A real-life thriller about the most tumultuous period in America’s financial history by an acclaimed New York Times Reporter
Andrew Ross Sorkin delivers the first true behind-the-scenes, moment-by-moment account of how the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression developed into a global tsunami. From inside the corner office at Lehman Brothers to secret meetings in South Korea, and the corridors of Washington, Too Big to Fail is the definitive story of the most powerful men and women in finance and politics grappling with success and failure, ego and greed, and, ultimately, the fate of the world’s economy.
“We’ve got to get some foam down on the runway!” a sleepless Timothy Geithner, the then-president of the Federal Reserve of New York, would tell Henry M. Paulson, the Treasury secretary, about the catastrophic crash the world’s financial system would experience.
Through unprecedented access to the players involved, Too Big to Fail re-creates all the drama and turmoil, revealing never disclosed details and elucidating how decisions made on Wall Street over the past decade sowed the seeds of the debacle. This true story is not just a look at banks that were “too big to fail,” it is a real-life thriller with a cast of bold-faced names who themselves thought they were too big to fail.
Andrew Ross Sorkin
Audible Audio Edition
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The problem with this book is not just that the author makes virtually no effort to explain why the whole financial system would have collapsed in 2008 absent huge taxpayer bailouts, other than in a few sentences in an epilogue. The problem is that throughout the book he uncritically channels the explanations for the collapse provided by the titans of Wall Street. The CEOs blame the government, the profit-seeking hedge funds and the shorts, never themselves. They come up with ludicrous justifications for billions in salaries and bonuses that fund their lavish lifestyles. You can almost hear Sorkin's pain when he describes how much the net worth of the Lehman CEO, Dick Fuld, declined, and how he has to consider selling his wife's art collection. The fact that he had redeemed hundreds of millions worth of stock ($482 million according to Fortune magazine) as his company was disintegrating around him barely gets mentioned. The accounting tricks used to prop up these paragons both to...
The book details the events, the people and the conversations that roiled the banks in 2008. The book does not really discuss why the events happened. If you're looking to understand why these banks fell, this is not the book to read.
The book is very readable and even at 539 pages, a person can finish it quickly. Another plus is that unlike most NY Times reporters, the author keeps most of his opinions out of the story until the last 2 pages.
His opinions are:
The government allowing Lehman to go into bankruptcy was the catalyst that caused the floodgates to open. This is probably why he spends a lot of the book developing the Lehman story.
He's ambivalent about whether the government players could have prevented the collapse of the banks or even if they did the right things when they did act. But he's quite clear that more banking regulation was needed then and is needed now.
One can disagree with his opinions, but he does...
This is an excellent book that reads like something that Dan Brown might have written. But its real. The part that amazed me was the level of detail Sorkin was able to get about behind the scenes conversations that took place. Stuff about how people such as Dick Fuld of Lehman reacted to the problems when it was becoming clear that the company was going down and he was in denial. How Paulson was reacting to things when there were no rules about what to do.
But probably the most interesting parts were how the different personalities were reacting while the ground was shifting under them. At the peak, many of the people involved were literally working 24 hours a day highlighted by a phone call made to Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citibank at 3 am telling how a deal he made at midnight for Wachovia had instead been trumped by another and that that deal had already been signed and blessed by the government. How major decisions were being made on the run and how solid institutions...
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