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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

When America Foreclosed. The Foreclosure of America by Adam Michaelson

Adam Michaelson, a marketing executive at Countrywide, was intrigued when he was invited to a meeting at the Vault - a nuclear bunker deep underground.  He listened in amazement to a presentation advocating mortgages that actually increased the amounts which people owed on their houses.  This was based on the premise that house prices would keep rising.

Michaelson immediately imagined a scenario in which house prices began to decrease and the forthcoming disaster.  "Are you nuts?" he asked the presenter..  He loved working for Countrywide and he developed the "Realize Your Dreams" campaign.  Michaelson really felt that this huge company was helping people do just that because it loaned people money to help them buy houses and apartments.  Even the image of the campaign - a nice house with white picket fence -  was the embodiment of the Great American Dream.

Disillusionment set in, however, when he realised what was going to happen and he watched the company go into free fall.

Some of these business tomes are boring, but this is a fast-paced, exciting book which puts the reader right into the heart of the bubble. Michaelson describes the rise of Countrywide and how it all went wrong.  He still defends capitalism, however, arguing that too much market control and watching over people is the beginning of totalitarianism.  I agree!

He has helpful suggestions to stop this disaster happening again.  Unfortunately, I don't think that any of them are being put into practice.

 Michaelson's outline of his career is also useful for anyone interested in marketing, especially his handling of job interviews.

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