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ONE afternoon in November 2006, a policeman spotted an expired license plate on Dorothy Thomas’s 10-year-old Toyota Corolla as she drove through San Jose, Calif. He ordered her to pull over.
Struggling under the weight of thousands of dollars in credit card bills, Ms. Thomas was perpetually short of cash. She had not bought a $10 auto registration sticker. The officer checked his database and recognized that she had already been ticketed once before for the same thing. He arranged to have her car towed away.
“I got down on my knees and begged that officer,” Ms. Thomas recalled.
As she watched her car being hauled off, she sensed that this was the beginning of a descent into a crisis from which she might not easily escape. Without money to pay the towing and storage fees, she could not extract her car from the lot, and the tab soon grew to $1,600. Without a car, she could not reach the hospital where she worked in the administrative offices, so she lost her $16-an-hour job. Without a paycheck, she could no longer pay the rent on her modest home. She moved to Oakland, where a friend lived in a beaten-down, rented house on a street they called Crack Avenue. By year’s end, Ms. Thomas, then 49, was occupying a bunk at a homeless shelter, searching in vain for a job in an economy plagued by unemployment.
Across the United States a sense has taken hold that the Great Recession and the financial crisis are predominantly a result of national profligacy, as if the economy had been undone by insatiable shoppers, foolhardy home buyers and greedy investment bankers. Extravagance and recklessness certainly played crucial roles, and yet they are only part of the explanation…
"An authoritative account of events leading up to the current recession… A must-read.” -Kirkus Reviews
“The delightful motif that enlivens Peter S. Goodman’s otherwise sobering new book on economic delusion suggests that we’ve been living in Neverland. The fairy dust of easy money—heedless borrowing by homeowners and investment bankers alive—has lost its magic, and now we have returned to harsh reality… Goodman, a fair-minded reporter and a clear writer, demonstrates how both Bernanke and Summers, along with most other major economists and Wall Street plutocrats of the past two decades, became entranced by the Greenspan-Chicago School notion that financial institutions can be trusted to police one another in the absence of rigorous government oversight… Drawing on his experience covering the technology industry as well as broader economic trends, Goodman performs a tremendous service by showing how the context of market manias changes but the essential content remains the same.” -New York Times Book Review
“Peter S. Goodman is a reporter with a valuable thesis, reams of anecdotes and a habit of being in the right place at the right time. He puts these assets to work in a persuasive book on all-too-familiar topic.” -Bloomberg News
“Peter S. Goodman brings a journalist’s savviness and skepticism to the stories of the people affected by the current economic crisis. Based on more than a decade of reporting in the United States and around the world, PAST DUE is a compelling and insightful read from one of the best economic correspondents in the country.” -Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz, author of Making Globalization Work
“Peter Goodman has written a gripping tale of the current financial crisis and severe recession. He weaves together stories of individuals swept by the financial tsunami—who have lost jobs, homes, incomes, and wealth—with a broader analysis of the economic and financial excesses that led to the crisis.” -Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics, Stern School of Business, New York University
“Peter S. Goodman is a reporter’s reporter—relentless, skeptical, fair, energetic, and eager to see things for himself. His instinct for the big story carried him for a decade through the landscape of our current economic crisis—the Internet bubble of Silicon Valley, China’s roaring but unbalanced economy, and the upended American heartland. PAST DUE is a timely, deepy reported and clarifying book.” -Steve Coll, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Ghost Wars
“In PAST DUE, Peter Goodman displays a fine grasp of the big picture, but as few others can do, he illustrates it with dozens and dozens of personal stories of ordinary people who were caught in the fake economic upsurge of the 2000s, and who are now drowning in its backwash. He still manages to end on a hopeful note, pointing to potentially promising paths to a longer-term recovery.” -Charles R. Morris, author of The Trillion Dollar Meltdown
“America’s economic crisis has prompted much hand-wringing and recrimination but few clear-eyed, accessible examinations of the underlying problems. Goodman’s persuasive new book is such an examination—and a captivating story to boot. It should be read by everyone who wants to know what went wrong with our economy, how the reckoning has affected our companies and our workers, and how we can get our country back on track.” -Jacob S. Hacker, professor of political science, Yale University, and author of The Great Risk Shift