订阅

多平台阅读

微信订阅

杂志

申请纸刊赠阅

订阅每日电邮

移动应用

商业 - 传媒与文化

《财富》书签:《鲁莽有罪》

Nina Easton 2011年08月03日

欢迎来到《财富》书签,通过这个每周一期新专栏,我们将带领大家以财富人的视角来解读最近新出版的书籍,了解商界内外。我们邀请了《财富》杂志(Fortune)的所有员工——从记者、编辑到图片编辑和设计师——来权衡他们根据自己口味和爱好所选择的书籍。每周我们都会奉上由不同的《财富》人撰写的书评。本周,妮娜•伊斯顿将带领大家解读格瑞琛•摩根森和乔舒华•罗斯的《鲁莽有罪》(Reckless Endangerment)一书。该书向大家揭示了金融危机幕后鲜为人知的几位罪魁祸首。

    每次举国危机过后出现的历史叙事总是充斥着批判之辞,同时不乏教训总结。但是这种叙事取材于大众媒体的揣测,充其量只能算是历史的初稿,它们往往只描述了事实真相的表面——甚至歪曲了真相。2008年的金融危机便是其中的一个例子。

    《鲁莽有罪》的作者格瑞琛•摩根森是《纽约时报》(New York Times)的财经记者并获得过普利策奖(Pulitzer Prize),该书的另一位作者乔舒华•罗斯从事金融顾问工作。人们一度普遍认为乔治•布什总统和华尔街的贪婪沆瀣一气,最终将世界经济拉入了泥沼。然而该书却推翻了这一看法,认为罪魁祸首另有其人——同时,该书还一进步剖析了民主党的权力架构。

    没错——当奥巴马总统抱怨他接手了一堆乱摊子时,他没有说错;但关于造成该局面的始作俑者,他却搞错了。

    房利美(Fannie Mae)前任首席执行官詹姆士•强森在作者所描述的耻辱柱前居于显要位置。他是一个十分有权势的经纪人,多位总统的密交,同时担任肯尼迪中心(Kennedy Center)的主席。从1991年至1998年,直到富兰克林•莱恩斯接替他的职位之前,强森将房利美公司变成了克林顿执政时期“住者有其居”政策的幕后引擎。该政策的拥趸包括当时的总统、财长罗伯特•鲁宾、住房部部长亨利•瑟斯纳罗斯和安德鲁•库默以及众议院金融服务委员会(House Banking Committee)主席巴尼•弗兰克等。为了让更多的人住有其居,“灵活”的借贷标准成了房利美公司的运营模式,推动了次贷的激增以及房市的崩盘。

    Behind every national crisis is a narrative that assigns blame and offers up lessons learned. But this first draft of history, drawn from popular media assumptions, often turns to be superficial -- even wrong. Such is the case with the 2008 financial collapse.

    Reckless Endangerment, by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times business reporter Gretchen Morgenson and financial consultant Joshua Rosner, upends the widely held belief that George Bush and Wall Street greed combined to bring down the world economy. The book offers an alternate list of culprits -- one that doubles as a grand tour of the Democratic Party's power structure.

    Yes -- President Obama is right when he complains that he inherited this mess; he's just wrong about who he inherited it from.

    Front and center in the authors' hall of shame is a figure who has largely escaped scrutiny: Former Fannie Mae CEO James A. Johnson, power broker, friend to presidents, Kennedy Center chair. From 1991 to 1998 -- before he was succeeded by Franklin Raines -- Johnson transformed Fannie Mae into the engine behind Clinton-era "homeownership for all" policies -- enthusiastically backed by the President, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, housing secretaries Henry Cisneros and Andrew Cuomo, and House Banking Committee Chair Barney Frank, among others. "Flexible" lending standards designed to get more people in homes became the Fannie Mae template that led to a rash of subprime mortgages-and a housing crash.

