Why Edmund Andrews, Times Reporter Who Chronicled Financial Woes, Took the Buyout

Edmund Andrews, the Times reporter who wrote a book (Busted: Inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown) that was excerpted in The Times Magazine last May, was one of the 74 staffers to take a buyout from the paper.

In his book, Mr. Andrews explained how he became entangled in the mortgage crisis that has swept the country, purchasing a house he couldn’t really afford and piling up debt.

When Mr. Andrews popped up on the buyout list, we wondered: Did he need the buyout to avoid foreclosure?

“No, it wasn’t relevant at all,” he said in an interview. “The only value for the buyout was that it essentially provides me with enough money to do a thoughtful exploration of new possibilities. … My economic problems-which are not over-are not really changed by buyout.”

Mr. Andrews said the buyout gives him money that translates into “more than a year’s salary.”

He said that, back in May, he needed the book to be a hit in order to get out of trouble.

“It didn’t solve those problems-that’s for sure,” he continued. “We’re still in that house. We’re in a plan with the mortgage lender, and our finances have stabilized a bit, but we’re not out of the woods yet.”

He was a bit vague when we asked him about the future-“It is a very big world out there,” he repeated several times over the course of a 25-minute conversation-but said that he’s interested in academia, possibly a return to journalism or taking a job that would make use of years of reporting on finance.

“I don’t have plans to go on a vision quest or something, or go to a mountaintop and meditate for a year or two. I might take a couple days of skiing over the Christmas holiday, but that’s about as much break as I’m going to give myself,” he said.

Mr. Andrews also said his family’s economic situation is slightly less precarious than when Busted was published. (Recall also that the book was at the center of a minor scandal when The Atlantic revealed that Mr. Andrews’ wife had twice declared bankruptcy-once while married to Mr. Andrews, a fact that was not in his book or the Times Magazine piece.)

“My wife is doing better,” he said. “The biggest problem we had was that my wife had a terrible time with earnings in the previous couple of years. That’s improved, slightly. Now she’s working more than she was before. She’s a freelance editor and getting a lot of work.”

jkoblin@observer.com Why Edmund Andrews, Times Reporter Who Chronicled Financial Woes, Took the Buyout