Villain. Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner seethe with anger about the financial crisis and put that anger on the pages of their new book, Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon. While the book contains all the familiar characters, practices and companies that are at the heart of the crisis, Morgenson and Rosner call attention to a person rarely mentioned by other journalists: James Johnson, former CEO of Fannie Mae. He becomes the poster child of the behavior that led to disaster: the proponent of programs for the poor that enriched him greatly and placed the most vulnerable at risk. He pocketed $100 million by expanding home ownership through loose credit standards and deft political maneuvering. Put another way: Johnson was the one who set in motion everything that Angelo Mozilo and Countrywide and others did. It’s no surprise that of the hundreds of people they interviewed, Johnson refused their requests. Most readers who pick up this book will come away from it as angry as the authors.
Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)
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