Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Off the top of my head, here’s a list of the various things people have blamed for last year’s economic meltdown:

1. Housing bubble
2. Mortgage securitization mania
3. Massive growth of complex credit derivatives
4. Mortgage fraud, growth of NINJA/liar/HELOC/option ARM/etc.
5. Asian savings glut
6. Long-term current account imbalances
7. Ratings agency flimflam
8. 2007-08 oil shock
9. Overuse of leverage on Wall Street
10. Easy money policy from Fed
11. Reliance on bad risk models (VaR, CAPM, etc.) that led to consistent undervaluation of risk
12. Too much debt (both household and financial sector)
13. Government efforts to increase homeownership
14. Repeal of Glass-Steagall

I don’t have any particular agenda here.  I’m just collecting reasons, and obviously there’s quite a bit of overlap on this list already.  But I’m still looking for more!  If I’m missing anything that a significant number of people think had a significant effect, please leave it in comments.

UPDATE: Added from comments:

15. Pay practices that provided incentives for risky behavior
16. Greenspan/Bernanke put (i.e., the widespread belief that the Fed would bail out any big bank that failed)
17. Inadequate regulation of shadow banking sector
18. Poor bank capitalization regulations that allowed too much off-balance-sheet risk

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate