The Bookshelf: Behind the Housing Crash

The next review is of Aaron Clarey’s 2008 book Behind the Housing Crash. Clarey is probably better known in these parts by his moniker Captain Capitalism, and I’ve reviewed one of his previous books: Worthless.

Before I go on, I will mention that the Captain and his blog hold a special place here at this blog. CC was my introduction to manosphere. I had read Roissy on and off for a few years prior, but had never gone beyond that or taken it more seriously than an interesting diversion, but when I started reading CC last winter is when I really began to explore the red pill in earnest.

The book reads a lot like his blog with a similar writing style. That’s mostly good, as the Captain has an enjoyable and engaging writing style. It does have its negatives though, one aspect it shares with blog posts is that there are grammatical errors, awkward sentence constructions, and the like throughout the book. This is fine in blog posts, but just reads off in an actual book. It’s hard to fault Clarey too much for this though, the lack of an editorial process is one of the major problems with self-publishing. The editorial problems only slightly detract from the book, though, so it’s not too big a deal. In a way they

The book itself is essentially an extended diatribe against the corruption of the banking industry and developers. You can feel Aaron’s rage burn through as you read the book. The book does contain a fair amount of analysis and explanation, but at its heart it’s a screed against the greedy, corrupt fools who helped destroy our economy. I think the book benefits from this; you can find analysis of the housing crisis everywhere from every possible ideological angle, but a book detailing an insider’s rage, struggles, and resignation is something more interesting.

That’s where this book shines. The book illustrates how an idealistic young analyst trying to do his job is continually stymied, harassed, and beaten down by the system and incompetents around him until he finally simply does what the corrupt and incompetent in charge desire out of resignation. The anger, cynicism, and alienation the banking system created in this particular employees seeps through every part of this book.

If you want to know why men drop out of economic production to play video games or why there’s a “demise of guys”, this book is a great illustration of the alienation the current labour market engenders in aspiring young adult males.

The stories about his interactions with bankers and developers make this book worth reading. The book is filled with his dealings with corrupt bankers, incompetent managers, and sleazy developers and the stories will sometimes amaze you, sometimes, amuse you, and engender a fair amount of cynicism in you.

I also like his conclusion at the end of the book. Most analysis of the housing crash I’ve seen puts on the blame on their ideological boogeymen. Liberals will blame the bankers and regulators, socialists blame the capitalist system, conservatives blame the government and the irresponsible, libertarians the Fed and the government, etc.

Clarey does not shy away from blaming the bankers, the developers, irresponsible borrowers, and the perverse incentives of the banking system, although, he does excuse the Fed, who I think was partially to blame, but he goes further. The book points out what few analysts seem to, the housing crash was not just some corrupt authority figures and some idiots, it was a systemic corruption at all levels of society. He concludes with blaming the entitlement mentality and the “thin-skinned economy” where being nice is more important than being right.

This is very important. The housing crash only could come about because the entirety of society was (and is) corrupted by an entitlement mentality and people chasing after stuff they had not earned. Clarey does not shy away from coming to this conclusion.

The book ends with a little section of changes that could be made to prevent a future bubble and crash. Most of these seem reasonable to me.

Recommendation:

If you’re interested in the housing crash, want a story of a man being worn down by the system, and/or simply enjoy angry screeds against the incompetent I’d recommend the book, it is engaging, enjoyable, and informative.

If you’re a pedantic grammar-nazi I’d avoid it.