Subtitled “How Real Estate Came to Own Us”, Katz’s book attempts to explain the explosive growth of the United States real estate market and the develSubtitled “How Real Estate Came to Own Us”, Katz’s book attempts to explain the explosive growth of the United States real estate market and the development of mortgage-backed securities leading to the housing bubble and the economic crisis of 2008. Starting right at the start of the Great Depression, Katz explains how President Roosevelt saw construction of homes — not just the bridges and tunnels history books highlight — as a key tool to jump starting the economy and putting Americans back to work, which lead to one of the first mortgage crises.
The government pushed to open up borrowing for Americans, particularly after World War II, through government-backed enterprises. These enterprises, however, preyed upon the poor charging unbelievable interest rates and supported discrimination against people of color while encouraging white Americans to move to newly developed suburbs.
The dismantling of the banking regulation under President Reagan allowed the traditional lenders of home loans and, in hindsight, rather risk-adverse savings and loans establishments to become more involved in risky investments leading to the S&L crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. The response to this crisis, according to Katz, was to further dismantle the regulatory separation between savings and loans establishments and investment banks under President Clinton, who made it a national priority to push for more Americans, particularly people of color, to purchase homes. This push was also championed by President Bush, and banks became these behemoth monstrosities where lenders were told to push sub-prime mortgages while the banks that owned them traded these toxic mortgages at huge profit margins. Too many hands in the cookie jar yet too big to fail.
The information about housing crises pre-2008 was entirely new to me, although I had read about the push to turn all Americans into homeowners by both Presidents Clinton and Bush before and knew that policy had contributed to the current financial crisis. I had never heard of home construction being a cornerstone of the New Deal long before the GI Bill passed following World War II, which provided low-interest mortgages to returning (white) servicemen, and while it wasn’t always the easiest story to follow, it is one that I was glad to finally be hearing. Once again, it seems that no one has been paying attention to history because much of what occurred then resurfaced again during the current crisis because just today I read about how home construction needs to be jump-started once again in order to raise the United States out of its current recession. Never mind how such policies have lead to a series of unstable booms followed by crippling busts; never mind that the Millennials who should be buy homes right now are crushed by student loan debt.
My enjoyment of the book, however, declined towards the end as Katz moved onto to more present-day concerns: shoddy construction in California, mortgage fraud in Atlanta, dubious land schemes in Florida, and efforts to abolish rent control in New York. The addition of these stories, I think, are to help the reader feel less, well, helpless with the whole situation and while I certainly am open to hearing about these particular problems, such regionalism and specifics pull attention from the historically-based, big picture critiquing narrative she had been constructing for the reader....more
I downloaded this book from my uncle’s Kindle account. He has a whole slew of “fixing” America how-to books and I’ve always been intrigued by his seleI downloaded this book from my uncle’s Kindle account. He has a whole slew of “fixing” America how-to books and I’ve always been intrigued by his selections. This book, subtitled “Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility”, was the title I found my finger hoovering over time and time again.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people complain about paying taxes. Nobody likes paying taxes but we derive so many services from paying taxes that I’m always flabbergasted by people’s refusal to pay them. Walker doesn’t follow down this path exactly. Instead, he advocates that we follow Europe’s lead with a Value Added Tax (VAT).
Even with this new tax, Walker says we should dial back Medicare and Social Security and give up on the dream of health care for all. The general theme is that the government should get out of the business of helping people, and the solutions are so grandiose in nature that it’s hard to derive some practicality from them....more
I'm not very good at visiting my professors during office hours unless I've received a bad grade or I'm asking for a recommendation letter. Visit a prI'm not very good at visiting my professors during office hours unless I've received a bad grade or I'm asking for a recommendation letter. Visit a professor for advice on a paper? Never! Yet this book has me completely rethinking my refusal.
I had hit a wall with my final paper for my social justice class because, while I did have an idea, it was so grandiose and broad that I had no clue if it was actually met the requirements for the final paper. My professor not only helped me refine my idea but he let me borrow this book from his personal library. I couldn't not have written that paper without this book. Moral of the story? Go to office hours just to chat and not to complain and beg.
Subtitled "Urban and Regional Change and Conflict in Post-Socialist Societies", this book is a collection of essays by different authors on the transition of socialist cities into capitalist ones, focusing largely on housing privatization in the former communist states of Easter Europe and the Soviet Union. Basically, the book argues that cities like East Berlin, Warsaw, and Saint Petersburg will decide the trajectory in which formerly socialist countries will take. The physical structure of the city was so vastly altered during socialism that undoing the construction of micro-regional housing complexes on the outskirts of the city and parade sites and monuments in the city center through the forces of capitalism could lead to corruption. (Or, you could be like Hungary, and dump all your old statues in one location and charge admission to Westerners to see them.) Furthermore, a lack of protection for the new urban underclass will doom these countries to cycles of violence and social unrest.
I was afraid the book would be a very dense read and inaccessible to someone not all that familiar with socialism/communism. Not true. It's actually very informative and easy to understand. Why the authors didn't explicit answer the questions I was formulating for my own paper on social justice and the socialist city, I learned so much background information that my paper was much better than had it been without reading this book. ...more
The first edition of Unholy Trinity was co-written and titled by students who took the same class I’m currently taking. This edition, though, is definThe first edition of Unholy Trinity was co-written and titled by students who took the same class I’m currently taking. This edition, though, is definitely all Professor Peet.While it’s not nearly as confusing as Geography of Power, this book goes off on tangent after tangent.
Unholy Trinity delves into what Peet considers to be undemocratic, American-dominated organizations that operates more as corporations than organizations committed to every member country’s interest. Peet does a good job of introducing the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization both in historical context and their current form, but the third member of this unholy triad, the World Bank, is virtually ignored by Peet as it’s given the least amount of attention.
The problem is, though, that Peet takes the long road to his point, and while he chases his tangents, I either lose focus on what he’s saying or I zero in on his tangent instead of his point. I hate how he refers to himself in the Royal ‘We’, and I wish he would write his books the way he talks — simple, straightforward. Instead, Peet writes confusing things like:
“These diverse articulations, between the global and the local, can be described using a set of geopolitical terms that combine the political-discursive-rational dimension with the geographical-organizational-power dimension.” (pg. 23)
No wonder so many people come to discussion group scratching their heads.
Regardless, if you can get past the confusing language, Unholy Trinity is a pretty good introduction to reasons to the anit-IMF, World Bank, and WTO camp. However, the greatest downfall of this book is the fact that there is very little discussion of the other side, of why there are some who are pro-IMF, World Bank, and WTO. He’s offers some pieces of pro-opinion in order to critique it, but ultimately replies upon critiques of his tangent topics to carry his argument....more
I have never had so much fun reading a textbook in my entire school career. It’s quite obvious that Principles of Macroeconomics was written for someoI have never had so much fun reading a textbook in my entire school career. It’s quite obvious that Principles of Macroeconomics was written for someone who has never studied economics before. I felt like I was having a conversation with the author of the textbook rather than reading a textbook....more