Who are the 25 People Most Responsible For the Financial Crisis?

Time wants to know who you think is most to blame for the current financial fiasco. They have a neat community polling application that lets you rate people by their guilt or innocence. Currently at number one: Phil Gramm, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee from 1995 through 2000. Congratulations, Phil! Or, not.

25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis [Time]


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  1. sir_eccles says:

    Oh I thought it was going to be something lame like “YOU” because weren’t we Time man of the year recently?

    • TechnoDestructo says:


      No, they pretty much managed to work that one in there.

      “American Consumers
      We really enjoyed living beyond our means. No wonder we wanted to believe it would never end. But the bill is due. “

      YES, I FEEL SO GUILTY with my grand total of one month, 10 years ago, spent in debt. I’m sorry, America!

  2. Segador says:

    #15: American people, who signed up for ARMs without reading the contract or caring what was going to happen to their payments in 3 years.

    • kiltman says:

      @Segador: Actually I signed up for an ARM 5 years ago. Last summer I started to look into what I could do about refinancing and it was suggested that I wait till my mortgage holder sends my letter telling me what my new rate is. Ubelievably, my rate dropped from 5.25 to 3.78. Don’t know how, don’t know why, but I will take it and run! Till next year when it resets again.

      • HIV 2 Elway says:

        @kiltman: Nothing wrong with ARM’s if you fully understand the terms.

        • ScottRose says:

          @HIV 2 Elway Resurrected:

          Nothing wrong with ARM’s if you fully understand the terms.

          I just bought a house, read all about ARMs, and still wouldn’t touch one with someone else’s 10ft. finance-pole. The terms are basically: “A few years from now, your rate will be IndexValue + X, where X is a known quantity and IndexValue is completely unknown”. ARMs mitigate the banks’ risk and place that risk on the borrowers.

          That sounds bad no matter how much you research you do.

          The only way for a borrower to mitigate their risk with an ARM is to save their money when the interest rates adjust lower so that they can then pay that money to the bank when the interest rates are up. If someone did that properly, the net effect would be that they were paying the same monthly amount — sometimes to a savings account + the bank, and other times just to the bank. Hmm.. Fixed monthly payments? Sounds like a fixed rate mortgage. (Unless the interest rates go way up beyond their savings, in which case they’re screwed).

          I went with the 30yr. fixed, BTW. My payments are only gonna go down from today onwards (adjusting for average inflation over 30yrs., that is).

      • larrymac808 says:

        @kiltman: Just a little unsolicited advice – if your loan allows it, make extra principle payments while the rate is low. e.g. just keep sending the same amount you did while the rate was 5.25, or send even more if you can afford it. Since you’re relatively early in the loan, anything you can do to put more toward principle will increase your equity, shorten your term, and save money over the long haul.

      • weave says:

        @kiltman: My ARM is currently sitting at 3.75. It’s been below market rates since shortly after I got it in 2000. I realize it’s a gamble, like many financial decisions, but right now I’m sitting on a sure thing while my principal is at its highest, and later if it does go up and I’m stuck not being able to refinance for some reason, I’m paying higher interest on less principal.

        The increase cap is 2% a year and the max cap is 12%. When I went into it I made sure that worst case I could afford the payments at the max rate if needed.

    • picardia says:

      @Segador: As far as I’m concerned, each of those people only dug his or her own grave. It was the companies who offered those things to people with no proof of income who turned their problem into everyone’s problem.

      • failurate says:

        @picardia: Grave digger with an Aston Martin!
        They all made super extra $$$. So, we are all worried about getting shit-canned they are sitting on top of $500 million personal dollars.
        They didn’t dig a grave, they accomplished what they were after… super-duper personal wealth.

  3. chuloallen says:

    well seems like im not the only one that thinks “we the people” should be to blame too.

    but then.. its never our fault.. those evil people… rich evil people..

    • orlo says:

      @chuloallen: When the financial system is mismanaged it is in fact the overlords of that system who are to blame. Most people are evil, but the evil of rich people is much more potent.

  4. HIV 2 Elway says:

    I think they forgot to put some of the blame on incompetent federal regulators. Many of the smaller local banks that are now struggling were/are owned but real estate developers. Regulators should have seen that inherent conflict of interest and intervened.

  5. edebaby says:

    There’s only two words I can think of now that I looked through the list; Cock Suckers

  6. shifuimam says:

    I blame 90% of it on the American public. If the demand for crap like homes and cars you can’t afford didn’t exist, companies wouldn’t facilitate it. It’s your own damn fault and nobody else’s for the decisions you’ve made that have completely screwed you over.

