Magazine October 20, 2008, Issue

Anatomy of a Train Wreck

Houses in a suburb of Denver, Colo. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)
The causes of the mortgage meltdown

Why did the mortgage market melt down so badly? Why were there so many defaults when the economy was not particularly weak? Why were the securities based upon these mortgages not considered anywhere near as risky as they actually turned out to be? Although there are many factors involved, the key and fundamental answer is that, in an attempt to increase homeownership — particularly among minorities and the less affluent — an attack on underwriting standards has been undertaken by virtually every branch of the government since the early 1990s. This weakening of underwriting standards had the intended impact of

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Burn before Watching

If you’re the sort of filmgoer who thinks of the Coen brothers as American cinema’s most nihilistic, misanthropic double threat, you’ll find vindication aplenty in Burn after ...

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