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Greed destroyed us all: George W. Bush and the real story of the Great Recession

If financial crises came with their own nicknames, the subprime meltdown surely would have earned the sobriquet “worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.” That mantra has been chanted over and over again, not only by leading academics and media pundits, but at the highest levels of policy making. When President Barack Obama selected Christina Romer, an economic historian from the University of California, Berkeley, as chair of his Council of Economic Advisors, some carped that the president should have selected an economist with a deeper background in policy rather than in economic history. When Romer herself later asked President Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel why she got the job, Emmanuel answered: “You’re an expert on the Great Depression, and we really thought we might need one.” Given how close the subprime crisis came to economic Armageddon, it is important to understand the series of policy mistakes behind it.

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