Read the footnotes

The Colonial Revival headquarters of Fannie Ma...

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Sometimes the footnotes contain some of the more interesting material. That is true of a footnote in All the Devils Are Here, The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera. As a former Chicagoan, I am well aware of the claims that the dead voted at least once in elections in Mayor Richard J. Daley’s Chicago.

According to McLean and Nocera, the dead also wrote letters to Congress in support of Fannie Mae, the Government Supported Entity, GSE, that oversaw the housing market in the US before it went bankrupt. In an attempt to increase regulation of Fannie Mae, in 1999 Congressman Richard Baker from Louisiana introduced a GSE reform bill. In the footnote on that page, this is what ensued.

“In response, Fannie hired a telemarketing company, which blanketed the Hill with tens of thousands of letters protesting the bill. Some of them turned out to be from dead people. When asked how much the campaign cost, Fannie said that information was ‘proprietary.’”