Barry Ritholtz is a financial adviser -- one of a handful of commentators during the Lil' Boots Bush, YAAAH-hoo! Illusion IS Reality; YAAAH-hoo!, era who consistently warned of an eventual Day Of Reckoning.
His blog is The Big Picture, and he is the author of Bailout Nation, one of the clearest works to date about how the eventual unraveling and massive changes in the world financial structure took place, and why.
Other histories of this Crash will be written in future, and may draw on the benefit of scholarly research -- but Ritholtz's book is the first and benefits from his insight into primary causes, and the effects of decades of financial irresponsibility. It's written without cant or an axe to grind; he states clearly who made which decisions, and when, making our present situation all but inevitable.
From his book, Ritholtz recently posted a list of The Bad Guys -- those responsible for where we are now, which I thought I'd share:
1. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan
2. The Federal Reserve (in its role of setting monetary policy)
3. Senator Phil Gramm
4-6. Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings (rating agencies)
7. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
8-9. Mortgage originators and lending banks
11. The Federal Reserve again (in its role as bank regulator)
12. Borrowers and home buyers
13-17. The five biggest Wall Street firms (Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch,Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs) and their CEOs
18. President George W. Bush
19. President Bill Clinton
20. President Ronald Reagan
21-22. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson
23-24. Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers
25. FOMC Chief Ben Bernanke
26. Mortgage brokers
27. Appraisers (the dishonest ones)
28. Collateralized debt obligation (CDO) managers (who produced the junk)
29. Institutional investors (pensions, insurance firms, banks, etc.) for buying the junk
30-31. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC); Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS)
32. State regulatory agencies
33. Structured investment vehicles (SIVs)/hedge funds for buying the junk
... God bless 'em (or god something 'em), every one.