I used to work for a European-based private bank in Southern California. My clients were successful, educated professionals looking for investment management, second loans, and lines of credit.
A typical client of mine was a high-level executive or entrepreneur from the East Coast, Europe, or the Middle East. Many of them owned several properties. Their primary residence was in, say, Corona del Mar, but they often owned condos or duplexes in less affluent areas nearby rented to Hispanics, Asians, and other immigrants. In fact, not a few of them told me they wanted to snap up more properties to take advantage of all the immigrants coming in. They were aspiring to be slumlords.
Almost all of these high net worth clients had a belief that the housing boom in Southern California would never end. It simply did not figure into their anlaysis. And it showed. Their mortgages were mostly ARMs, with little to no documentation required. Sometimes a quick 'phone call would suffice. The falsification of income and assets was commonplace, but at the bank we were encouraged to turn a blind eye. Of course, many of the loans and lines we extended to these clients were secured by investment portfolios.
Consumption was out of control. Good taste was rarely if ever noted. My associates were decked out in the latest from Armani, Patek Philippe, and Gucci. Square-toed shoes and loafers were the norm, even amongst people who should have known better. In my Brooks Brothers suits, black half brogues, and repp ties, I stood out from the sartorial crowd.
I was regularly invited to parties in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, and Laguna Beach, at which could be found an unremitting supply of girls and drugs. I recall going to a party at a beach front house in Laguna Beach. Piles of cocaine dotted a glass table in front of a large window overlooking the beach. People were having sex in the jacuzzi outside. I am too young to have experienced the excesses of the 1980s, but I imagine it was similar.