The authors cover each area with the technical skills of the consummate experts they are, but with a political sensitivity that finessed the issue of blame and culpability. Even though they named all of the players, they left it up to the reader to draw conclusions about the guilt or innocence of the players. Thus, they were much too careful in avoiding any finger pointing. Thus I finished the book with the very uneasy feeling that all their work was in vain: At some point blame must be assessed if systemic problems of this nature are to be fixed once and for all, so that similar ones can be avoided in the future. But in this book, as in officialdom itself, there was, by and large, no such assessment.
Very few exceptions:
Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo disclosed last Tuesday that they were facing inquiries from the Securities and Exchange Commission over mortgage-related investments offered to investors several years ago. Other banks, including JPMorgan Chase, are expected to disclose receiving such notices as well.
The S.E.C.'s enforcement director, Robert Khuzami, said at a news conference last month that among the S.E.C.'s targets was disclosure: whether banks selling mortgage-related investments failed to fully account for the riskiness of the home loans bundled in the securities.
The S.E.C. and Goldman have tussled before, notably in 2010 when the agency sued the firm over a bundle of mortgage-backed securities known as Abacus 2007-AC1, which had been assembled to allow clients to bet against the housing market. Goldman eventually settled the lawsuit for a paltry $550 million.
Meltdown: The Secret History of the Global Financial Collapse.
Meltdown, the documentary film linked below, is the story of the bankers who crashed the world, the leaders who struggled to save it, and the ordinary families who got crushed.
September 2008 launched an extraordinary chain of events: General Motors, the world's largest company, went bust. Washington Mutual became the world's largest bank failure. Lehman Brothers became the world's largest bankruptcy ever, and the damage from all this quickly spread "round the world, shattering global confidence in the fundamental structures of the international economy.
Meltdown also tells the stories of desperate foreclosed homeowners in California, disillusioned autoworkers at the end of the line in Ontario and furious workers in France who shocked the world by kidnapping their own bosses.