By David Greenberg, Washington Post Outlook, 29 July 2011
David Greenberg is a professor of history and of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University. He is a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars for the 2010-11 academic year.
“Age of Greed” chronicles how Americans ended up with the highly unregulated financial system that produced the meltdown of 2008 and the fallout that lingers three years later. What’s most novel about the book, which relies heavily on other secondary accounts, is that unlike other recent treatments of the financial crisis, it traces the origins of the problem not to the Bush or Clinton or even Reagan years, but all the way to the late 1960s.
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The real scandal revealed by Madrick’s important book is not the well-known tales of dastards such as telecom analyst Jack Grubman or Internet stock promoter Frank Quattrone, but the more elusive — and more consequential — story of how the government came to abdicate this supreme responsibility.