Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America

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9780307952554: Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America

Charles H. Ferguson, who electrified the world with his Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job, now explains how a predator elite took over the country, step by step, and he exposes the networks of academic, financial, and political influence, in all recent administrations, that prepared the predators’ path to conquest. 
     Over the last several decades, the United States has undergone one of the most radical social and economic transformations in its history. 

·         Finance has become America’s dominant industry, while manufacturing, even for high technology industries, has nearly disappeared.

·         The financial sector has become increasingly criminalized, with the widespread fraud that caused the housing bubble going completely unpunished.

·         Federal tax collections as a share of GDP are at their lowest level in sixty years, with the wealthy and highly profitable corporations enjoying the greatest tax reductions.

·         Most shockingly, the United States, so long the beacon of opportunity for the ambitious poor, has become one of the world’s most unequal and unfair societies. 

If you’re smart and a hard worker, but your parents aren’t rich, you’re now better off being born in Munich, Germany or in Singapore than in Cleveland, Ohio or New York.
This radical shift did not happen by accident. 

     Ferguson shows how, since the Reagan administration in the 1980s, both major political parties have become captives of the moneyed elite.  It was the Clinton administration that dismantled the regulatory controls that protected the average citizen from avaricious financiers.  It was the Bush team that destroyed the federal revenue base with its grotesquely skewed tax cuts for the rich. And it is the Obama White House that has allowed financial criminals to continue to operate unchecked, even after supposed “reforms” installed after the collapse of 2008.

     Predator Nation reveals how once-revered figures like Alan Greenspan and Larry Summers became mere courtiers to the elite.  Based on many newly released court filings, it details the extent of the crimes—there is no other word—committed in the frenzied chase for wealth that caused the financial crisis.  And, finally, it lays out a plan of action for how we might take back our country and the American dream.

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Review:

Guest Reviewer: Simon Johnson on Predator Nation by Charles H. Ferguson
Simon Johnson is coauthor of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown and White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters To You.

Predator Nation demolishes the view that the global financial crisis was merely some sort of freak accident. Charles Ferguson makes a convincing case that the world’s banking system was brought to the brink of complete collapse in 2008–09 by a virulent combination of unchecked greed and criminal behavior.

This is an epic crime story with an apparently clean getaway, courtesy of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. Both presidents proved unwilling to hold anyone to account—or even to launch meaningful investigations.

Leading bankers walked away with billions of dollars in unjustified compensation. The costs imposed on the rest of us can be measured in the trillions of dollars.

Predator Nation provides a roadmap for prosecution, systematically covering the banks involved, the names of culpable executives, the obvious crimes, the precise laws broken, and the evidence hiding in plain sight. No doubt it will be widely ignored by our legal officials.

Ferguson’s points are also intensely political. Reckless behavior by bankers can be traced back to the bipartisan consensus around deregulating finance in recent decades. This result is a socially destructive industry with immense political power—and capable of defeating all attempts at meaningful reform. The continued predominance of rogue finance is greatly facilitated by its effective corruption of American academia and many so-called “independent experts” (documented in Charles Ferguson’s Oscar-winning movie, Inside Job.)

Big banks hold American politics in a death grip. To understand this—and to start to think about how to break this grip—read Predator Nation and give a copy to everyone you know.

About the Author:

Charles H. Ferguson won an Oscar in 2011 for Inside Job, his documentary on the financial crisis, and was an Oscar nominee for his first documentary, No End In Sight, on the war in Iraq.  He is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, holds a PhD in Political Science from MIT, and has been a technology policy consultant to the White House and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, as well as to leading technology companies including Apple, IBM, and Texas Instruments.  He was the co-founder of Vermeer Technologies, which invented the web tool Front Page, later sold to Microsoft.  A former visiting scholar at MIT and Berkeley, he has also been a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.  He has written four books, and is a life member of the Council of Foreign Relations and a director of the French-American Foundation.

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