Black Box Casino

How Wall Street's Risky Shadow Banking Crashed Global Finance

by Robert Stowe England


By the middle of 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had taken onto their balance sheets $1.8 trillion in risky loans and securities. By September of the same year, Citigroup was leveraged 74 to 1, violating capital regulations that set the limit at only 12 to 1. Why didn’t Wall Street and Washington take steps to prevent the economic crisis we are still suffering through and paying for today?

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Cover image for Black Box Casino

September 2011


Pages 250
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Business/Finance, Investments and Banking

This cautionary tale explains how the murky and complex world of mortgage finance caused a global market meltdown—and offers new insights on how to create a stronger world of banking and mortgage finance.

Years after the economic crisis of the late 2000s, Americans still want to know what went wrong—and why. Black Box Casino: How Wall Street's Risky Shadow Banking Crashed Global Finance provides an accurate and understandable explanation, compiling and interpreting mountains of evidence to provide clear analysis and insight into the crisis that traumatized people and institutions around the globe.

The book provides a thorough, in-depth examination of the multiple contributing factors. The author goes back as far as 15 years before the crisis to show how the well-intentioned idea of providing home ownership prompted a government led effort to steadily weaken credit standards. He assigns partial blame on regulators that were unaware of growing levels of risk, ignored mounting evidence of a housing bubble, and failed to grasp the unintended consequences of certain regulations. The origins of the overload of subprime collateralized debt obligations that led to concentrated risks on the balance sheets of many large banks around the world are also explained.


  • Charts and graphs
  • A bibliography


  • Tells the story of the economic meltdown from within the mortgage industry
  • Examines the related policy and regulatory issues
  • Analyzes the headline events of the financial meltdown, putting them in perspective
  • Reveals the mistakes made in Washington and on Wall Street that caused the crisis
Author Info

Robert Stowe England is a journalist and author who has written extensively on mortgage finance, banking, retirement policy, and the financial and economic impact of population aging. His previous works include Aging China: The Demographic Challenge to China's Economic Prospects, and he is senior writer for Mortgage Banking magazine.



"Mr. England writes on the financial crisis with harrowing precision."
—Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal

"In clear, readable prose, Robert England sorts through the complexities of the 2007-2008 financial crisis to reveal the individuals, institutions and financial black magic responsible for America's worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression. Drawing upon sources not available to previous writers, England presents the most complete account yet of how the collapse of an obscure subprime mortgage lender in January 2007 could eventually take down some of the greatest names on Wall Street by September 2008, wreaking massive economic destruction that Americans are still struggling with today."

—Kenneth Cline, Managing Editor, BAI Banking Strategies

"First Reckless Endangerment and now it is Black Box Casino's turn to shine a bright light on the root causes of the mortgage meltdown. England, relying on decades of experience as a financial reporter and consummate research skills, documents how government housing policy, political expediency, and crony capitalism combined to cause the mortgage meltdown that nearly sank the world’s economy."—Ed Pinto, Former Chief Risk Officer of Fannie Mae

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