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Living in a Bubble: How Speculative Mania in Home Mortgages Underwrote the Great Recession

Roger Lowenstein

May 05, 2010

"The bubble began at the dawn of the 21st century, and fed off the elixir of ultra-low interest rates. Low rates had been orchestrated by the Fed chairman, Alan Greenspan, with the steadfast support of his then-fellow Fed governor, Ben Bernanke. With credit cheap, Americans flocked to refinance their homes and to bid up the prices of new ones. This much was predictable. But the mortgage boom of the early 2000s was unlike others. A wave of unorthodox lenders sought to lure customers whose credit was judged to be less than prime—that is, subprime. These eager lenders were hailed as suburban Johnny Appleseeds, planting a mortgage in every backyard. Instead of a mere boom, they incited a social upheaval, much as did the dot.com promoters a decade earlier."

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