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From "the Ownership Society" to "Bailout Nation"

These two new books both tell versions of that story. In "Dumb Money" (originally published as an e-book several months ago), Mr. Gross gives the lay reader a succinct, breezy and sometimes snarky account of how "the Ownership Society" so quickly devolved "into Bailout Nation," how the Alan Greenspan era of low interest rates and "Cheap Money" (from late 2001 through 2004) begat the "Era of Dumb Money" (mid-2004 through mid-2006) of growing leverage and debt, and, eventually, the "Era of Dumber Money" (late 2006 to the calamities of 2008), in which "large, old-line investment banks waded chest-deep into the subprime" mortgage swamp, processing the debt (bundling it, selling its pieces and helping others trade them) in compulsive pursuit of lucrative fees, even as the housing bubble had started to burst.

-- Michiko Kakutani


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