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The 1980s opened with the prime interest rate at an astonishing 21.5 percent,
leading to a severe recession with unemployment reaching nearly 11 percent.
Depression-like conditions befell the agricultural sector, a bubble burst in
the energy sector, a rolling real estate recession swept the country, the
entire thrift industry was badly insolvent and the major money center banks
were loaded with third world debt. Some 3,000 bank and thrifts failed,
including nine of Texas’ 10 largest, and Continental Illinois, which, at the
time, was the 7 th largest bank in the nation. These severe conditions were not
only handled without creating a panic, the economy actually embarked on the
longest peacetime expansion in history.
In Senseless Panic: How Washington Failed America , William M. Isaac, Chairman
of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) during the banking and S&L
crises of the 1980s, details what was different about 2008’s meltdown that
allowed the failure of a comparative handful of institutions to nearly shut
down the world’s financial system. The book also tells the rousing story of
Isaac’s time at the FDIC. With accessible and engaging prose, Isaac: Details
the mistakes that led to the panic of 2008 and 2009 Demystifies the conditions
America faced in 2008, and Provides a roadmap for avoiding similar shutdowns
and panics in the future
Senseless Panic is a provocative, quick-paced, and thoughtful analysis of
what went wrong with the nation's banking system and a blunt indictment of
United States policy.