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Way Too Big to Fail: How Government and Private Industry Can Build a Fail-Safe Mortgage System Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 358 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1463660464
  • ISBN-13: 978-1463660468
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,786,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Way Too Big to Fail is an essential book on the mortgage crisis. The book is invaluable for understanding not just what made the bubble, but everything that transpired after it burst. It should be required reading for anyone thinking about how to rebuild U.S. housing finance."

Adam J. Levitin, Professor of Law, Georgetown University

From the Author

WILLIAM A. FREY began his career on Wall Street in 1981 in the then nascent field of securitization. After nearly fifteen years in major firms including Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney, and Bear Stearns, Bill founded Greenwich Financial Services (GFS) in 1995, where he serves as principal and CEO today. Under Frey's leadership, GFS has structured and sold billions of dollars of mortgage backed securities. In 2003, recognizing that the U.S. MBS market was fueled by loans that were unlikely to be repaid, Frey decided to look for opportunities in other countries. GFS completed the first Russian securitization transaction with auto loans in 2005 and followed in 2006 with the first MBS for Russian mortgage certificates. Each of these deals won a "Deal of the Year" award from industry groups. More importantly, neither has suffered any credit losses during the recent worldwide financial turmoil. Recently Frey has emerged as the most vocal advocate for bondholder rights in the wake of the Mortgage Crisis. The central theme of Frey's advocacy is that the solutions proposed by federal and state governments will do more harm than good. The proposed changes usually ignore the contracts that govern mortgage securities, massively increasing losses to bondholders who are typically pension and retirement funds. Furthermore, the U.S. forced abrogation of trillions of dollars of investor contracts will stop the flow of private capital to the United States, thereby choking off the eventual recovery of the housing market and, indeed, the entire U.S. economy. Frey's advocacy for contract integrity and his visionary solutions that work for all market participants are recognized as key components in the eventual recovery of the mortgage capital markets.

More About the Author

About the Author and Editor

WILLIAM A. FREY is the Principal and CEO of Greenwich Financial Services (GFS). Bill began his career in the securitization industry on Wall Street in 1981 during the industry's infancy. After nearly fifteen years in various major firms, including Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney, and Bear Stearns, Bill founded GFS in 1995. At GFS, Bill structured and sold billions of dollars in MBS securities structured from various types of collateral. In 2003, recognizing that the US market was likely to undergo a substantial decline, Bill began evaluating MBS securitization opportunities in other countries. In 2005, GFS completed the first Russian securitization and then the first securitization of mortgage certificates in 2006. Both transactions won acclaim and industry awards.

Recently, Bill has emerged as the most vocal advocate for bondholder rights in the U.S. MBS market. The central theme of Bill's bondholder advocacy is that the legislative response to the current financial crisis and lack of support for the underlying contracts supporting MBS transactions will massively increase bondholder losses and devastate American credibility in the world financial markets. Bill has long argued that America's ability to re-establish a private mortgage finance system is critical to the recovery of the housing market and the resumption of overall economic growth. His work in helping mortgage investors enforce their contracts with banks has shown him to be one of the few members of the financial community with the courage to stand up to the nation's largest financial institutions and tackle this nation's mortgage problems.

Bill received his B.A from Cornell University and his M.B.A. from Carnegie Mellon University.

ISAAC GRADMAN is an attorney who was involved in some of the earliest litigation arising from the subprime mortgage crisis. He authors the law blog, The Subprime Shakeout and is the managing member of IMG Enterprises, an MBS consulting firm. Isaac received his B.A. in Political and Social Thought with Highest Distinction from UVA, where he was a Jefferson Scholar, an Echols Scholar and a member of the Raven Honor Society, and received his J.D. cum laude from N.Y.U. School of Law, where he was a Dean's Scholar. Isaac also clerked for two years for the Hon. Joan Lenard in the United States District Court in the Southern District of Florida.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Steve Dietrich VINE VOICE on February 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
OK the title might be a little over the top. However, you may very well agree with me when you finish the book and look at the impact this issue and its deliberate mismanagement has had on your nation, your state and your family and how the public continues to be raped by those who claim to be doing good.

One of the great tidbits of the book is back on page 264, a letter from Barney Frank acting as Chm of the House Committee on Financial Services and signed by 6 members. Most likely the letter was drafted by outraged banks whose blatant attempt at theft by government gift from the noteholders had been dragged into the light. The letter from Barney begins with "We are outraged...."and continues on to demand that Frey appear before the Committee to explain his crimes of free speech. Frey relates his amazement that during the pre appearance interviews, Barney's staff demonstrated time and again that they had no concept of how the securitization process worked or the content of the basic documents. In the end they decided that hauling Frey into the tv lights would simply prove what the public had come to suspect, they were idiots on the payroll of the perps.

Most of us are likely to finish the decade from 2005 to 2015 poorer than we started. OK our financial statements may not reflect the loss, but that's only because we do not carry our share of the national, state and local debt plus underfunded government pensions on our financial statements. The primary cause of this debacle was the widespread malfeasance and corruption in the real estate and securities industries during the middle of the last decade.

A few hours before starting the book I read an article on the California AG and the 49 state settlement in one of the national magazines.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paula P Ginsborg on January 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
(Fairness requires me to disclose that I was a colleague of editor Isaac M. Gradman when he worked at the law firm of Howard Rice.)

William A. Frey has distilled penetrating insights from his career in what may be the most comprehensive, accessible primer on residential mortgage securitization. (H even includes a glossary for further guidance.) Using lucid explanations and examples, he has written his book for policymakers and lay readers new to the subject, with the hope that legislators, regulators, and MBS participants will adopt his proposals.

Frey offers much more than a much-needed introduction to the complexities of mortgage securitization. He provides a short overview of the historical context for the mortgage crisis. He not only explains its causes and government failures to remedy it, but also proposes specific MBS reforms that rationally realign incentives of all participants in the MBS market. He finds that the crisis will continue unless the federal government stops interfering with MBS contracts and helps MBS investors resolve conflicts of interest among servicers and other MBS participants.

Frey's insights will help fill a gap in the public's understanding of the mortgage crisis, whether or not his reform proposals merit wider political support. In fact, in at least two of his proposed reforms, Frey appears to aim at the wrong target. He singles out the perceived risk-advantages of homeowners as a primary culprit in the crisis, without fully considering the role of systematic, regulatory failures, especially by the Federal Reserve.

Frey identifies large interest rate movements as a significant cause of both the savings-and-loan and MBS implosions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan M. Prober on February 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Way Too Big to Fail is an important book focusing on the vital issue of the (surprisingly large to many folks) securitization market.

In particular, the book excels in two major ways:

First, it discusses important issues regarding the U.S. real estate market and overall economy in an easy and enjoyable way.

Second, it proposes solutions rather than just re-telling the story of how we got into this mess (although it also does an excellent job of providing a holistic historical backdrop in addition to proposing solutions on how to best fix the mess).

I highly recommend all citizens concerned with the future of our economy to add this insightful book to their collection.
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