White-Collar and Corporate Crime: A Documentary and Reference Guide

White-Collar and Corporate Crime: A Documentary and Reference Guide

White-Collar and Corporate Crime: A Documentary and Reference Guide

White-Collar and Corporate Crime: A Documentary and Reference Guide

Synopsis

This reference guide documents white-collar crimes by individuals and businesses over the past 150 years, offering the most comprehensive array of documents and interpretations available.

• Provides dozens of court documents, legislative hearing transcripts, muckraking articles, and accounts of crooked behavior in the upper echelons of power

• Contains numerous photographs that illustrate the subject material

• Includes a bibliography in each section that directs readers to supplementary sources

Excerpt

Crimes, misdeeds, and self-serving actions by business executives and the corporate enterprises that employ them underlay the severe meltdown of the global economic marketplace that got under way in the last third of the first decade of the current century. Families were forced from their homes in the United States because they had been talked into so-called subprime loans by slick salesmen who were well aware that their customers would not be able to make the payments on the homes they had yearned for if the real estate bubble burst, as it most assuredly sooner or later would. Loan applications were faked—bus drivers were reported to be earning $200,000 a year. Down payments were no longer required, and low or nonexistent interest rates were offered without the offsetting information that in two or five or some other number of years down the road, the interest rate would zoom up to a level well beyond the ability of the purchaser to handle it.

The crisis metastasized. Unemployment rose steeply, further undercutting the possibility that recipients of subprime loans could meet their mortgage payments. Investment banks whose portfolios were stuffed with millions, sometimes trillions, of dollars’ worth of risky subprime mortgages found themselves unable to raise enough capital to meet increasing customer demands to cash in on their stock holdings as they came to realize that the institutions were in serious financial trouble. The American crisis, the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression of 1929, quickly engulfed markets throughout the world. In many countries these foreign institutions had purchased huge amounts of the American housing debts, lured by incorrect assessments of the risk factors involved and the allure of high returns.

The economic catastrophe brought to the foreground a theme that has resonated throughout the whole of recorded history: that persons and business entities with power will at times take advantage of lax or nonexistent regulatory regimens to play fast and loose with ethical standards and with the demands of the criminal law. In ancient Greece, seven centuries before the beginning of the current calendar, Solon, a leading statesman and lawgiver, issued edicts that condemned middlemen, who . . .

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