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Risky Business

Long before the complete meltdown of the financial industry last fall, Senator Byron Dorgan warned us about the risks posed by one of the key ingredients in that catastrophe: the complex financial packages known as derivatives. In a Washington Monthly cover story, "Very Risky Business" (October 1994), the North Dakota Democrat predicted with uncanny precision what actually happened in September 2008 -- the cascading failures of large lending institutions, the collapse of Fannie Mae, taxpayer-funded bailouts -- and speculated that a derivatives-driven financial crisis would eventually leave Americans "nostalgic for the days of the $500 billion savings-and-loan collapse." In 1999, Dorgan was one of eight senators to vote against the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed Depression-era banking regulation, cautioning at the time that deregulation "would raise the likelihood of future massive taxpayer bailouts." Ten years and trillions of taxpayer dollars later, Sen. Dorgan is one of Congress' leading voices for financial re-regulation. Please join Sen. Dorgan at the New America Foundation for a conversation on how we arrived at the crisis and what common-sense regulations are needed to make sure it never happens again.
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