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» READ MORE: this story in tomorrow's New York Times

, about the obscene bonuses that Wall Street paid out for profits that weren't really there:

But those earnings from mortgage-backed securities -- that have since collapsed -- were a mirage:

When I think of an empire collapsing, I always think of some toga-wearing Roman dude on the couch getting hand-fed grapes. I guess this madness is our own version of that.