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Dumb Money: How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation Paperback – April 14, 2009
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About the Author
Daniel Gross is the economics editor and a columnist at Yahoo! Finance. From 2007 through August 2010, Gross was a senior editor at Newsweek, where he wrote the "Contrary Indicator" column. During this time he also wrote a twice-weekly Moneybox column for Slate. Prior to joining Newsweek, he wrote the "Economic View" column in the New York Times/ Gross has appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, C-SPAN, and on more than 35 radio programs, including NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross (no relation). He is the author of Dumb Money, Pop!: Why Bubbles Are Great for the Economy, Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Time; and Bull Run: Wall Street, the Democrats, and the New Politics of Personal Finance. He lives in Connecticut.
Top customer reviews
It's all here: the steady loss of our manufacturing base to China, the rise of "cheap money" (loans at temptingly low interest rates), "securitization" (the packaging of high and low risk mortgage debt into "mortgage-backed securities"), Enron and Worldcom, the epidemic of sub-prime, risky home loans, the wanton use of debt as "leverage" to finance more and more absurd take-overs, soaring government debt levels fueled by the low cost of borrowing, and the addictive need for constantly rising values in all asset classes to prevent total collapse of over-leveraged hedge funds, private equity groups, and investment banks. Large investment banks inexplicably thought they could carry 30 dollars in debt for every dollar of capital. Sub-prime lenders offered no-down-payment home loans to borrowers with undocumentable income. Government regulators obligingly eased requirements for reserves in order to keep the party going.
Faced with stagnating wages, average workers borrowed their way into affluence through refinancing mortgages and running up credit card balances until they could not longer safely get off the treadmill. Hungry for profits, the rest of the world joined in the frenzy and got burned as well. Gross gives the sense that the lethal overdose of borrowing was a juggernaut that no one individual or institution could control. In his somewhat underwhelming concluding chapter, Gross seems to think that the world financial crisis of 2008 is neither the first nor the last of an inevitable series of bubbles that inhere in free markets. He anticlimactically recommends we be "smarter" and more restrained in our investment choices.
I learned many interesting specifics about the financial crisis of 2008, and overall, that it really was what most of us suspected it was: a lethal admixture of greed, narcissism, diabolical ingenuity, and lemming-like, imitative behavior on a grand scale. This is a great, painless introduction to a disturbing, complicated, important tale of capitalism gone wild.