Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff

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ej-fraudNot a moment too soon, Princeton University Press has just released Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff by historian & Duke University Vice Provost Ed Balleisen. (Some readers might be familiar with his earlier book on bankruptcy in Antibellum America).

As I learned when reviewing an earlier draft, Fraud is meticulously researched and completely fascinating, with plenty of careful attention to law and regulatory structures. The book’s other virtues are well encapsulated by Kirkus:

Balleisen casts a gimlet eye on the passing parade of hucksters and charlatans, peppering a narrative long on theory with juicy asides that build toward a comprehensive catalog of ‘Old Swindles in New Jargon’. . . . Ranging among the disciplines of history, economics, and psychology, Balleisen constructs a sturdy narrative of the many ways in which we have fallen prey to the swindler, and continue to do so, as well as of how American society and its institutions have tried to build protections against the con. But these protections eventually run up against accusations of violating ‘longstanding principles of due process,’ since the bigger the con, the more lawyers arrayed behind it.Kirkus Continue reading

The Big Lie.

Can't cheat an honest manIf you are asking yourself ‘why are judges ruling against homeowners when they know the banks scammed them?’ Then you need to understand a judge’s most basic insight into the human condition is that it is impossible to con an honest man.* It is larceny lurking in the soul of its victim that is preyed upon. What does that mean?

The mortgage deals were too good to be true – but the homeowners believed it to be the truth… because they wanted it to be and it all boils down to making “easy”  M-O-N-E-Y. Continue reading

CREDIT SLIPS – Crisis Books… a phenomenal resource

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Crisis books  posted by Alan White

I recently stumbled on this excellent compendium of more than 300 books on the financial crisis.  It also includes a list of 25 or so books that predicted the crisis, as well as a useful link to an annotated list of individuals who can be given credit for predicting various aspects of the crisis. [This is terrific reference material. Be sure to bookmark. DC Ed.] Continue reading