    Oh, and I blame Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton for the subprime mortgage meltdown, which seems to have been a huge catalyst in this whole situation.

    • ARP says:

      @shifuimam: You’ve got to be kidding, right? Just two D’s 12 years apart? OK one more time, because I know this is going to show up over and over: The laws that Carter passed DID NOT FORCE BANKS TO LEND TO PEOPLE WHO COULD NOT AFFORD IT. They said you can’t discriminate just because of where you live (i.e. can’t reject a loan because the house is in a minority neighborhood). So black family and white family making same money but living in different hoods’ should be treated the same.

      Clinton- actually shares some of the blame. He did help deregulate some of the financial services industry that helped cause this (GLB in particular).

      But if we’re throwing around blame, here are a few others:

      Bush II- who pushed home ownership; further deregulated or failed to enforce; tried to prop up economy by lowering interest rates to nothing; borrowed huge amounts of money to pay for tax cuts.

      Banks- gave money to anyone who asked for it, no questions asked. Didn’t even consider the number of toxic assets they had. Intentionally merged to become “fail-proof.” Even after getting TARP funds, have not lent money (even to those who would qualify). Continue to pay themselves handsomely.

      • HIV 2 Elway says:

        @ARP: The lack of regulation wasn’t/isn’t the issue. Its that existing regulators sit on their hands and do nothing. Further regulation does nothing when existing regulations aren’t enforced.

        • ARP says:

          @HIV 2 Elway Resurrected: I agree. There are laws on the books that would have mitigated (probably not stopped) this. Bush was the master of not enforcing laws/regs or taking extreme interpretations of them to justify his ideology. (See: only organ failure pain constitutes torture, can ignore all laws dealing with military as commander in chief, passed zero OSHA regs and repealed many, starved consumer products saftey orgs, etc.)

          • HIV 2 Elway says:

            @ARP: Bush has very little influence on the day to day activities of banking regulators. Every bank merger (and if you look at the trends there are fewer and fewer banks each year, so they are merging) needs to be approved by the FDIC, every single one. Many mergers should have raised huge red flags but were approved by the FDIC.

            Not to mention, when regulators finally do step in they do nothing but further cripple the already struggling bank.

            • mac-phisto says:

              @HIV 2 Elway Resurrected: that’s not entirely accurate. the administration picks the leaders of the agencies charged with regulation (& they, in turn, take their pick of SES personnel). regulators take their orders from above – just like the military. if your boss tells you to focus on this & ignore that, it’s what you do.

              now, certainly there seems to be a wealth of ineptitude in the departments that are responsible for regulating financial services, but my point is that this could be by design (think for a moment on the fiasco that occurred within the justice department in 2006 with the questionable firing of u.s. attorneys).

              that said, you’re right – bush didn’t hold examiners’ hands while they reviewed bank books. but it’s certainly plausible that recommendations from the bottom were ignored by officials at the top – it happens.

              there’s plenty of people we could line up in front of the firing squad for their hand in this, though. me? i’m going to put hugh mccoll (the man who brought the “wealth by acquisition” mentality to banking today) on the top of my list.

    • courtarro says:

      @shifuimam: Can you be more specific about Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton?

      I blame Queen Elizabeth II.

    • Laines says:

      @shifuimam: Oh, and I blame Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton for the subprime mortgage meltdown, which seems to have been a huge catalyst in this whole situation.

      I can see you typing but all I hear is Rush Limbaugh talking.

      • ScottRose says:


        +1. Though he forgot to blame Obama somehow.

        • dragonfire81 says:

          @ScottRose: You know I NOT apathetic to politics, I follow them rather closely, but it just pisses me off to no end that politics are not about the people anymore.

          They are about a continual cyclical relationship between politicians and the businesses who finance them. What do you notice about all these stimulus packages and bailouts? They seem to be more about helping out American businesses (Auto, banks, etc) but not the American PEOPLE.

          Mortgages are still being defaulted on, layoffs are accelerating, the amount of uninsured people (health insurance I mean) is increasing, people are getting more desperate to try to make ends meet.

          Yeah all that bailout money really helped the situation didn’t it?

          Also, does Karl Rove deserve any of the blame?

    • Ben King says:

      @shifuimam: Your hyperbole is showing.

