May 28, 2009
The subprime New York Times reporter
"How could a person who wrote about economics for a living fall into the kind of credit card trap that consumer groups had warned about for years?" Because bad decisions, he did make. Hoo boy. Andrews does not stint on the details -- the huge credit card bills, the decision to buy a house and get remarried while still paying hefty alimony bills, the inability to make income and expenses match up. He willingly signed his name on the dotted line of mortgages that made no rational economic sense. And he fully owns up to it. Most Americans do not like to talk about their private finances, but Andrews is fearless. Anyone who has ever fought about money problems with his or her partner will wince at the unflattering portrayal Andrews delivers of his own "first-class prick"-ness. It is not a pretty sight.
"We can't keep racking up debt like this," I told her one night, annoyed that she didn't appear to share my urgency. "Even with your job, we're spending way more than we make every month. If we keep this up, we'll lose the house."
"Aaach, there you go again," Patty snapped. "Why is it that every time you look at a bill you act as if the world were coming to an end? I am doing what I can to make money, and to spend as little as possible. I know better than anyone that we have money problems, but it is not the end of the world. You act as if I'm not taking this seriously unless I get as hysterical as you."
"What the fuck are you talking about? I exploded. "Maybe you don't understand, but this is a simple question of math. We're running deeper into debt every month. It's not as though I'm crazy or that I'm imagining all this."
I'm sorry -- but I'm never going to be able to read another Edmund Andrews-bylined story without thinking of him screaming expletives at his wife, or seething in anger at his own circumstances while covering a White House press conference on housing sector reform. But strangely, what makes this book work is that while "Busted" is on the one hand a classic trashy Americana let-it-all-hang-out mea culpa worthy of Dr. Phil it is also a cogent analysis of how the mortgage lending market got out of control and submarined the U.S. economy.
Posted by Azra Raza at 04:34 AM | Permalink