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Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America [Paperback]

Charles H Ferguson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

21 May 2013
Charles H. Ferguson, who electrified the world with his Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job, now explains how a predator elite took over the country, step by step, and he exposes the networks of academic, financial, and political influence, in all recent administrations, that prepared the predators' path to conquest.

Over the last several decades, the United States has undergone one of the most radical social and economic transformations in its history. Finance has become America's dominant industry, while manufacturing, even for high technology industries, has nearly disappeared.
The financial sector has become increasingly criminalized, with the widespread fraud that caused the housing bubble going completely unpunished. Federal tax collections as a share of GDP are at their lowest level in sixty years, with the wealthy and highly profitable corporations enjoying the greatest tax reductions.

Most shockingly, the United States, so long the beacon of opportunity for the ambitious poor, has become one of the world's most unequal and unfair societies.
If you're smart and a hard worker, but your parents aren't rich, you're now better off being born in Munich, Germany or in Singapore than in Cleveland, Ohio or New York.

This radical shift did not happen by accident.
Ferguson shows how, since the Reagan administration in the 1980s, both major political parties have become captives of the moneyed elite. It was the Clinton administration that dismantled the regulatory controls that protected the average citizen from avaricious financiers.
It was the Bush team that destroyed the federal revenue base with its grotesquely skewed tax cuts for the rich.
And it is the Obama White House that has allowed financial criminals to continue to operate unchecked, even after supposed ';reforms' installed after the collapse of 2008.

Predator Nation reveals how once-revered figures like Alan Greenspan and Larry Summers became mere courtiers to the elite. Based on many newly released court filings, it details the extent of the crimesthere is no other wordcommitted in the frenzied chase for wealth that caused the financial crisis.
And, finally, it lays out a plan of action for how we might take back our country and the American dream.


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Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America + Inside Job: The Financiers Who Pulled Off the Heist of the Century + Inside Job [DVD] [2011]
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Product details

  • Paperback: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business (21 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307952568
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307952561
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 427,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5.0 out of 5 stars satisfaction 18 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am satisfied with the product. I encourage all customers who such a product needs. The price is right for the product.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Please be aware that this is a reprint of Inside Job: The Financiers Who Pulled Off the Heist of the Century, with a new title and cover.

I'll let the reviews of that book speak for themselves, it's an extremely well written and detailed account of what exactly the financial sector has been allowed to get away with over the last 30 years,
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By Robert Morris TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Other reviews have (collectively) covered most of the most important points to be made about this book and now, with the publication of a paperbound edition, I hope those points have a wider audience. As I began to read this book, sharing Charles Ferguson's opinions about "where we are now" as a nation, I was reminded of two film characters: Gary Cooper as "John Doe" in a film directed by Frank Capra, Meet John Doe" (1941), and Peter Finch as Howard Beale in Network (1976), directed by Sidney Lumet. However different their circumstances are, and however dated each film may now seem, both suggest the potential power of collective resistance to a common enemy, in this instance what Ferguson characterizes as those responsible for "a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud"; however, "not a single executive has gone to jail." Ferguson received an Academy Award for the best documentary film, Inside Job, in 2010. "Since the release of my film, a large amount of new material has emerged, especially from private lawsuits, that reveals, through e-mail trails and other evidence, that many bankers, including senior management, knew [begin italics] exactly [end italics] what was going on, and that it was high fraudulent. Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  83 reviews
166 of 177 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bad news, right down the line/ (A quiz makes it less gloomy) 30 May 2012
By Jesse Kornbluth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The last time we saw Charles Ferguson, he was beginning his remarks on the occasion of his Academy Award for "Inside Job" with these blunt words: "Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by financial fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that's wrong."

Now he's back with a book that --- big surprise --- documents the atrocities.

But that's the least of it.

The larger argument of "Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America" is that "over the last thirty years the U.S. financial sector has become a rogue industry... Since the 1990s, its power has been sufficient to insulate bankers not only from effective regulation but even from criminal law enforcement. The financial sector is now a parasitic and destabilizing industry that constitutes a major drag on American economic growth....So one reason for writing this book is to lay out in painfully clear detail the case for criminal prosecutions."

Ferguson is far from the only writer to feel this way. I can name a dozen others --- but they are all bloggers. Ferguson, in contrast, sold a company for $100 million. Won an Academy Award. And --- this is telling --- he thinks Obama is just as much the bitch of Wall Street as Bush was. As Clinton was. As Reagan was.

Let's be clear: This is not a political book, not an election year screed teed up to help either candidate. It's a horror story: how you and I became second-class citizens in our own country, how most Americans have no idea how this happened, how very unlikely we can do much about it before Wall Street's stranglehold on Washington solidifies the dominance of an elite whose only allegiance is to its own money.

Few of us have followed this story closely. We can't. We're too busy surviving. We have, at best, a general idea of the plot: In the saga of boom and bust on Wall Street, the only people who were busted were individual investors.

So let me not bang on. Let me, instead present some of Ferguson's case in the form of a quiz. Answers at bottom. (Try not to cheat. On the other hand, considering the subject...)

1) From 2000 to the financial meltdown of 2008, what percentage of mortgages were used to finance purchases of the buyer's first home?

2) Between 2000 and 2006, how much did prices of U.S. homes increase?

3) Some believe that the subprime bubble was caused by deadbeats who scammed their way into mortgages. What percentage of people who gave fraudulent data to get subprime loans during these years had help from mortgage brokers?

4) By 2005 what percentage of all American GDP growth was housing-related?

5) In 2004 the SEC voted unanimously to a) limit leverage at investment banks to 20% b) limit leverage to 50% or c) let investment banks calculate their own leverage limits.

6) In the third quarter of 2007, when Merrill Lynch was falling apart, how often did its CEO, Stan O'Neal, play golf? a) not at all. b) once. c) 20 times.

7) Ferguson writes: "The President and senior administration officials have portrayed themselves as frustrated and hamstrung --- desirous of punishing those responsible for the crisis but unable to do so because their conduct wasn't illegal, and/or the federal government lacks sufficient power to sanction them." Ferguson finds this view a) "sad but true" b) proof that "Wall Street rules" or c) "complete horses--t."

8) In the past decade, how much has the financial services industry given to American politicians? a) $500 million b) $1 billion c) $5 billion.

9) How does the U.S. rank in broadband deployment? a) first b) twentieth c) fiftieth.

10) What does the American telecommunications industry spend more on? a) lobbying b) research & development.

11) In 2009, Britain enacted a tax on banking bonuses. At what rate? a) 15% b) 25% c) 50%.

Now look at your answers. Depressing, yes?

Okay, who's to blame? For Ferguson, the answer is: neither political party. Or, rather, both.

But there are huge differences between our political parties these days, you say.

Yes, says Ferguson, on social issues. But on economic issues --- which is what people with money seem to care about a lot more than gay marriage --- the parties are, he argues, in complete agreement:

"Both political parties have been remarkably clever and effective in concealing this new reality. In fact, the two parties have formed an innovative kind of cartel --- an arrangement I have termed America's political duopoly. Both parties lie about the fact that they have each sold out to the financial sector and the wealthy. So far both have largely gotten away with the lie, helped in part by the enormous amount of money now spent on deceptive, manipulative political advertising."

The result: an economic elite, lawless and arrogant. A bought-and-paid-for government. And a growing underclass: "There are now tens of millions of Americans whose condition is little better than many people in poor third-world nations."

It is obligatory that books with information this dark show a flash of light at the end. Ferguson does this too: "Americans are getting angry, and even when they're misguided or poorly informed, people have a deep, visceral sense that they're being screwed."

Fine. We're getting screwed and we know it. So what?

Now, Ferguson says, we try to save our democracy. We invest in education. We "bring the financial sector under control." We limit the impact of money on elections. We reform the tax system. We consider broadband as "infrastructure" and build it out.

Show of hands: How many think this can happen?

ANSWERS

1) Fewer than 10%. Many more mortgages were taken out to buy a second home, refinance a prior mortgage or extract equity out of a home.

2) According to the U.S. National Home Price Index, home prices doubled --- the largest, fastest increase in history.

3) 80%.

4) 50%.

5) c) The banks could set their own limits.

6). c) He played golf 20 times.

7. c) "complete horses--t."

8) c) $5 billion.

9) b) twentieth.

10) a) lobbying.

11) c) 50%.
87 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures a Non-discussible 24 May 2012
By Walter J. Meldrich, Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book has a little discussed aspect that is very important. The author is not afraid to bring into focus that most of our institutions have been taken over by the criminal class. This is a cultural issue that is not addressed by most other books on the great recession. I believe it is a very big deal to finally discuss the fact that today's business leaders are being paid massive, obscene salaries to game the system through criminal behavior instead of trying to compete on a level playing field. It is also useful in that it discusses how deep the infiltration is, in that it includes academia. Our business schools are becoming as corrupt as the CEO's. Be prepared for some shocking findings in this book and have the antacids ready.
62 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read 27 May 2012
By Jeremy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have read many of the recently published books on the financial crises over the past few years in an effort to better understand what happened. This book is by far the best that I have read to date. It details not only what happened and how the crisis was created but also who was behind it and how they benefited. The most interesting chapters discuss the many laws that were broken by the large financial institutions and complete absence of prosecution by any law enforcement agency in the US.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important Political Book 29 May 2012
By Hans G. Despain - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Ferguson has an unambiguous purpose in this book. Namely, to document that the financial sector in the United States has become criminalized by perverse incentives of financial executives and for financial companies more generally. The governance of the industry is now oligarchic and the cultural of the industry is scandalous and promotes impropriety. In this sense it is a "who done it" story more than it is "how it was done" (Mark Zandi's Financial Shock (Updated Edition), (Paperback): Global Panic and Government Bailouts--How We Got Here and What Must Be Done to Fix It remains the best single short source for the specific definitions and details of the financial collapse [see my amazon review]; the best books on explaining the finanical collapse from a more theoretical perspective are Nouriel Roubini's Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance, Charles Morris' The Two Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash, and Simon Johnson's 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown (Vintage). Foster and Magdoff impressively anticipate the financial collapse in their The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences.