    • Snarkysnake says:


      “I blame Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton for the subprime mortgage meltdown”

      Ha Ha. That’s a good one.
      Only two things wrong with your theory:
      1) Ronald Reagan or GWB could have pressed for a repeal of the CRA if it was such a bad law.They could have warned everyone how it would blow up and wreck the economy. They were too busy borrowing trillions of dollars from foreigners to notice.

      2) It’s full of shit.

      Again,I am calling all of you Rush/Sean/Neal/Local wannabe zombies out. One day,when someone knocks some sense into you silly bastards,you will realize that the CRA is not the cause of the motrgage problem in this country. The problem is split between people that have no grasp of the way a mortgage really works and don’t care to learn , and mortgage originators that made their money by getting the mortgage approved and funded before the shit storm hit. Even as I type this,those people are reading it on their laptop that they brought to the beach and chuckling about how stupid the taxpayers are for bailing them out. (Hi guys !)

      Now. Just like any large disaster,there are some peripheral players. Barney Frank ? Yeah,he’s an asshole that helped the party along. Fannie ? Freddie ? Political snake pits that made the mess a giant one,no question.But again, everybody ,Democrat or Republican,thoght that things were just fine as long as it served their political ends.Now that it’s gone boom, these ignoramuses on the radio (which I love listening to,BTW) are telling people like you to tell people like me that its the Democrats fault for prohibiting discrimination against people that might not vote the way that they prefer.

      I don’t care who you vote for. I don’t care who you listen to. Just think for yourself.

      • buckfutt says:


        Fannie and Freddie are the root causes behind this whole mess. They encouraged banks to make crappy loans to people who couldn’t afford them, and enabled untold trillions of those loans by buying them up. It was no secret that both were out of control, but few of the politicians wanted to hear it; they were more interested in buying votes.

      • cowholio4 says:


        I agree that all the past few administrations are to blame. Honestly, the citizens of America are so apathetic to politics. And the youth care more about “The Real World” and are actually pretty blind to the real world. Unfortunately, prosperity does not necessarily create good character.

        Who else is going to respond to all these unwise decisions? How could the previous generation read articles like, [query.nytimes.com] , and not respond.

        Unfortunately, all the unwise decisions of our rulers will come to fruition sooner or later and quite frankly that scares me. We are now feeling the sting of this housing problem. What about when we feel the sting of our national debt? The outright shortsightedness of the government and the people of America is really ridiculous.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Where’s Barney Frank? Also, it wasn’t just deregulation that got us in this mess, it was forced regulation. Mr. Frank and his cronies are responsible for those bad housing loans. They made sure that people who couldn’t afford them got them. The banks that didn’t give them were chastised until they weren’t able to do any business.

    • Decius says:

      He isn’t there because the idea pushed from the right that the poor, poor banks were somehow forced to make billions – nay, trillions – of dollars by selling mortgages without securities (and selling that risk again to others) isn’t something anyone takes serious for good reason.

    • FoxCMK says:

      Just what I came in to post.

      Bawney Fwank should be on this list…but then, this is TIME magazine. Its irrelevance is matched only by its incompetence.

      • thezone says:

        @cmkennedy: I’m really tired of this. People keep blaming the CRA for this. But what you forget is that 80% of the loans were not from Depositors and thus were not covered under this legislation. Here is a quote from Michael Barr from U of M gave testimony to congress. He said

        “Despite the fact that CRA appears to have increased bank and thrift lending in low- and moderate-income communities, such institutions are not the only ones operating in these areas. In fact, with new and lower-cost sources of funding available from the secondary market through securitization, and with advances in financial technology, subprime lending exploded in the late 1990s, reaching over $600 billion and 20% of all originations by 2005. More than half of subprime loans were made by independent mortgage companies not subject to comprehensive federal supervision; another 30 percent of such originations were made by affiliates of banks or thrifts, which are not subject to routine examination or supervision, and the remaining 20 percent were made by banks and thrifts. ” Sorry the link to the testimony is broken.

        The president of the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco said

        “There has been a tendency to conflate the current problems in the subprime market with CRA-motivated lending, or with lending to low-income families in general. I believe it is very important to make a distinction between the two. Most of the loans made by depository institutions examined under the CRA have not been higher-priced loans, and studies have shown that the CRA has increased the volume of responsible lending to low- and moderate-income households. We should not view the current foreclosure trends as justification to abandon the goal of expanding access to credit among low-income households, since access to credit, and the subsequent ability to buy a home, remains one of the most important mechanisms we have to help low-income families build wealth over the long term.” [www.frbsf.org]

        What this shows was most of the problems were with non-traditional banks making loans and then selling those loans as investments. Thus they washed their hands of any of the risk.

