Sheila Bair is widely acknowledged in government circles and the media as one of the first people to identify and accurately assess the subprime crisis. Appointed by George W. Bush as the chairperson of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in 2006, she witnessed the origins of the financial crisis and, in 2008, became - along with Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, and Timothy Geithner-one of the key players invested in repairing the damage to our economy. Bull by the Horns is her remarkable and refreshingly honest account of that contentious time and the struggle for reform that followed and continues to this day.
A level-headed, pragmatic figure with a clear focus on serving the public good, Bair was often one of the few women in the room during heated discussions about the economy. Despite her years of experience and her determination to rein in the private banks and Wall Street, she frequently found herself at odds with Geithner. She is withering in her assessment of some of Wall Street's finest, and her narrative of Citibank's attempted takeover of Wachovia is a stinging indictment of how regulators and the banks worked against the public interest at times to serve their own needs.
Bair is steadfast in her belief that the American public needs to fully understand the crisis in order to bring it to an end. Critical of the bank bailouts and the Can. $29.99 lax regulation that led to the economic crash, she provides a sober analysis as well as a practical plan for how we should move forward. She helps clear away the myths and half truths about how we ran our economic engine into the ditch and tells us how we can help get our financial and regulatory systems back on track.
©2012 Sheila Bair (P)2013 Tantor
I was able to listen to only 60% of this, because I got tired of Bair's sanctimonious diatribes against Tim Geithner and, to a lesser extent, the others who plowed bold ground to save us from financial Armageddon in 2008-09. She viewed her role as head of the FDIC narrowly and was a stickler for the rules, which wasn't the approach required when the walls and bridges were burning down - so thank goodness she was left out of the loop in most of the critical decision-making done by Geithner, Bernanke and Paulson. Her conservative approach to bank regulation and supervision is entirely appropriate, but she does herself no favors by playing the ostensible victim of an old boy network, rarely admitting she was wrong, failing to see the perspective of her antagonists, and railing against dramatic actions taken in the name of financial stability with her naive, Midwestern "gee whiz", "oh I'm shocked" mentality. Geithner and Paulson left the personal animus out of their books, and Bair would have done well to do the same. See "Joseph's" review of June 9, 2014, on Goodreads for a more detailed and evocative telling of my feelings about this book. Bair wasn't done any favors by the narrator, who sounds just like Fraser's ex-wife "Lilith" and piles on the righteous indignation through her reading.
There are good and bad features of this book. On the plus side, a very clear and knowledgable account of the fascinating regulatory debates in which she played an important part. On the other hand, some of the criticism of her colleagues in Government sound a little harsh. An interesting book overall, and very well read.
I have been a pretty big Sheila Bair fan. I admire her for trying to swim against the tide that she felt was wrong. I have read several books relating to the great recession but thought that I might gain some additional insights by hearing her unique insiders perspective. This book is much long in the tooth on her and short on insights. The writing style suffers from an attempt to be overly rich in style. The book would read better if every other adjective at random were removed. I don't really care "HOW" she picked up her coffee!
In full disclosure. I sufferred through 40 min of chapter one, 5 min of 2. 3 min of 3 and 4 and 5 and gave up. It may get better.
The primary thrust seems to be Sheila Bair - Super Woman. Everyone else - bad.
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