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Book Excerpt: Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity

Investors should be terrified by combinations of the words “fundamentals,” “economy” and “strong.”

One difference between the previous financial panics and the real estate and subprime-mortgage collapse is the sheer number of people involved. “No money down” was an invitation for people far away from Wall Street to take Wall Street-like risks. Just about everyone in America could afford no money down. It wasn’t a financial market that panicked, it was the larger society; and the list of people and ideas that could plausibly be blamed for the mess was long: ratings agencies, mortgage brokers, mortgage originators, Bill Clinton. Gretchen Morgensen at the New York Times blamed Wall Street, for exploiting the middle class. Wall Street people—who lost a lot more money than the poor—blamed their CEOs. … Back to Article

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