In This Review

Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon
Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon
By Gretchen Morgenson,Joshua Rosner
Times Books, 2011, 352 pp
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This hard-hitting examination of the role of Fannie Mae in the housing bubble and the U.S. financial crisis features a clear plot, riveting detail, and a sense of burning anger. According to Morgenson and Rosner, during the 1990s and the early years of this century, Fannie Mae’s greedy chair and the rapacious mortgage industry cynically manipulated public opinion and Congress, representing steps to ease credit requirements and create complex (and profitable) financial securities as high-minded efforts to bring homeownership within reach of the poor and minorities. The authors allege that an alliance between Wall Street and community groups such as ACORN -- mediated by Fannie Mae and blessed by Congress -- was responsible for both the real estate bubble and the financial crisis. The GOP can only hope voters buy this controversial thesis, as it makes the financial crash an almost all-Democratic affair. In truth, the full story is more complex. But for readers looking for an introduction to the meltdown, Reckless Endangerment is a good place to begin.