So, why read it at all? The answer is that it--okay, it's a slog, but actually a pretty good slog: maybe more of an aide-memoir if you will, effective at walking you through the particulars of the housing crisis qua housing crisis. Housing, that is, as seen from the dark and bloody frontier between regulators and regulated as they lob stink bombs at each other over issues of control. A companion piece, then, to Alyssa Katz' superb Our Lot, still umatched as an account of housing-on-the-ground, or Michael Hudson's uneven but insightful The Monster on predatory lending from the inside. In a different sense, it's a bit like the Financial Crisis Inquiry Report--a just-the-facts bowl of nutrition with lots of roughage.
But I guess I can think of at least one takeaway soundbite. Specifically, The Subprime Virus makes it clear that lunatic or dodgy regulation over real estate lending is not something that just happened: it was the result of a protracted and sometimes better campaign pitting (often exhausted and always outgunnned) regulators against the anarchic merry pranksters in the private sector. And say what you like about regulation (I often say I don't like it): a narrative like the one in this book--like the three books together, actually--makes it clear that there simply are not sufficient market incentives to keep things on an even keel in this realm. The very definition of housing is professional versus amateur and the very definition of banking is Other People's Money. These are the very essence of victimization no amount of chatter about reputational interests blah blah will ever make people behave well enough on their own.
I've described the book as bland and colorless. Actually, there is one remarkable human story here: that would be Darrel Dochow, who appears to have been