Chain of Blame: How Wall Street Caused the Mortgage and Credit Crisis
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Chain of Blame: How Wall Street Caused the Mortgage and Credit Crisis

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  81 ratings  ·  19 reviews
An updated and revised look at the truth behind America's housing and mortgage bubbles

In the summer of 2007, the subprime empire that Wall Street had built all came crashing down. On average, fifty lenders a month were going bust-and the people responsible for the crisis included not just unregulated loan brokers and con artists, but also investment bankers and home loan i...more
Hardcover, 338 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by John Wiley & Sons (first published January 1st 2008)
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Jonathan
One of those books that make me wish there were 1/2 stars, Chain of Blame tells an important story, yet does it in a very dry and by-the-numbers fashion. Muolo and his co-author, Padilla, are financial reporters close the the mortgage industry and obviously know their stuff, yet the book lacks compelling human drama. The closest it comes is in the description of how many of the long timers in the mortgage industry, like Angelo Mozilo, head of Countrywide, got started.

But the book tends to devolv...more
Eric_W
Truly a fascinating account of the financial meltdown. It also contains one of the clearest explanations of credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations I have seen anywhere else. A big problem was that sub-prime mortgages had become a cash cow for Wall Street. Mortgage entities like Countrywide sought out subprime mortgages because they brought higher interest rates, could be collateralized with real estate, and then could be securitized and resold and then added to CDOs which were...more
Steven Peterson
Do your eyes glaze over when commentators try to describe the financial products that were at the heart of the recent real estate boom? The mortgage boom? This book described the instruments clearly--and gives the reader a great sense of what was fundamentally wrong with the whole process. The title is "Chain of Blame," but there is plenty of blame to go around.

The book is well written and lucid. Nonspecialists can understand it well. I heard talking heads on TV and radio described tranches, RE...more
Michele
My brother gave me this book for Christmas this year after it languished on my Amazon wish list for months. The book seemed highly recommended as one that could explain the mortgage and housing crisis to even someone as financially clueless as myself.

First of all, the authors are clearly well-informed. They thankfully do not take for granted that the reader will even know basic financial, Wall Street terms (ie, exactly what a Savings and Loan was, what a warehouse line of credit is, the definiti...more
Brian
This book was written before and during the financial crisis, and explores the culture of each distinct industry. The authors did a good job exploring the culture of mortgage originators, the commercial banks, investment banks, and wealthy investors who bought securities they knew nothing about, rated highly by ratings agencies who had no idea what was in them.

The ‘chain of blame’ concept is great for showing how each industry on its own was making sensible, if not responsible, decisions. Separa...more
Tom

This is a good book. The most startling lines in it come from Betsy Bayer, a Countrywide Mortgage Co. compliance executive, whose explanation for her employer's collapse could be said to be the book's thesis. Countrywide's collapse, she contends, was due to having

"relaxed its credit guidelines" to stay competitive with companies like Ameriquest, Argent, and New Century, all of which were now out of business or soon would be. She also had something else to say about subprime lending at Countrywid
...more
Nick
not nearly my favorite of the latest "business non-fiction adventure" series as I like to call them. but definitely additional insight into all the players on Wall Street and across the US (never realized what a role Southern Cali loan brokers played in the whole scheme of things). Towards the end, i was swearing out loud reading the TARP facts and thinking how crazy that the US nationalized huge banks.

The S&L crisis in 1990 cost taxpayers 150 billion.

The financial meltdown of 2008 is runni...more
Vastine Stabler
The title is a little misleading in the fact that most of the book is spent examining the non-bank financial institutions (i.e. Countrywide and Ameriquest) that generated the loans that Wall Street investment banks would make into bonds not Wall Street itself. But this is a rich area to study and is not as covered in literature as much as their more glamorous Wall Street partners. This book filled a hole in my understanding or the crisis and it did connect a lot of dots. The book does leave out...more
Andrew
A detailed account of the sub-prime lending crisis, tieing it to the S&L deregulation starting in the 1980s and the Wall Street speculation in junk bond investments. Written in late 2007 and published in early 2008, it is an account of the lax lending conditions and rampant speculation that set up the failure of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and both investment banks and thrifts later in 2008.

The root causes were the same as for the junk bond crisis in the 1980s: separation of real assets from the...more
Stuart
"In my opinion, the best description of how the subprime mortgage crisis emerged from Southern California, with a detailed expose of the mortgage brokers, gullible home buyers, greedy investment banks, yield hungry investors, lax regulators and excess liquidity, all worked together to create a massive financial crisis that we still have not recovered from."
Ines
The authors did a fantastic job with this book: it is very informative and excellently researched--absolutely packed with insights and information!

Would I read this book again? No. I'd listen to the audiobook instead; maybe it would be easier to follow.
Darryl
My friend Paul Muolo wrote this book, which offers some explanations for the current housing crisis in America, in layman's language. Highly recommended.
Victoria
Comprehensive look at what went terribly wrong in the mortgage industry. Lots of sniggely little errors, but overall, very well researched.
Mary Crawford
A must read to understand how the current financial problems happened. I had no idea the problems started so long ago.
Jason Letman
It was ok. I thought the Big Short was much more interesting.
Jennifer Kennelly
Great book! And, very time appropriate considering what's going on
Dennis Blanchette
Very clear and understandable explanation of the subject
Sermsee
Oh all the names we know....Interesting. How it all went down. Good read.
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