If you’ve been wondering how the housing bubble burst and why the economy is so messed up, you could choose from any number of books to deepen your understanding and quite frankly, depress yourself. LIAR’S POKER and THE BIG SHORT, both by Michael Lewis, would be a good start (One of my all-time favorite writers, he also wrote MONEYBALL and THE BLIND SIDE, among others). But today I want to talk about the recently-released RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner. (As an aside, I’m not sure what it says about our family that my parents sent me this book. But let’s continue, shall we?)
Morgenson is a New York Times reporter who, according to the book jacket, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for her “trenchant and incisive” coverage of Wall Street. Rosner is a research consultant. Together they have created something engrossing and mortifying. At various points, I caught myself saying, “No,” “C’mon!!!” and “Are you KIDDING me???”
My biggest takeaway from this book is that we are ALL complicit. As much as we would like to blame the sudden devaluations of our homes on someone else (and there ARE plenty of others to blame), the truth is that WE have also been part of the problem. Ironically, even people who had good intentions regarding the housing aspirations of others caused this situation we find ourselves in.
The subtitle offers some clues: “How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon.” For more than that, you’ll have to read the book.