An excerpt from Mark Pittman's 10/27/2008 article in Bloomberg.com discussing securitization and the Wall Street house of cards, casino collapse:
Biggest U.S. Export
The bundling of consumer loans and home mortgages into packages of securities -- a process known as securitization -- was the biggest U.S. export business of the 21st century. More than $27 trillion of these securities have been sold since 2001, according to the Securities Industry Financial Markets Association, an industry trade group. That's almost twice last year's U.S. gross domestic product of $13.8 trillion.
The growth over the past decade was made possible by overseas banks, which saw the profits U.S. financial institutions were making and coveted the made-in-America technology, much as consumers around the world craved other emblems of American ingenuity from Coca-Cola to Hollywood movies. Wall Street obliged, with disastrous results: two-thirds of a trillion dollars in bank losses, about 40 percent of them outside the U.S.
``Securitization was based on the premise that a fool was born every minute,'' Joseph Stiglitz, a professor of economics at Columbia University in New York, told a congressional committee on Oct. 21. ``Globalization meant that there was a global landscape on which they could search for those fools -- and they found them everywhere.''