, however, am on my second reading of my hardcover copy of "Reckless." Taking notes this time inasmuch as I state in my title, above, from "Death of a Salesman," ATTENTION MUST BE PAID.

We must no longer be victimized by the powerful and their feckless, reckless, blind-eyed enablers: The true, accurate contents of this book -- despite the few errors that escaped the publisher's fact checkers -- may give you the impetus you need to get you moving.

The perps who brought about this mess while enriching themselves and impoverishing the public should no longer escape public scrutiny. ATTENTION MUST BE PAID!!

P.S. I have no hidden agenda. I do not work for the authors or publisher, or whatever.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read, recommended
Published 24 days ago by Raul Arteaga
2.0 out of 5 stars not CRA loans to the poor. The Bush administration's Working group on...
A very narrow view of the entities that were responsible for the financial crisis. So narrow that it was dishonest. Read more
Published 25 days ago by Thomas H.
5.0 out of 5 stars it is pretty clear to me that government and government regulation was...
This classic examines the reasons for the real estate and banking crisis of 2008. I've recently reread most of it, and although Morgenson spreads the blame around, it is pretty... Read more
Published 26 days ago by normbenign
5.0 out of 5 stars you seem brilliant. I have a law degree
Gretchen, you seem brilliant. I have a law degree. I took advanced tax and securities coursework in law school. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Kathryn Leigh Derossitt
5.0 out of 5 stars objective work of great importance. Thisi is a must read for anyone...
Describes the history of the home ownership bubble and indicts the various institutions behind it. A nonpartisan, objective work of great importance. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Donald E Hinderliter
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing story -- very well written
Published 2 months ago by reader
3.0 out of 5 stars Good data but the angry tone makes it a little hard to read.
The information in this book is well researched. The authors do a great job of detailing legislative changes that encouraged businessmen to forget about all they understood about... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mary Beth Frost (
5.0 out of 5 stars Corruption Exposed. Excellent Read.
Another excellent book. Despite the author's desire to protect their liberal friends their honesty wins out, although I am certain if the perpetrators of the reckless endangerment... Read more
Published 2 months ago by robertolini
4.0 out of 5 stars A "must read" if you care about the US economy
A fine look at a very bad time in the US financial market. The depressing thing is that many of the "bad" guys are still in powerful positions in government and in the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by C. Moon
4.0 out of 5 stars A great, thorough look at a terribly frustrating and scary ...
A great, thorough look at a terribly frustrating and scary part of the economic crisis. Wish it could have been a bit more concise.
Published 3 months ago by sdgolf
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