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Busted: Life Inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown

3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  149 ratings  ·  48 reviews
The fiasco that sank millions of Americans, including one journalist, who thought he knew better.

Chronicling the fiasco that sank millions of Americans, including one journalist who thought he knew better, Busted is a darkly humorous exploration of the cynicism and self-destructive judgment that led to America's biggest economic calamity in generations.
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 11th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published May 7th 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 291)
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Kirsti
Edmund Andrews is an impulsive kind of guy. He buys a house sight unseen. He proposes marriage to a woman he's never even kissed (and he may have proposed before his divorce was final, though that's unclear). He ends up with $50,000 in credit-card debt, a vastly reduced 401(k), a mortgage that he can't come close to paying, and an utterly destroyed credit rating. But he still has a really good job . . . AS A FINANCIAL REPORTER for the New York Times. I'm not kidding. He gets scolded, in person, ...more
Id
Edmund Andrews is the star economics reporter for the Times, so the writing itself is competent and interesting — if it is to be evaluated on purely technical, storytelling merits. But as another reader noted, the author has been harshly criticized for sins of omission — namely, neglecting to mention his wife’s two bankruptcies. Remember, this book was billed as a tell-all memoir about his personal finances, and The New York Times threw the full weight of its marketing juggernaut behind it by ma ...more
Ciara
Aug 10, 2009 Ciara rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: folks curious about the housing crisis, bad budgeters, proespective home buyers
Shelves: read-in-2009
this book offers a pretty straightforward, easy-to-understand explanation of the housing bubble & its subsequent collapse, which led to the current recession, through interviews with mortgage brokers, real estate agencies, banking officials, & through andrews's own personal experience siging a go-go mortgage for an unaffordable house, destroying his credit, & eventually sliding into foreclosure. i originally read the extremely foreshortened version of this book, published by the "new ...more
Juliegsorensen
Because of my involvement in the real estate industry and Margaret's recommendation, I picked this up. It was a very quick and easy read, and certainly a good insight into the mortgage/subprime lending debacle. Two themes surfaced for me--Greed and Unwillingness to take responsibility. I had trouble sympathizing with the author. He got in over his head because he was unwilling to accept his financial circumstances and chose to live beyond his means. He was facilitated by greedy mortgage lending ...more
Betterthanfiction
New York Times financial reporter Edmund Andrews covers the sad and confusing story of an average American who was taken in by the mortgage industry and s in danger of losing his home - himself. Despite his close and continual study of the American Economy, Andrews found himself drawn into the shady world of ARM loans, flubbed financial forms and an overpriced "dream" house. Newly married with children and step-children, Andrews dreamed of providing his new family a lovely home. However, the rea ...more
Lain
"Whine whine, snivel, snivel. I wanted a house I couldn't afford for my mid-life crisis new bride. I bought it anyway. Things went bad. But someone should have stopped me!"

I was looking for a tad more insight. I didn't get it. I took my life into my own hands (a recommendation for the author) and quit reading.
Dan Walker
This book provides an interesting take on the real estate bubble, because the author himself had a subprime mortgage while simultaneously covering the financial news for the NYT. So he covers both angles: the personal side of having such a mortgage, as well as the "professional" side of what caused the real estate run-up and collapse.



On the personal side, the author is painfully honest as his marriage to the woman of his dreams strains under the weight of the debt on his over-priced suburban hom
...more
Nicole
I would've given this one star if it had just been Andrews's personal story, but I did enjoy the history and perspective on the mortgage meltdown. His own story, though, just grated. Yes, we should have had better safeguards and policies in place so that the banking industry had not gone wild, but really, he is completely candid about the fact that he made over $100K and bought a house that was twice what he could afford. Apparently his premise is that "even an economics writer for the NY Times ...more
Margaret
This book, by a NYT journalist who both covered the housing bubble and the subprime mortgage crisis at the same time, to his chagrin, he participated in it, tells several stories and works on all levels. Let's get the personal part out of the way: Mr. Andrews made some bone-headed decisions and way over-leveraged himself. He takes himself to task and faces this head on in the book with, to my ear, minimal to no whining. His and his second wife's borrowing, pretty much just to put a (nice) roof o ...more
Carin
I had read the excerpt in The New York Times Sunday Magazine last month, and found the topic fascinating: an economics reporter for the NYT ends up in a sub-prime mortgage and is probably going to lose his house (and marriage). I found the memoir parts more interesting than the strictly economics parts (and I do know from economics). I learned more in the chapters that told anecdotes about people who'd been defrauded, who were fighting back, etc., then in the sections about Greenspan, Bernecke e ...more
Ann
This book can be summarized in two sentences. A financial journalist of some distinction tracks and explains the exotic lending practices that led to the mortgage meltdown. In parallel, he describes his infatuation with the woman who would become his second wife, their decision to buy a house together, and the subsequent downward spiral of their personal finances.