        • chauncy that billups says:

          @thezone: cmkennedy didn’t say anything about CRA. I blame Barney Frank, because in 2005 he led the charge (along with Maxine Waters and others) to obfuscate the serious problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He basically said there was no crisis at Fannie or Freddie. Regardless of the CRA, those two GSE’s ARE two of the Prime reasons for the meltdown. Why did he do this? Because the team that was calling for an investigation was led by John McCain. Barney Frank was using partisan politics to protect his self interest, to the country’s destruction.

          • Trai_Dep says:

            @bilups: You really need to reread thezone’s comment, more slowly this time, since it demolishes the points you’re trying to make.

          • thezone says:

            @bilups: That’s funny since Frank helped draft the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2005 which was looking to replace the outdated oversight of Fannie and Freddie. He only started going against the act when additional language was added to the bill that would have hurt certain not for profits.

    • Cattivella says:

      @PascalCoronis: Seriously. Barny Frank should be in the top 5 on this list. I can’t believe he’s not included. He must have some seriously good PR people.

  8. lodleader says:

    congrats Time on missing half of the true people who really boned us.

    And yes the American public for being stupid enough to think “you mean 0% now and ?% later, sign me up!”

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      @lodleader: Yeah, but at least they aren’t pointing at just one person like so many other articles have. The probleme was created by a number of factors, not just one thing. The people who took the loans who didn’t understand what they meant are part of it but, some did understand it and then couldn’t refinance later.

    • ARP says:

      @lodleader: They’re in there. The American consumer. The really f*cked up thing about our economy is that if those people didn’t shop with money they didn’t have, we might be in the same situation. Our economy is based so much on consumer spending that when people are financially responsible, it a bad thing. Messed up.

  9. Bladefist says:

    Pretty good article. Mostly correct. I didn’t see Barney Frank and some of the others who laughed at the Fannie/Freddie regulators.

    Blaming the guy who works for HGTV for flipping houses shows? Are you serious? lol.

    • fs2k2isfun says:

      @Bladefist: I second Barney Frank, he deserves more of the blame than the majority of people on the list in my opinion.

    • ARP says:

      @Bladefist: You know, I laughed at that too at first. I don’t blame him, but I think he’s a symbol of the times. EVERYONE was talking about real estate: Bush, banks, ads, neighboors, TV shows, etc. It was sold to us as the fool-proof investment. You have to admit the amount of attention on real estate was striking. That doesn’t mean you can throw common sense out the window, but there was a certain herd mentality. I have a strange rule of investing, when my small town aunt is talking about how X is going to be the next big investment, I know that investment bubble is going to burst.

    • battra92 says:

      @Bladefist: I put studduhwing Bawny in the top ten of this list. But oh wait, you can’t point out anything he does as bad because that would be offensive.

      I still blame the American consumer and borrower more than any fatcat banker, though.

    • KyleOrton says:

      @Bladefist: I completely agree with that one. I think the US consumer should be higher on the list and those shows contributed to the house mania. I would also like to see the NAR listed along with Lawrence Yun, its economist/cheerleader.

  10. Nytmare says:

    @Segador: Yes, borrowers should have been smarter when the mortgage expert told them they could simply refinance once the rate adjusted upward. Smarter than the expert.

    • Real Cheese Flavor says:

      @nytmare: Oh God, this.

      I had a friend pressuring me and pressuring me to buy a home because she bought into that whole “you’re not a human being unless you own a house” mentality that’s been thrown at us for years.

      She went on to tell me how great the housing market was and that there were these “new” mortgages out there that would let me buy a fantastic house, live in it for three years, and then resell it for XBOX HUEG PROFFIT. And oh yeah, the payments are less than what you’re paying for rent right now and that I’m an idiot for not getting in on this.

      After looking at the terms closely, I realized I’d be fucked six ways to Sunday if after three years I was unable to sell the damned house and I ran the hell away and never looked back.

      • Segador says:

        @Real Cheese Flavor: If you’re wondering how I know that idiot consumers who signed idiot ARMs share a large portion of the blame, it’s because I was one of those idiot consumers. I bought a house 4 years ago on a ridiculous ARM, and lost the house. I’ve been there, done that, and educated myself so it never happens again.

