I'm looking to learn more in detail about the situations and actions that setup the sub-prime mortgage crisis. In particular I'm looking for an authoritative book or books that provides a multifaceted approach such as

  1. overview of the tools that were used (such as mortgage backed securities (MBS), collateralized debt obligations (CDO)).
  2. Role of investment banks and predatory lending techniques.
  3. Role of derivatives of the securities.
  4. Role of government regulations and government entities (Fannie mae freedie mac).
  5. Role of crediting agencies such as Moodys S&P
  6. Role of regulators (SEC) and how they failed to see the bubble.
  7. Role of federal reserve.
  8. What were the economic indicators that were picked up by people who saw the bubble early on?

I would appreciate if someone could tell me about books that provide a generic overview and books that go into great depth


2 Answers 2


Trying to think of what's on my bookshelf... this is an incomplete list, but it should get you started.

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report is the authoritative overview of the housing crisis and its role in the financial crisis. It's unique in that the staff of the FCIC was able to interview essentially all the major players and had access to documents that were (and many of which still are) unavailable to the public. It's also free.

The American Mortgage System: Crisis and Reform by Susan Wachter (editor) is a collection of essays that provide a good overview of many of the main issues.

For a lighter read, All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera is good, but flawed.

On Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, I'd recommend Guaranteed to Fail: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Debacle of Mortgage Finance by Acharya, et. al.

House of Debt (Mian and Sufi) isn't bad on some of the causality, but I find that it goes a bit off the rails when it comes to policy prescriptions.


"House of Debt" by Atif Mian is an interesting read on these issues.


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