THREE BIG MISTAKES. But, of course, it’s never that simple. Before we even got to the third one, we were down and done. As much as our willingness to believe in the constant rise felled us, as much as our eagerness to conquer risk opened us up to more risk, as much as Greenspan stood by as Wall Street turned itself into Las Vegas, there was also Greece, and Iceland, and Nick Leeson, who took down Barings, and Brian Hunter, who tanked Amaranth, and Jérôme Kerviel and every other rogue trader who thought he—and it was always a he—could reverse his gut-churning, self-induced free fall with one swift, lucky strike; it was rising oil prices, global inflation, easy credit, the cowardice of Moody’s, the growing chasm of income inequality, the dot com boom and bust, the Fed’s rejection of regulation, the acceptance of “too big to fail,” the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the feast of subprime debt; it was Clinton and Bush the second and senators vacationing with banking industry lobbyists, the Kobe earthquake, an infatuation with financial innovation, the forgettable Hank Paulson, the delicious hubris of ten, twenty, thirty times leverage, and, at the bottom of it, our own vicious, lingering self-doubt. Or was it our own willful, unbridled self-delusion? Doubt vs. delusion. The flip sides of our last lucky coin. We toss it in the fountain and pray.
Jade Chang (The Wangs vs. the World)