Sunday, August 26, 2007

Inside the Countrywide Lending Spree

The New York Times is going into detail about the kinds of dodgy business practices that both made Countrywide Financial Corporation the biggest home financier in the USA and ultimately led to everything from credit concerns and market corrections to personal ruin and unpalatable amounts of stress for people around the world.

You know what? This is BORING. How many times have we seen the same thing play out, again and again and again and again? That's right - BORING. In just my own life, I've seen the same basic scenario played out at least five or six times. If you bother to do a bit of research, you can read up on how large-scale deception, manipulation and theft from customers through to entire markets has a glorious tradition going back hundreds, if not thousands of years.

Though such practices have always been a mark of human endeavour, they did not really mushroom into the size, scale and breadth of which we tend to take much note until commodities markets came into existence.

Hence, perhaps the first major scams, I mean bubbles, of which you might want to read, are the tulip bubble and the South Sea Bubble.

Take a walk through Picadilly some time and marvel at the glorious buildings that became what are now some of the major landmarks of the area. All built by such luminaries of their age. All financed by scamming markets and individual investors. All but a few of them once owned by people left virtually unscathed - financially or politically - by the terrible toll they exacted on the economies and investors of their time.

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