I gave this book a 3-star reading because I enjoyed reading it, and because I found myself rereading it, or selected parts of it, sev
...more
Bibliophile
Edmund Andrews, the economics reporter for the New York Times offers a salutary lesson in how and why ordinary people all over America got so caught up in the real-estate bubble that they never stopped to think about how they were literally mortgaging their future. Andrews details how easy it was for him to get an enormous loan - far larger than he could ever hope to pay back - for a house that he didn't really need but wanted because he was caught up in a fever of love for his new wife, Patti. ...more
Nicole Marble
Revisit the Bush/Greenspan Recession of 2008 with a New York Times financial reporter. This book was written in 2009, which gives it a fresh and timely feel. Andrews blames the meltdown squarely on Greenspan and Bush's clueless administration plus Wall Street bankers. We all lived through it and this book explains what happened and why.
Thorn MotherIssues
What's not here is a lot more intriguing than what is. How did the book contract buoy the author's finances when he wasn't able to cover his ludicrous mortgage? How on earth did he and his wife (and ex-wife and maybe kids' grandparents?) cover college tuition? I know there are even more details that have come out in other articles I haven't read yet, but those were pretty obvious from the text itself. I'd recommend just reading the piece Andrews wrote for The New York Times magazine, excerpted a ...more
Kate
I enjoyed this, although some of that was from judging his bad decisions. A view from the trenches of how people could make such bad choices.
William Day
Very interesting book that delves into the reasons for the recent/current financial meltdown. The author chronicles his plunge into debt as a result of buying a house he couldn't afford and other financial mistakes made as a result of a divorce and second marriage. He's very frank about the mistakes he made and the effects they had on his and his families’ life. He also explores the financial industries actions that helped create the problem. An excellent book for anyone who wants to know more a ...more
Virginia
I read the short version of this in the New York Times Magazine a few months ago. This explained the whole financial meltdown and housing crisis in very clear terms, I feel much more informed and cogent about the whole thing after listening to this book. That said, the author made some really stupid personal decisions. (I am still boggling at what on earth he would DO with $3K in income leftover after the mortgage, and feel that this was not enough to live on.)
Gene Wiggins
An in-depth view of the cause of the financial collapse and how sub-prime mortgages were the cause. Very good explanations in layman's terms for those individuals not involved with finance.
Daniel DeLappe
Not a bad book but could have been better. It is amazing though that everything that happened to this guy and the economy is guess who's fault-Come on now he works for the New York Times-Yes George W Bush. Like I said not a bad book, but could have been much much better and with a little more depth without the political BS. Wish he would have gone more into what kind of problems this caused in his personal life.
Erin
This book was very fascinating! It weaved through the personal financial crisis of the author and the national housing crisis. It was very interesting to read about the origins of subprime and other bad loans. Really, who was to blame? It's hard to say. The book got a little boring at times when the author delved into the technical terms of finances and the economy. Overall, an easy and informative read.
Trish
I didn't have much sympathy for the author. He is an educated and well informed NY Times economics reporter who got caught up in the overheated housing market. He did a good job explaining how adjustable rate and sub-prime mortgages work. This book is a good cautionary tale, especially for people who may buy a house in the near future; it also is a good reminder not to live beyond your means.
Maureen
Jun 08, 2009 Maureen marked it as to-read
I may or may not read this book. I heard the interview on NPR. The author is a $100k/year financial reporter who, I THINK, claims that the US financial system partially caused him to go into foreclosure. What caused this man to go into foreclosure was his insistence on owning a house he could not afford.

If you must read his book, don't buy it! Check it out of the library.
David
A bit dated (mostly personal/national events prior to mid-2008). Wish he focused more on the personal journey through the crisis and maybe add personal stories of others homeowners in similar situations rather then going off to talk about wall street. Also would have been interesting see the crises from his wife's and children's perspective. A skimmer.
Leslie
Interesting tale of one's descent in the hell of the sub prime mortgage meltdown. What makes the story especially interesting are two points: 1. Andrews is a financial writer for the NY Times. 1. He left out some crucial info, and was outed by the Atlantic. HIs second wife, for whom he left his first wife, filed for BK twice, and is a spendthrift.
Julie
Deeply researched and well documented back story of how our financial markets got screwed up by the mortgage industry, Wall Street, the government and the American greed dream. I didn't care for the authors first person accounting of how the meltdown effected his family. He's a good reporter, but he's also an idiot with a checkbook.
Susan
Written by a NY Times Financial writer, this book provides both a micro and macro play by play of the mortgage crisis. Slightly technical, the writer's personal journey with an ARM and loads of debt point to the tendency of Americans to go for the facade of an middle class dream. Well written, I devoured this book.
Zach
A reporter gets in way over his head with bad mortgages and bad decisions, then writes a book about his experiences and the overall system. Guess that's one way of raising money to help pay the mortgage. However the content is basically a glorified long magazine article, and not particularly compelling.
Bridget
This is a good surface overview of the mortgage meltdown. The author's personal story is woven in with the big picture and that helped to keep my interest. There is a good teaser for the book here.
Zac
This was a short but intresting read- it really explored indepth the events leading up to the current economic crisis. The author's personal story was interweaved throughout which put a human face on the crisis which can be so easily reduced to numbers and charts.
Kelly
Interesting. This guy is a total loon for what he did. He makes a good case of this being a dual problem -- both on the banks and on the individuals. In different ways, different blame can be placed.
That said, his bias was annoying.
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Edmund L. Andrews has been a reporter for the New York Times for the past sixteen years. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.
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