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Kleptocracy chronicles

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Book review: Reckless Endangerment by Gretchen Morgenson

The American dream of homeownership morphed into a national nightmare thanks to greedy bankers, greedy legislators, greedy business leaders, greedy rating agencies and 98-pound-weakling regulators. Reckless Endangerment names names. ...

... The duo also wanted to give credit to ordinary Americans who tried to ward off the crisis early on, but whose repeated warnings were unheeded or calculatingly quashed. Two examples:

•Quashed: When Ed DeMarco, a career researcher at the U.S. Treasury, drafted a report suggesting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be privatized in 1996, Larry Summers, then deputy secretary at Treasury, demanded he rewrite the report. ...

... •In addition to the much-publicized sweetheart mortgage deals doled out to Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, other legislators, including Nancy Pelosi and Robert Bennett, got jobs for their children.

•When Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines retired under pressure after the scandal broke, he did so with thank yous, bonuses, a legal defense fund and lifetime health benefits.

•The major rating agencies, which reaped big fees from rating companies' creditworthiness, often kept their lips zipped until public announcements made it absolutely necessary for them to downgrade a stock.

Morgenson and Rosner provide a four-page cast of characters that will help any reader who's not thoroughly versed in foreclosuregate.

The book is well-indexed, so Larry Summers, Donna Shalala, Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, Barbara Boxer, Joseph Stiglitz and Tim Geithner won't have to read all 317 pages to learn how they are portrayed.

Yum! going right on my reading list!!!

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