Reckless Endangerment gives the best available account of how the growing chaos in the mortgage and personal finance markets and the rampant bundling of dubious loans into exotically toxic securities plunged the world, and millions of American families, into the gravest financial crisis since World War Two. It is gripping reading as well, and its explanations are clear enough that readers without any background in finance will have no trouble following the plot. The villains? An unholy alliance between Wall Street, the Democratic establishment, community organizing groups like ACORN and La Raza, and politicians like Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi and Henry Cisneros. (Frank got a cushy job for a lover, Pelosi got a job and layoff protection for a son, Cisneros apparently got a license to mint money bilking Mexican-Americans of their life savings in cheesy housing developments.)
Here’s a helpful timeline I drew up that you shouldn’t need an extensive background in political science to understand:
Are we supposed to believe that Pelosi did all this mischief from the minority bench of the US House of Representatives? That much of it happened before she even led the Minority caucus? That, if true, would be a genuinely extraordinary tale of how it is the President of the United States, the entire Senate, and the Speaker of the House were foiled in their efforts to overhaul the American financial system by Pelosi’s wiles. Alternatively, maybe during her four-year spell as Speaker, Pelosi traveled back in time and forced the congress to forego appropriate regulation. Either way, it’s an impressive show.