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Suze says the current financial downturn started all the way at the top of banks, mortgage companies and brokerage firms. "There was greed at the top—serious greed," Suze says. "When you have stocks, you have individual companies that want to make money. And [CEOs] want to make more money because the more money they make, the more their compensation is, the more their stock price goes up."

These companies made money by selling investments like mortgages to people who couldn't afford them, Suze says. "Have you all ever wondered, 'Why does Suze Orman say people first, then money, then things?'" she says. "It means if we cared about people more than we cared about money, we would not be having what happened today, because the people who run the corporations, if they had cared about all of you, they wouldn't have created loans that you couldn't afford."

A lack of regulations also contributed to the downfall—and Suze says there weren't more rules established because they would cut into the bottom line. "The more money the brokerage firms, the mortgage companies and all those companies made, the better the economy was. Because if they lent you money, you had money now that you could spend," she says. "When the economy looks great, everybody feels like, 'Oh, we're doing good.' The stock market goes up. When the stock market goes up, the price of shares go up. The compensation for the CEOs go up."

As things progressed, Suze says many people fell under Wall Street's spell. "A lot of you have built your personal financial foundation on deceit and lies. You bought a home that you couldn't afford. ... You spent money like it was going out of style and it wasn't your money to spend, because why? They were borrowing it," Suze says. "When you borrow money, you leverage yourself. The United States of America leveraged itself so high that when it started to come down, the whole thing now has fallen down."
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FROM: Recession-Proof Your Family with Suze Orman
Published on September 25, 2008
Please note: This is general information and is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with your own financial advisor before making any major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio, and a qualified legal professional before executing any legal documents or taking any legal action. Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities are not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your financial or legal decisions.

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