Thursday, November 26, 2009

A colossal Failure of Common Sense, by Lawrence G. McDonald

This audio book was obtained from Overdrive Audio through the Alachua County Public Library. It is subtitled, "The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers". It was 16 hours and 38 minutes long, and was narrated by Erik Davies.

If you want to be better informed about last year's economic collapse, this is a good place to start. Lawrence MacDonald tells his story of how he became a Wall Street trader, about his successes at Lehman Brothers, and about the people who worked there.

If you just want to know who to blame, there is plenty of it to go around. During the Clinton Administration the seeds of this collapse were sown by ideologues on the left who pushed the mortgage industry to give loans to poor people, and free marketeers on the right, who repealed the Glass-Steagal Act that allowed these bad mortgages to tie up money throughout the economy.

As a story, this is suspenseful and well-told. There are heroes, villains, and bystanders with feet of clay. And I have to admit that I think the author is one of the latter. I know that traders are not supposed to create panics because it is a form of market manipulation. But their inside knowledge of the disaster to come should have been at least leaked to the press, especially the sale of sub-prime loans to people who were encouraged to lie about their incomes.

This was a 4 star page turner.

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