OK, I admit it: I missed seeing it the first time around. Regardless, as I was doing my usual search-and-sift for information and insights on the current crisis, I came across an interesting document, published in March by the Consumer Education Foundation, a California-based non-profit, non-partisan consumer research, education and advocacy organization.
Entitled "Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America," (.pdf) the 231-page report makes the case that the current mess is the direct result of bad behavior on Wall Street and the corrupt connection between the powerful moneyed interests and those who make policy in Washington (and elsewhere).
Although I think there is a much more to it than that -- as I've noted in Financial Armageddon, many people played a role in getting us to this point, including ordinary Americans -- and that there are plenty of honest, hard-working people on Wall Street (and maybe even in our nation's capital), the argument certainly has merit.
Below is the report's "Executive Summary":
Blame Wall Street for the current financial crisis. Investment banks, hedge funds and commercial banks made reckless bets using borrowed money. They created and trafficked in exotic investment vehicles that even top Wall Street executives—not to mention firm directors—did not understand.
They hid risky investments in off balance- sheet vehicles or capitalized on their legal status to cloak investments altogether.
They engaged in unconscionable predatory lending that offered huge profits for a time, but led to dire consequences when the loans proved unpayable. And they created, maintained and justified a housing bubble, the bursting of which has thrown the United States and the world into a deep recession, resulted in a foreclosure epidemic ripping apart communities across the country.
But while Wall Street is culpable for the financial crisis and global recession, others do share responsibility. For the last three decades, financial regulators, Congress and the executive branch have steadily eroded the regulatory system that restrained the financial sector from acting on its own worst tendencies.