      • warf0x0r says:

        @Real Cheese Flavor: XBOX HUEG PROFFIT, I love it!


        To many people out there running around saying “This is awesome buy house!” Everyone else is saying, “Can you explain this to me!”

        “No, just buy houses!!!”

    • TideGuy says:


      “mortgage expert” = salesman

      I don’t see why people don’t understand that

  11. sleze69 says:

    Can someone just list the people here so I don’t have to go through the lagging slideshow?

    • Zeniq says:

      @sleze69: At the bottom of the first page of the slide show there is a link to a page that contains the entire 25 people rather than just the top few.

  12. mookiemookie says:

    Bernie Maddoff? Sure, he’s a piece of excrement, but did he *cause* the financial crisis?

    Wen Jiabao? “We’d be fine if you’d stop buying all our debt!”

    This list is silly.

  13. bohemian says:

    I would put people who pushed deregulation like Gramm high on the list. They changed the rules allowing it to happen. Just remember that Bush was seriously pushing home ownership when he first took office.
    I also blame all of these major banks who were so greedy they ignored looking at the long term. All they knew was there were more foreign investors wanting something to invest in so they created this mess to sell them shares of.

    Our conservative govt. bears a large portion of the blame. No the American people are not the first to blame on this. Many people did not fall for the scammy loans or buy tons of crap they didn’t need. I do blame those that did for being too stupid to determine they were being sold something. Some people just assumed if some tool in a suit told them something was a good investment or you had to have “x” to be someone that it was true. Time to push these people to think for themselves a bit more.

  14. ADismalScience says:

    Can I just say that I hate this outcropping of “blame these guys” stories? In reading the article, there’s very little information to establish cause and effect. For example, they have a regulator on there who pioneered mortgage securitization. Can you draw a straight line between that and the housing crisis? I can’t, not even close, and I’ve got first-hand knowledge of most of this stuff. The whole article reads like “Here are some talking points! Hate these people!” That’s some crappy journalism as far as I’m concerned, and it inevitably creates a populace that just isn’t well-informed with respect to the “mortgage crisis.” If people don’t fully understand the causes of financial bubbles (particularly this one), they won’t understand the regulatory/policy response. The fourth estate can’t seem to avoid collapsing lately.

    • Laines says:

      @ADismalScience: So the problem that irritates you most here is the journalism?

    • HIV 2 Elway says:

      @ADismalScience: Internet lists in general are crappy journalism.

    • ARP says:

      @ADismalScience: In short there is not a single cause of the melt-down. It was a number of actors over a number of years that caused it. No single actor was the cause. So no straight lines are possible. That said, we’d have a lot of criminals roaming the street if we could only use direct evidence.

      But I think what you’re saying is part of the problem: people like bumper sticker solutions to problems that are hugely complex (blame Bush, blame Clinton, cut taxes, etc.). The reality is that the causes are often complex and so the solutions sometimes must be complex. But the American attention span and desire to focus on something to hate/blame for their problems prevents serious discussion of the issues.

      • ADismalScience says:


        That’s what I’ve been saying. It’s been distilled to “blame these guys” so often recently, like this isn’t a complicated issue with hundreds of learned men producing conflicting analyses.

        So when Barack Obama (or whoever is President, I’m not singling him out) comes on the TV with “We need to do this now” the public doesn’t have the information to dispute the claim. This method of reporting on the crisis creates a lot of blind trust and blind hate. In reality, every last American needs to understand how mortgages and debt work.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @ADismalScience: wholeheartedly agree. still, it was worth it just to see the “mug shots”. whoever picked out those pictures…man, what an awesome job.

    • NotChoinski says:

      @ADismalScience: I think the only reason the ‘article’ was ‘written’ was to inflate internet click through. Oh yeah, and blame that guy who produced Flip This House

  15. lowercase says:

    I think the Realtor industry is getting off far too easy in all this. I liked my Realtor ok when I bought my house, but he certainly never said “you know, there’s a more affordable neighborhood down the street that you might like.”

    If a car salesman manipulates someone into a car they can’t afford just so he can score a fat commission, I think most people here would say he shares some of the blame. Realtors do the exact same thing and are getting off scott free? I don’t get it. They preyed on the emotion of a new house and, to a certain extent, the greed, driving those market values up, up, up.

    I agree that most of the fault still lies with the people who’s signature is on the dotted line, but if we’re blaming mortgage brokers, the realtors who walk hand-in-hand with them deserve a piece of the blame too.

