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By Darwin8u on 08-22-16
An Examination of Bad Debts; its Buyers & Sellers
“I’d be a bum on the street with a tin cup if the markets were efficient.”
― Jake Halpern, Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld
New New Journalism about the financial/debt markets is "So HOT right now".
I went into this book thinking it was going to be a bad copy of a Michael Lewis book. Anyway, a friend of mine recommended this highly. She also has a great book out about debt and the poor (How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy), so I overcame my reluctance and read 'Bad Paper'. IT stunned me. A lot of the basics I understood before, but Halpern was able to add detail and texture to the industry and the players. It reads like Dante's Inferno. First Circle (Banks?), Second Circle (Hedge Funds/Debt Buyers?), Third Circle (Fresh Debt Brokers?), Fourth Circle (Large, more reputable Debt Collectors?), Fifth Circle (Mom & Pop Debt Collectors?), 6th Circle (Older/Crap/Bad Paper Brokers?), 7th Circle (White Dope Peddlers?), 8th Circle (Thieves?), Lawyers (9th Circle). I guess it holds up.
Anyway, the book was tighter than I imagined it was going to be. It was measured, well-documented, and its methodology was documented and obvious. Jake Halpern wasn't venturing too far out with his recommendation or his observations. He played a very close narrative game, and it worked well of this book. Sometimes, you don't have to cook the story too much, the story is already there -- waiting to be eaten. Jake Halern did a good balance of being in the story and getting the hell out of the way.
So, next on my list (after I recover from the emotional toil of this book) is Mehrsa Baradaran's book (How the Other Half Banks) and Jayne Meyer's Dark Money.
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