Financial-crisis playing cards

If the economic meltdown has forced you into a budget-friendly staycation this summer, you can treat yourself to some cheap and potentially cathartic entertainment. For a mere $5.95, just buy a deck of Financial Crisis Most Wanted Playing Cards.

Not to be outdone by the Iraqi most-wanted deck of cards from a few years ago, budding entrepreneur Jason Witt of San Ramon, Calif. came up with 52 faces of the financial crisis. The deck features Wall Street hot shots, financial felons (convicted or at least alleged), ineffectual regulators and other poster boys of the times. (And we do mean boys, since 51 of 52 cards picture men.) In the Iraqi version, the Ace of Spades was reserved for Saddam Hussein; in the crisis deck, that dishonor goes to Bernard Madoff, the Ponzi-schemer extraordinaire.

There is no shortage of intriguing “winning” hands. Here’s a memorable full house:

–King of Spades: Alan Greenspan (former Federal Reserve chairman)
–King of Hearts: Angelo Mozilo (former CEO, Countrywide Financial, current defendant in civil fraud case for insider trading)
–King of Clubs: Richard Fuld (former CEO, Lehman Brothers)
–Ace of Diamonds: Ben Bernanke (current Federal Reserve Chairman)
–Ace of Clubs: Jim Cramer (CNBC stock jock)

Financial crisis playing cardsThe lone woman in the mix is FDIC chairwoman Sheila Bair. Witt says he wanted to include banking analyst Meredith Whitney, who has been credited as one of the few voices to sound the alarm bell early, but he was unable to snag permission.

Jokers are reserved for educational purposes. One features a 10-year timeline of key events, the other lists acronyms of the time, such as CDO and TARP.

What’s missing are stand-ins for some other key players, including the appraisers happy to pump hot air into the already dangerous bubble, and yes, the homeowners who fell for it all and took on mortgages they never really could afford. Who would you nominate for your own deck of shame?

–Carla Fried

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