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Middlemarch: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds, Reviews and Criticism (A Norton Critical Edition)
Bert G. Hornback, George Eliot
The Magic Mountain
Thomas Mann, John E. Woods
Love in the Time of Cholera
Gabriel García Márquez

Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America

Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America - Charles H. Ferguson Not quite a 2008 Finanical Crisis for Dummies, this is something of a quasi-introductory text, along with a non-attorney's indictment of numerous persons, public and private.

Makes the case that the crisis was caused by numerous defects, including the decades' long process of deregulation, insane incentives in finance, and so on. Conclusively, but briefly, refutes the rightwing mythology that the crisis was caused by too much regulation and the Community Reinvestment Act.

Details involvement in the crisis of mortgage lenders & brokers, old school investment banks, commercial banks, money market funds, private equity funds, hedge funds, the securities ratings firms, the regulators, and the Federal Reserve.

Initially seems to throw the designation criminal around a bit too casually, but the text that follows puts paid to this allegation--there appears to be massive frauds involved, including the upsidedown practice of knowingly selling securities that included defaulted subprime housing notes, but then immediately turning around and investing in abstract securities that relied on predictions that the housing notes aforesaid would in fact default and the securities based thereupon would fail--without notifying their investor clients, the banks, or regulators--and even while putting those same securities up as collateral for money market short-term lending--and even while further allowing the AAA fiction of the captive ratings firms to be published as propaganda in support of the securities aforesaid.

The fact that the financiers responsible paid themselves deferred compensation and bonuses out of federal assistance moneys is simply a punchline and a coda to the enormity of all of it--and, as is usual, the bourgeois press missed the real problems here, pooh-poohing the low-hanging fruit of golden parachutes to the exclusion of more complicated, but more significant issues. Hell, the journalist lays out a moral position by interrogating billion-dollar bonuses; why not get into the meat a bit, then?

Overall, thick like a Kevin Phillips book. As it is not quite an intermediate-level text on the subject, persons with more knowledge than me might find it dull. (Attorneys will be sometimes annoyed by sloppiness within the scope of their balliwick--but this is not intrinsic; the narrative and history of deregulation is what counts here.) Marked by an unnecessary jingoism at times (as the title might indicate), but otherwise generally sympathetic to the OWS movement.

Lotsa data and corporate histories laid down. Critiques both Bush and Obama, while reaching back to Clinton and Reagan. Definitely does not present a fake bilateralism; there's hardly another side to be shown--except to state that everything that occurred was completely lawful. I can live with that, as that transforms crony capitalism into capitalism proper, reserving, of course, the marxist objection that we're not really talking about capitalism, but about speculative trading, which is ancient, even if the abstract derivatives at issue are novelties.