New York Times Bestseller: A history of the S&L scandal that caused a financial disaster for American taxpayers: “Hard to put down” (Library Journal).
For most of the 20th century, savings and loans were an invaluable thread of the American economy. But in the 1970s, Congress passed sweeping financial deregulation at the insistence of industry insiders that allowed these once quaint and useful institutions to spread their taxpayer-insured assets into new and risky investments.
The looser regulations and reduced federal oversight also opened the industry to an army of shady characters, white-collar criminals, and organized crime groups. Less than 10 years later, half the nation’s savings and loans were insolvent, leaving the American taxpayer on the hook for a large hunk of the nearly half a trillion dollars that had gone missing.
The authors of Inside Job saw signs of danger long before the scandal hit nationwide. Decades after the savings and loan collapse, Inside Job remains a thrilling read and a sobering reminder that our financial institutions are more fragile than they appear.
Bound to be controversial, this impressive expose by three journalists charges that the S & L industry was taken over by a national network of Mafiosi, corrupt thrift officers, appraisers, auditors and arms- and drug-dealers laundering money, all of whom exploited opportunities provided by the 1982 deregulation. Fortified with unlimited broker deposits, the network plundered hundreds of federally insured thrifts. The authors discount the role of high oil prices, the Sunbelt recession and other factors as catalysts in the S & L disaster. Excepting Federal Home Loan Bank Board chairman Erwin Gray, who fought to limit deposit brokerage, Pizzo, Fricker and Muolo accuse the Justice Department, the courts and other federal and state agencies for ignoring or covering up four years of fraud. They also maintain that the guilty have not been punished and little of the loot has been recovered out of official fear of revelation.