A full insider account of the meltdown of the real-estate market can be found in this terrifically readable book by Michael Hudson, an economist and Wall Street analyst. There are lots of explanations about why the bubble burst, but the deregulation of the lending industry is a primary culprit. Once restrictions were taken off bankers, it was Katy-bar-the-door as the line between commercial and investment banks was erased. Banks made and then bundled bad loans and sold them in a blizzard of devalued paper. There was no money to be made by being prudent, and the imprudent were making money hand over fist, rewarded with bonuses and perks of every conceivable kind, with bacchanalias staged to celebrate their excesses. Hudson gives readers piercing insight into the booze, broads and cocaine that fueled the buccaneers in the mortgage game, a legion of amoral, greed-driven 20-somethings working feverishly to make quotas by pushing as much bad paper as possible. Though I thought myself too old to be shocked, the revelations here shocked me. Read it and weep. Then watch the documentary Inside Job, and get angry.