Cover: The Banks Did It: An Anatomy of the Financial Crisis, from Harvard University PressCover: The Banks Did It in HARDCOVER

The Banks Did It

An Anatomy of the Financial Crisis

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Product Details


$39.95 • £31.95 • €36.00

ISBN 9780674249356

Publication Date: 06/08/2021


336 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

1 photo, 27 illus., 7 tables


Neil Fligstein’s new book reads like a financial crime novel, but with a twist. Instead of asking ‘who done it?’ we are told up front that the banks did it, and the real mystery concerns why they did it, when they did it, and how it produced a global crisis in 2008. Why did U.S. banks become so deeply involved in industrial-scale origination and securitization of home mortgages? Who would loan money to borrowers that almost certainly couldn’t repay? Why didn’t banks change course when it became clear that the bubble was about to burst? Fligstein weaves together a huge amount of evidence as he identifies key turning points, refutes simplistic explanations, and presents a coherent and sophisticated account of an extraordinarily consequential sequence of events.—Bruce G. Carruthers, Northwestern University

Fligstein is the most influential economic sociologist at work today. Hands down. He is also one of the most successful sociological discipline-spanners, with wide influence outside of sociology. This eminently readable book will be of great interest beyond sociology, to historians, political scientists, and economists. The Banks Did It is erudite, carefully researched, and powerfully argued. It does not disappoint.—Frank Dobbin, Harvard University

Well-structured, well-evidenced, attractively written, and based on over a decade of research, The Banks Did It is a brilliant work by a scholar who has reshaped how we should think about markets.—Donald MacKenzie, University of Edinburgh

In this incisive and exceptionally clear book, Neil Fligstein describes how government action unwittingly helped shift the business model of American banks from long-term customer relations towards fee-based activities anchored in mortgage origination and securitization. By the mid-2000s, every part of U.S. financial organizations was oriented to maintaining this pipeline, at the cost of considerable risk-taking and even fraud. By offering a long-term view of the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis, Fligstein shows exactly how the banks, really, ‘did it’—and also lays blame at the feet of monetary experts and authorities, who never saw it coming.—Marion Fourcade, University of California, Berkeley

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