    作者还在书中写道,对于质疑“适用房”这一怪兽政策的敌人和官员,强森和他的房利美民主党帮凶极力打压,然而对于支持者,他们不遗余力地给予奖赏(1989年至2009年献金1亿美元用于赞助游说和相关运动)。强森之后与国家金融公司(Countrywide Financial)首席执行官安吉罗•莫兹罗联手(他所创立的抵押贷款模式成为了次贷的代名词)在房利美公司建立了一个十分诱人的奖励机制(据作者估计,他1998年一年的收入就达到了2,100万美元,之后该机构因会计造假而遭到调查)

    作者记载的这幕现代传奇中还揭示了很多“帮凶”:投行对于抵押贷款的资金支持,美联储主席阿兰•格林斯潘的货币政策,1986年税种的变化使得上百万房主加入了房屋净值贷款的消费债务大军中,银行跨行交易不再受萧条时代所推行的格拉斯-斯蒂格尔法案(Glass-Steagall)的限制,以及1999年共和党国会议员和克林顿阵营官员(例如鲁宾,他仍在利用相关法律变化从花旗集团(Citicorp,C)牟利)的联盟所带来的变化。

    然而作者明确表示,如果房利美没有充当放宽征信标准并取消传统的尽职调查(所有这些都是以扩大有房者比例为幌子)的急先锋,因房市泡沫而引发的金融危机将不会发生。

    令人遗憾的是,《鲁莽有罪》一书叙述手法不够流畅,缺乏对核心当事人的采访,这也使得它缺乏扣人心弦的魅力。正因为如此,这部记录金融史上重要篇章的著作将损失不少读者。民主党占多数席位的金融危机调查委员会(Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission)帮助房利美和房地美(Freddie Mac)开脱了大量的罪名,因此,更多的美国人有必要了解这两家公司的故事。作者认为必须将强森这样的角色公布于众,他目前所受到的唯一“惩罚”就是自从落选奥巴马副总统候选人之后他也未能获得财长提名。

    在了解“多德-弗兰克”(Dodd-Frank)的大名之前,我们也有必要阅读此书【Dodd-Frank是奥巴马总统华尔街改革法案(Wall Street reform bill)的简称】,这样我们便能充分体会其中的讽刺意味:两位被委以立法重任以预防下一次金融危机发生的人选竟然曾经是“房利美事件的忠实拥趸”。

    Along the way, the authors write, Johnson and his mostly Democratic cohorts at Fannie Mae threatened enemies and regulators who questioned the behemoth's "affordable housing" initiatives, while rewarding supporters (spending $100 million on lobbying and campaign contributions between 1989 and 2009). Johnson courted Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo, "founder of the mortgage lender that became synonymous with subprime" and instituted a fabulously rich bonus system at Fannie Mae (the authors estimated he earned $21 million in 1998 alone, and the agency later came under investigation for accounting fraud).

    The authors cite plenty of "enablers" in this saga: Investment banks whose spigot of money flowed through mortgage lenders, Fed chief Alan Greenspan's monetary policies, a 1986 tax change that led millions of homeowners to run up consumer debt on home equity loans, and the fall of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall wall between bank operations, a 1999 change resulting from an alliance of Republican lawmakers and Clinton officials like Rubin (who went on to take advantage of the law's change at Citicorp (C)).

    But they make clear that the financial collapse, the result of a dangerous housing bubble, would not have happened without Fannie Mae leading the way in relaxing underwriting standards and eliminating traditional due diligence -- all in the name of expanding homeownership.

    Reckless Endangerment lacks the rich story-telling style, or interviews with principals, that could have made the book a gripping read. That's too bad, because it will limit the audience for this important contribution to financial history. More Americans need to know the story of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were largely absolved of blame by the Democratic majority on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. More people need to read about figures like Johnson whose only "punishment" so far is that he hasn't been named Treasury Secretary and was dropped from candidate Obama's vice presidential search team.

    And more people need to read this book before they hear the name "Dodd-Frank," short-hand for President Obama's sweeping Wall Street reform bill, so that they can fully appreciate the "irony of having two of the nation's most strident defenders of Fannie Mae" sponsoring legislation designed to prevent the next financial meltdown.

我来点评

相关稿件

  最新文章

最新文章:

500强情报中心

财富专栏