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Busted: Life Inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown Hardcover – May 22, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. As I write in February 2009, I am four months past due on my mortgage and bracing for foreclosure proceedings to begin. Thus begins this cautionary and critical examination of the housing crisis, a story that turned personal when New York Times economics reporter Andrews got caught up in the housing bubble after falling in love with a woman and a house. Bringing in $120,000 a year in salary—most of which went to child support and alimony to his ex-wife, Andrews says he was able to get a don't ask, don't tell mortgage with the assumption that his new wife, Patty, would be able to get a job to keep them afloat, an expectation that didn't work out as planned. Because of his economics journalism background, Andrews says he should have avoided the mortgage catastrophe, and he castigates himself as well as fellow borrowers, the financial industry that took advantage of them and a government that didn't put the brakes on the crisis that many economists warned about but that Alan Greenspan, the Bush administration and others ignored. This deeply personal exposé is timely and sobering in its candor. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Andrews's autopsy on his mortgage and the conditions that helped produce it is sharp and at times mordantly funny. -- Tom Vanderbilt
[T]he value of thisvividly written history is in the way it helps toexplain how our country reached the pointwhere about one out of 10 home mortgagesis either overdue or in foreclosure. Somepeople blame lax regulation. Others point toloose monetary policy at the Federal Reserveand greed on Wall Street.Mr. Andrews's book makes it clear that thereal culprit is human nature.--James R. Hagerty
Starred Review. This deeply personal expos is timely and sobering in its candor.
Provides important information on the recent mortgage debacle and the hazards of consumer debt. A must-read... --Mary Whaley"
Andrews uses his travails as a prism for viewing the forces behind the bubble. . . . Step by step, he investigates the institutions that gave him the rope with which to hang himself. --James Pressley"
Starred Review. This deeply personal expose is timely and sobering in its candor. "
A fascinating meditation on the experience of the crisis from the point of view of those facing foreclosure. --David Warsh"
Read Busted for the insight. . . .The president and every member of Congress should read this book. --Michelle Singletary"
The fact that lenders were happy to provide the money lies at the heart of Andrews' compelling book: Borrowers and lenders alike were drunk on credit and blind to the risks. --Jim Weiker"
[T]he value of this vividly written history is in the way it helps to explain how our country reached the point where about one out of 10 home mortgages is either overdue or in foreclosure. Some people blame lax regulation. Others point to loose monetary policy at the Federal Reserve and greed on Wall Street. Mr. Andrews's book makes it clear that the real culprit is human nature. --James R. Hagerty"
Andrews s autopsy on his mortgage and the conditions that helped produce it is sharp and at times mordantly funny. --Tom Vanderbilt"
Top customer reviews
I read all 50 reviews and like most, I'm somewhat outraged at the continued denial of reality by both Ed and his wife Patty. However, that doesn't mean the book isn't an absolutely amazing read. For one thing, the chapters in between the "personal horror story" chapters are a fascinating look at what was going on behind the scenes - with Greenspan, sub-prime CEO's, "too big to fail" banks, and various government players. If readers find themselves annoyed by the personal story, just skip the chapters. You will find yourself enlightened by the chapters between.
I hope and Ed and Patty's marriage has survived. I hope they have someplace to live. I've been through some tough financial times in my life too, although not on the order of what they experienced. What probably troubles me the most about their story isn't the story itself or even their refusal to face reality. What troubles me is that there are so many others out there just like them...or worse. I don't understand people who don't learn from their mistakes and then vow to never make them again.
It's clear from the book that Patty has a spending problem, and of course we now know that she had filed bankruptcy prior to marrying Ed. I hold no ill will or judgement against someone declaring bankruptcy...once. While there are many examples that indicate her refusal to change and face reality, perhaps the most telling (in my opinion) occurs near the end of the book on page 211. We've just read through a litany of their current financial status - 90 days past due on the mortgage, internet shut off, $9,000 of credit card debt, no money in the bank until payday, which happens to be Christmas Eve...and, what does Patty do? She tells Ed she is "going shopping" to get gifts for "Emily and the boys" while reminding him to not get her anything. Seriously?? "The boys" are in college. Don't you think they would know and understand if they didn't receive any gifts that year? Emily's younger - perhaps too young to be able to comprehend what is going on. But, based on Patty's prior behavior, it wouldn't have surprised me at all if she spent $1,000 or more on gifts on that forlorn Christmas Eve.
Anyhow...this is the type of stuff that happens in the "personal" section that can be annoying or even infuriating. Don't let it keep you from reading the book, though. It's a great read, and a real "insider's look" at what was happening behind the scenes to create America's mortgage calamity.
The book has two plots going on at the same time - first was his trouble in paradise, and second was what went wrong with the mortgage industry / why everyone went nuts and chose to ignore the ballooning bubble until it was too late. I enjoyed the insights he provided readers for the second part, but found the first part lacking substance. His chief complaints are these : Ms. Barreiro did not try hard enough to secure a well-paying job, and she spent money. The thing is when the two reconnected, Ms. Barreiro had been a housewife for more than a decade - Mr. Andrews knew that. Expecting her to land a well-paying job was delusional and unrealistic. Perhaps Ms. Barreiro had been trying to find a job during their personal financial crisis but just couldn't lock down one? There are many people who have been unemployed for several years - compared to them, Ms. Barreiro was even worse off as her work experiences were very limited. Why would Mr. Andrews think she could just get a well-paying job like that?! Also, his constantly complained about her spending - it was just never clear to me on what she spent on? Was she being a shopaholic? Or was she just spending on daily essentials, such as food? If it was former, then yes, I could see why he was upset. But if was latter, then what was the point of browbeating her? Everyone - including Mr. Andrews - need to eat, right? On a side note, Ms. Barreiro filed bankruptcy twice, a fact that Mr. Andrews didn't mention in the book. I agreed with Mr. Andrews that I don't think including this fact would make any difference to the overall story. Plus, I wouldn't simply assume Ms. Barreiro being financially irresponsible just because she filed bankruptcy twice as there could be many other personal reasons involved.
To Mr. Andrews' credit, despite his repeated complaints against Ms. Barreiro, he did present her point of views as well. And many times, it made him look like an insensitive prick, a bully.
One can sense from the book that Mr. Andrews took pride in his achievement and he thought very highly of himself - presumably before all hell broke loose. I can't help wonder had he known what he knows now, would he make the same choices, including walking into the subprime traps with his eyes wide open?