1991: The Savings and Loans Scandal Trading Cards

The Savings and Loans Scandal Trading Cards (1991) by Dennis Bernstein, Laura Sydell and Stewart Stanyard.

I’ve covered a few of the Eclipse “trading” card sets before, like the Iran/Contra set. Beyond the novelty, I’ve been underwhelmed by the writing on these sets, even if the Bill Sienkiewicz-illustrated ones are real purdy to look at.

This set is the best-written one of the ones I’ve seen. Perhaps it’s because it’s about banking and I’m a banker (NO!!!), but I just find the entire thing intriguing (NO!!1!).

I’ve known, in abstract, about the Savings and Loans scandal, but the writers here lay it out in a very understandable manner (well, at least to me).

The cards are very much meant to be read sequentially, I think. They have an arc and a logic to them. We start off with some cards that explain what this was all about, and how it started.

Then we’re introduced to a whole bunch of individual banksters, and we’re told what they did and how they ended up. The surprising thing to me was that so many of them ended up in jail. That’s one way things have changed since then: In the previous bankster meltdown, nobody of significance went to jail, and certainly not people who owned banks.

The artwork by Stanyard is pretty apposite. He’s inventive and draws good likenesses of people. They’re not exactly caricatures. But they’re not wildly interesting, either.

Most of the individual cards in the person-by-person rundown of who ruined what thrift, savings & loans, and bank aren’t that interesting, though. After reading about ten of these creeps, it’s hard to care that much, so it’s nice when the writers throw in somebody who’s more connected, like Neil Bush.

As we get closer to the end, the authors tie everything together, and of course it turns out that there’s a bunch of connections between the banksters, the CIA, and the Iran/Contra crimes.

And we get a heads up where things are going. Alan Greenspan is pointed to as a major danger, which turned out to be accurate. He’s the person who bears the greatest responsibility for the 2008 crash.

And I think basically that everything they note here has come to pass. Very prescient.

And finally, we get a little dictionary of fun banking terms. Always useful.

Well, if you’re a banker.

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