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Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk by Satyajit Das

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Prologue: Hubris

Hubris—in Classical Greek tragedy, insolent defiance caused by excessive pride toward the Gods.

Subprime Dialects

“Vhat does a poor American defaulting in Looneyville, West Virginia, have to do with me?” Behind his high-tech, titanium composite glasses with an unlikely red-and-white polka dot design, Doktor Flick’s anxious tone betrays uncharacteristic insecurity. Looneyville, I learned, was a real town. In 2007, U.S. citizens were falling behind in payments on their mortgages in record numbers in Gravity Iowa; Mars, Pennsylvania; Paris, Texas; Venus Texas; Earth, Texas; and Saturn, Texas.

Since 2000, housing prices in the United States had increased dramatically, driven by a combination of low interest rates, a strong and growing ...

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