    • HIV 2 Elway says:

      @lowercase: Realtors have little incentive to sell you a more expensive home. Their increased commission on a $50k increase in purchase price is only $1500, and even that gets divvied up. Their incentive is to get you to buy ANY house as quickly as they can so they can move on to the next client.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @HIV 2 Elway Resurrected: Yeah, because dangling several “free” bundles of $1,500K to a salesman to push a sale disadvantageous to the customer is a really bad disincentive. :)

      • mac-phisto says:

        @HIV 2 Elway Resurrected: you know what always bothers me about realtors though? the following (R=realtor, B=buyer):
        R: what’s your price range?
        B: well, i was pre-approved by my mortgage company for $150,000.
        R: oooh, geez…well, that’s a good starting point for the area you want to look in. check out this beautiful property on the market for $289,000.
        B: that’s out of my price range.
        R: oook, well how about this one for $269,000.
        B: that’s out of my price range.
        R: oook, well here’s one for $249,000.
        B: ARE YOU &%$#*#(@ DEAF OR JUST A %*&^@(#$, $*%&$#*, $&#*@@($, $*#&$$@@ IDIOT!!?!!??

        then there’s the “scary upsell” – you show the buyer an extremely overpriced “handyman’s special” that’s in their price range to scare them into thinking they have to pay significantly more for a well-kept property.

        but overall, yes i agree with you – the incentive for the realtor is to turn-over the transaction as quickly as possible to maximize their commission potential. selling 2 $200,000 homes in a month is > taking to months to sell 1 $250,000 home.

  16. JustThatGuy3 says:

    How could Barney Frank not be on this list?

    • cmdrsass says:

      @JustThatGuy3: It’s Time magazine, what do you expect?

    • ARP says:

      @JustThatGuy3: I agree that Barney Frank should be on the list. I also view Barney Frank’s failure as part of the problem in Washington- hyper-partisanship. Barney viewed any attempt to regulate Fannie as Republicans trying to gut that system and screw over people who might need some help getting into their first home. Similarly, Republicans viewed any government regulation and/or spending on the stimulus as communism and opposed it. This attitude of giving an inch means I lost causes a lot of the troubles we’ve had.

      • t-r0y says:

        @ARP: Right on! Barney should be at the TOP of the list!

        • ARP says:

          @t-r0y: I don’t think you understand my point. Barney served no greater or lesser role than the people on the list (and others). My argument was that ideology and not giving an inch is the problem FOR BOTH PARTIES.

  17. econobiker says:

    Chris Cox and Alan Green Span top my list. I heard the NPR story on Chris Cox at the end of last year and it was chilling…

    Sad thing about the Time list is that all of those creeps are cashed out- they have made their money and walked away or are retired from the government with a government pension and free health care for the rest of their lives- on our taxes.

  18. savdavid says:

    Dubya should be NUMBER 1, no doubt. He, of all people, had more power to do something but did nothing but help the disaster along and give the treasury away.

    • ARP says:

      @savdavid: I blame Bush for a lot of stuff (and actually believes he deserves it), but I don’t know that he’s No. 1 here. I view his role more as failing to mitigate rather than actively encouraging it to happen. He was asleep at the switch, but didn’t put the trains in motion.

      • Cattivella says:

        @ARP: But he wasn’t asleep at the switch. He called for oversight over Freddie and Fannie many, many times. The senate Dems led by Barney Frank insisted that there was nothing wrong with either of them.

        The kneejerk reaction of “blame Bush for everything – even sleeping” doesn’t work.

        • ARP says:

          @Cattivella: I’m tired of all this Fannie/Freddie blame as the only culprit. How many loans in default are Fannie/Freddie backed? Fannie/Freddie can be a complete clusterf*ck, but if their loans are only a small percentage of the ones in default, then they’re not the only ones to blame.

    • craptastico says:

      @savdavid: Bush’s biggest fault was trying to get poor people into homes. Wrong yes as they can’t afford it, but at least it was well intentioned.

    • cowholio4 says:



      Read that article, written in 1999. Bush is not the sole culprit.

    • battra92 says:

      @savdavid: From now on I blame Obama for every ill. I figure two can play at that game.

    • t-r0y says:

      @savdavid: Actually it was the Clinton Administration that made this move.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @t-r0y: Clinton was staring down a veto-proof majority (GOP-held Congress, remember?), so voting “no” would have had no impact.

  19. Nyses says:

    Are we all forgetting the “interesting” Securities that Wall Street cooked up, things like Credit Default Swaps, that allowed banks to leverage themselved 10 to 1 and more?

