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Review: Plunder: Investigating Our Economic Calamity and the Subprime Scandal
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Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

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By Norm Goldman
Published on November 24, 2008
 


Author: Danny Schechter

ISBN: 978-1-60520-315-7

Publisher: Cosimo Books

Not many of us fully grasp what is happening to the global economy or as Danny Schechter author of Plunder: Investigating Our Economic Calamity and the Subprime Scandal quotes Nouriel Roubini, chairman of Roubini Global Economics LLC in New York, “the first crisis of financial globalization and securitization.”




 

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Author: Danny Schechter

ISBN: 978-1-60520-315-7

Publisher: Cosimo Books

Not many of us fully grasp what is happening to the global economy or as Danny Schechter author of Plunder: Investigating Our Economic Calamity and the Subprime Scandal quotes Nouriel Roubini, chairman of Roubini Global Economics LLC in New York, “the first crisis of financial globalization and securitization.”

How did it happen, who is to blame, how and will we get out of this mess, and should we go after the white-collar bandits who pulled off this incredible crime? Moreover, it is mind boggling to witness Federal financial institutions, whose purpose was to provide diligent oversight, adopt an aggressively deregulatory attitude concerning the institutions they were called upon to police. These were institutions whose executives were unconscionable, greedy with their bonuses, incentives, and outlandish compensation packages and furthermore who were unashamedly breaching their fiduciary duties. These same culprits are now begging the government and indirectly the tax- payer for financial aid in order to keep afloat their financial institutions.

Schechter is an investigative journalist and Director of the film In Debt We Trust. He is also a television producer and independent filmmaker who writes and speaks about media issues. He has won two National Emmy awards for his TV work with ABC news 20/20 (and two nominations); two regional Emmys, a National Headliner award, and the Society for Professional Journalists award for an investigative documentary. Amnesty International honored him for his human rights television work and in 2005 he received the George Orwell Award.

The title of his book, may at first glance sound unexciting, however, I can assure you that its contents are quite aggressive, provocative, and thought provoking. Schechter aims to break down the causes and effects that surround, and according to him and many others, “the biggest and most deceptive financial scandal in history in terms of the total amount of money stolen and then lost. We are talking about trillions.”     

The book divides itself into seven chapters, the last of which attempts to tie everything together with three Afterwords: Is This Story Being Told? Can You Challenge the Financial News Narrative? Faction vs Fiction-Mistakes the Media Made. However, before we reach these final afterthoughts, Schechter provides us with a in-depth account as to how we got into the chaos in the first place as he scrutinizes the lack of regulation, fiscal policies, and the greed of major financial institutions that were permitted to spread their scams that wound up defrauding investors and borrowers alike. Schechter informs us that he tracked the evolution of the crisis week by week in blogs, newsletter, and articles. And as he states, the story is not over as it is still evolving about an economy that continues to unravel. Schechter emphasizes that it is important to understand how it unfolded and thus he provides us with the chronicle he kept.

Schechter mentions that in 2005, when he first began to poke around on the fringes of the story, he had been motivated by a much smaller problem-how to understand his own dependence on credit cards, and why his saving account was shrinking away. However, the more he delved into the matter the more he began to realize that he was looking at a debt bomb that went off in America and was a sound that was heard around the world. “Like a contagion, it corrupted many financial institutions and we are still assessing the full impact.” 

Quite interesting, Schechter demonstrates how few media outlets investigated the predatory behavior of many lenders that deliberately and intentionally seduced people into taking loans they couldn’t afford. In fact, when more people became aware of the “subprime” debacle, very few in the media or on The Street suspected that there might have been more to it than just market mistakes. It was only when the banks began writing down billions of dollars in liens and no real assets backing them that the media began to wake up, however, by then it was too late, the damage had been done and the bubble burst.  Schechter even compares the disastrous California fires to the economic catastrophe where, “when you scratch the scorched surface of the newsy inferno you get deeper causes, a lack of planning and monitoring, not to mention the inattention by government. Sound familiar?” 

Plunder: Investigating Our Economic Calamity and the Subprime Scandal is an impassioned wake-up call that is very accessible to the layperson with its clear-headed prose, although it is one that will probably move and shock as well as it informs. Some of us may have a smattering of knowledge of what is going on through our daily news, however, what Schechter does with this book is to delve into the details, delivering informative insights that will help us understand the fear, panic and uncertainty that has engulfed our economy as well as those around the world.       


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