Ferguson's political warning is that the perverse incentives of financial executives and their agents have not been adequately changed, and the Obama administration has accomplished next to nothing towards (pp. 300 - 8) changing incentives and rigorous regulation. Compounding the national economic problems is, according to Ferguson, that both political parties are complacent _and_ participatory in the presence and dominance of the financial oligarchy.

The book has ten chapters. The first five chapters rehearse the financial crisis of 2007-8 by means of the actions and behaviors of the primary banks, their executives and agents. Ferguson argues that the financial bubble, created by the innovation of various financial investment vehicles (CDOs, CDSs etc.), was no mistake or accident, but systematic fraud and a scandalous corporate culture engrained in American finance. This story is now well known, and somewhat popularized, in part thanks to Ferguson's documentary film, Inside Job, and several good books such as Matt Taibbi's Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History and Michael Lewis's The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine.

Ferguson's book is another effort in the tradition to more or less popularize the shenanigans of the financial industry. This is very important political activity, because unless American citizens demand change, no politician can gain the political momentum to execute the institutional change that is needed to avoid another financial collapse. Ferguson's book has particular advantages over the other popularizers. Over Taibbi, Ferguson has a far greater grasp of finance, economics and politics; and over Lewis, Ferguson understands that many bankers saw the collapse coming. The crisis was not an historical accident.

Ferguson's main contribution comes from his last five chapters. Chapter six is an argument for prosecution of the criminal activity of the employees of financial services firms. Chapter seven is an argument that the financial sector has functioned more as a "parasitic industry" than it has been agents of intermediation to generate stable economic growth. Ferguson here has a very strong point, and very much shared by James K. Galbraith (see below) in his The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too.

Chapter eight draws out the conflict of interest between academics and their various posts and positions with government and the financial industry. Academics are not necessarily objective analyzers, but well compensated participates. Earlier this year there was an important paper published, "Dangerous interconnectedness: economists' conflict of interest, ideology and financial crisis" in _Cambridge Journal of Economics_ authored by Jessica Carrick-Hagenbarth and Gerald Epstein, that fully supports Ferguson's warning (available online).

Chapter nine attempts to document the symbiotic relationship between the financial industry and the political system (a cartel-like system dominated by two mutually supported parties with regard to the lack of adequate regulation of the financial industry). Finally, chapter ten is a very hastily written "What Should Be Done?" Here Ferguson argues we need to strengthen American education and the nation's infrastructure, along with reforming the tax system, strengthen antitrust policy, reform and better regulate finance, and control the impact of money on American politics. Well, we can embrace all these, but if Ferguson's argument is correct in first nine chapters, we also know why this is not likely to happen. Ferguson's statement here needed to be far stronger! Organization of grassroot movements and democratic citizen pressure that can be put on both the financial industry and politicians (already started by the Tea Partiers and Occupiers).

There is a strong affinity between Ferguson's book and James K. Galbraith book The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too. It is quite curious that Ferguson fails to cite Galbraith. Galbraith's book is far stronger on why free-market ideology came to dominate the ideas of academics and American politics. Galbraith is also far superior on the reasons why the economics polices of the last 40 years have failed and led to predation as an economic and political phenomena. Ferguson however far better documents the specifics of the predation, especially within the financial industry (chapters 2 - 5), it relation to academia (chapter 8), _and_ within the political system (chapter 9).

This book deserves a wide audience and serious scrutiny.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No matter how many financial crisis books you've read, you need to read this one. 9 Jun 2012
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've read three or four financial crisis books including the FCIC report (well worth reading and can be downloaded free from the FDIC website) and I didn't expect to find much new in this book. But it was featured and recommended in a segment on Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer on Current TV and since he knows a lot about financial sector crime and misbehaviour being one of the few who tried to prosecute it, I bought the book. This is an extremely well researched piece of work and is far more comprehensive than any individual book I've read about the financial crisis. The widespread sheer criminality and amorality of large numbers of people has been exposed to an even higher degree then I was already aware of. The lack of will of the government to put a stop to any of this thereby encouraging bad behaviour painstakingly presented. The corrosive effect not just on American society but on American ideals and the idea of America is thoroughly depicted. Yet the author has hope that a day will come that the American people won't take if any more. But what if by that time we are too demoralized to do anything about it?
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