    That was like building a house of cards in a wind storm, just one failure and everything goes, since it is ALL overleveraged. But, wait that would never happen, right? Lehman Brothers?

    Yes the American public does share some of the blame, but with CEO’s taking milti-million yearly “performance Bonuses” regardless of performance, what kind of an example is the average American given?

    • quail says:

      @Nyses: Credit default swaps were the thing that allowed the mortgage fiasco to spread into otherwise healthy businesses. I’ll bet there are a bunch of people who wished they never got into the leverage game with their core businesses.

    • PunditGuy says:

      @Nyses: 10 to 1? That would be a good risk compared to what was going on. I could swear I read something about 34 to 1.

      This is the fact that Carter-blaming people don’t get (besides the fact that financial institutions should not be able to brazenly discriminate based on race, but that’s another issue) — people defaulting on their mortgages didn’t cause the economy to collapse. If the financial gurus hadn’t invented all of these complicated derivatives based on mortgage loans, a lot of people would have still lost their houses but there wouldn’t have been the widespread chaos and financial losses. Mortgage originators would have found themselves suddenly owning a lot of low-value real estate, and that’s it.

    • BlazerUnit says:

      @Nyses: And Gramm-Leach-Bailey is the 1999 piece of legislation that let the banks (commerical and investment ones playing with CDOs & ARM mortgages) merge with insurance companies (the ones playing with credit swaps), fully exposing American credit companies to the unregulated toxicity in both.

      Complicating matters is the fact it was voted for by Democratic Congresspersons and signed into law by President Clinton, who Republicans insisted upon painting as some super-left villain–except when he was enabling the business interests of pro-business conservatives.

      Regardless of your politics, there is no way any reasonable person cannot connect our financial crisis mostly to Wall Street greed. They’ve proven that they can’t be trusted to do whats best for the country–these people should be fired, tarred, and feathered. And we should put in place every regulation necessary to ensure our economy isn’t manipulated like this again. Put the power back into the hands of CONSUMERISTS!

  20. buckfutt says:

    No mention of Barney “There’s nothing wrong with Fannie Mae” Frank or Chris “Sweetheart deal with Countrywide” Dodd?

    Useless list.

    • ARP says:

      @buckfutt: On the Dodd part- I don’t know his specific voting record, so what did Dodd do other than get a better deal than most on a mortgage. Did he vote to not regulate something? That would be Bush’s purview. Serious qustion. I admit, it doesn’t look good, but what did he vote for that would have contributed to this?

  21. laserjobs says:

    Nobody needs to blame anyone else but the FEDERAL RESERVE and CENTRAL BANKING. Blowing serial bubbles has killed the world economy.

  22. chrisjames says:

    Some of these are kooky:

    David Lereah. I don’t know if people really took this guy serious, but even the unsophisticated could identify that an NAR member (chief economist no less) is not fit to be advising on buying into the housing market. Did you know Cash4Gold really works, too?

    Lew Ranieri. Might as well blame whoever came up with the idea to lend money to people.

    Fred Goodwin. Greedy, yes. But, it looks like everyday corporate greed that’s existed since the beginning of corporate-mania, just colored red by the financiopocalyse.

    Madoff? This is less comprehensive review and more name-drop now. Similar to Goodwin, Madoff was just a criminal whose crime was exposed by the meltdown, not caused, causing, or otherwise causally linked to it.

    The American Consumer. A record on blaming the consumer: not the first post, not the linking article, but the linked article itself.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @chrisjames: good points. i was thinking the same thing as i clicked thru. i don’t see how the people who invented securitization, ARMs or hedge funds 30 years ago are responsible for the bastardization of those tools today. they’re solid principles, so long as they’re managed properly.

      you want to make a “real” list, how about we start finding out what ignoramus thought it would be a good idea to bundle a buttload of bad loans together & call it grade-AAA prime cut.

  23. WBrink says:

    This came up during a conversation yesterday, but I found out a friend’s dad YEARS AGO was an executive at Countrywide and then CEO or Chairman of IndyMac. He’s retired now, but that would have to be some ridiculous resume if being vetted for a position at a financial firm haha

  24. t-r0y says:

    Many players, but at the root: The Federal Reserve.

