You might remember the article I linked to a couple of days ago about a New York Times economist about to default on his mortgage, although chances are that you don’t, because of the thousands (possibly millions!) of people who read this blog only 63 of you clicked on the link. For shame.
Edmund Andrews announced that he was publishing a book about his experience, advance copies were sent out and Andrews recieved rave reviews for his candour and insight, with one economist writing:
Through his reporting, Andrews definitively makes the case that Wall Street’s insatiable hunger for mortgages of any quality — in fact, the worse the better! — that could be bundled up into securities and then resold, provided the critical incentive encouraging the subprime mortgage sector to explode to such huge dimensions. As individuals, we do not deserve all the blame for living beyond our means — we were encouraged to do so and seduced into doing so by a host of characters, from Alan Greenspan to the biggest Wall Street bankers to the incorrigible telemarketers who never stopped calling.
But Andrews reputation for candour took quite a beating last week when Megan McArdle, a blogger at The Atlantic revealed that Andrews wife was a serial bankrupt, a detail he ommitted from the book. McArdle has Andrew’s response and her response to Andrews response up at her blog.She concludes:
I think this matters because the story Andrews told was basically about the subprime crisis, and the book casts him as a sort of everyman, lured in by cheap credit and a likeable scoundrel of a mortgage broker. That may be what happened to many, or most people in the mortgage crisis–but the back to back bankruptcies strongly suggest that this is not what happened to Andrews. That said, I think the story told with the bankruptcies included would still be a story well worth telling.
Andrews claims to be upset by the intrusion into his private life and that of his wife, so aside from being interesting in of itself I think this debate is germaine to l’affair Christine Rankin: if Andrews book was about almost anything else I think his wife, her past marriages and her financial mistakes should be off limits, just as Rankin’s should be if she’d been appointed to almost any other public service position other than the Families Commission.