Half a trillion dollars in subprime mortgage–backed bonds in a single year.
The subprime mortgage market was generating half a trillion dollars’ worth of new loans a year, but the circle of people redistributing the risk that the entire market would collapse was tiny.
But never mind: The rating agencies, who were paid fat fees by Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms for each deal they rated, pronounced 80 percent of the new tower of debt triple-A.
In Bakersfield, California, a Mexican strawberry picker with an income of $14,000 and no English was lent every penny he needed to buy a house for $724,000. The