  25. cowholio4 says:

    What about the fact that this housing meltdown was all but expected? Seriously I don’t understand how everyone blindly thought housing prices would always increase. Anyways I don’t think Clinton gets enough credit for his part in causing this mess. I think everyone should read this article from the NYT. It was written in 1999 almost freaking 10 years ago. [query.nytimes.com]

  26. buckfutt says:


    Dodd led a Senate filibuster in 2005 against a regulatory overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

  27. grapedog says:

    i love how the medai escapes all blame…

  28. Jage says:

    Where’s Barney Frank?


  29. vladthepaler says:

    The American Consumer is really cute. i forgive her.

  30. mannyv says:

    Actually, the people that were responsible in the end are the CEOs of whomever rated the mortgage-backed bonds. They obviously did a bad job, and the bonds would never have been allowed into the system if the ratings were anywhere near accurate.

  31. Plates says:

    The United States Congress.

  32. magnoliasouth says:

    I don’t really care what Time things, but Nancy Pelosi is the first moron one who popped into my head.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Anyone who still thinks this financial mess was caused by a small percentage of U.S. homeowners defaulting has not been paying attention. This mess was caused by Credit Default Swaps on toxic paper. No one really knows how much of this is out there, world wide, but figures of half a quadrillion dollars has emerged. And trust me, taxpayers globally are going to be stuck with every bit of that while the ones who created the mess, WALL STREET under the watchfull eye of America’s Congress and a few sitting American Presidents go unscathed financially or legally.

  34. Feminist Whore says:

    Tom Delay. Not a Doubt.


    • Feminist Whore says:

      “By the time we finish this poker game, there may not be a federal government left! Which would suit me just fine.”

      -Tom DeLay, 1994

      In a stunning 1994 interview, shortly after the now infamous Republican revolution, Tom DeLay sat down and laid out his vision for America: to destroy the Department of Education, HUD, OSHA, the NEH, the NEA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. His self-stated goal was to “completely redesign government.”

      The Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress is the story of how he did just that. It’s the story of one of the most blatant power grabs in American history, and how a District Attorney in Texas turned out to be the biggest threat to the national DeLay Machine. The film is a warning about how easy it is for American democracy to be hijacked by a combination of relentless ambition and corporate millions. It makes the case that DeLay built a “custom-made Congress” that is still providing votes for his agenda.

      • Feminist Whore says:

        exhibit b:


        “It’s a dizzying scope of perfidy and politics that boggles the imagination, and although Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay have been brought down, the system remains as vulnerable as ever,” says Bill Moyers. “The scale of corruption still coming to light dwarfs anything since Watergate. In one sense it’s the age-old tale of greed, but greed encouraged now by the way our system works. Deep in the plea agreements of Jack Abramoff and his cronies is the admission that they conspired to use campaign contributions to bribe politicians; campaign finance is at the core of the corruption. They took great pains to cover their tracks, and they might have pulled it off except for a handful of honest people, and the work of some enterprising print reporters, Senate investigators, and the ethics team at the department of justice. Following the money in this story leads through a bizarre maze of cocktail parties, golf courses, private jets, four-star restaurants, sweatshops – and the aura of chandeliered rooms frequented by the high and mighty of Washington.”

  35. narq says:

    I like how people are blaming Bush more than Clinton. Yes all this happened during Bush’s term but it was during Clinton’s presidency that all these policies came into play. In fact Clinton was at the helm of getting these policies pushed through the white house the past couple years of his career. Sub-prime mortgages, deregulation, and removal of oil limitations and regulations were all getting put into policy while Clinton was in office. Sure Bush didn’t do enough to fix it, but he wasn’t responsible for anything but the war. Like it or not, that has nothing to do with the banks or the stocks. In a way, Clinton is more to blame than most of those people. He was our president and he was one of the backers of sub-prime loans.

    • Feminist Whore says:

      @narq: Tom Delay.

    • thezone says:

      @narq: Clinton back the increase of the Community Reinvestment Act. This was not the major factor in the housing bubble. You still needed a down payment and good debt to income ratios to be in this program. Many of the bad loans were things like no income verification loans which were not part of that program.

  36. zonk7ate9 says:

    Let’s go back to the year 2000, and the winner is… the Electoral College.

  37. RogueWarrior says:

    WTF!?! Barney Frank and Chris Dodd aren’t on this list? Donne-moi un effing break. ACORN should be on the list too. And while we’re at it, throw Jimmy Carter on to the pile (pike?) too. GAH!!!!

  38. Smorgasbord says:

    If you read or listen to the news George Bush is the top 100 people responsible for anything that is wrong.