An insider of both the Bush and Obama administrations offers an irrefutable indictment of the mishandling of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program bailouts and the extreme degree to which our government officials—from both parties—served the interests of Wall Street at the expense of the public.
From his first day on the job as the special inspector general in charge of overseeing the distribution of the bailout money, Neil Barofsky found that the officials at the Treasury Department in charge of the bailouts were in thrall to the interests of the big banks. In vivid behind-the-scenes detail he reveals how they steadfastly failed to hold the banks accountable even as they disregarded major job losses caused by the auto bailouts and refused to help struggling homeowners. He discloses how the team at the Treasury under Secretary Timothy Geithner worked with Wall Street executives to design programs that would have funneled vast amounts of taxpayer money to their firms and allowed them to game the markets and make huge profits with almost no risk and no accountability. Providing stark details about how—through a combination of sheer incompetence and a profound disregard of the plight of homeowners—the interests of the broader public were betrayed, he recounts how an increasingly aggressive war was waged by the Treasury against his efforts to raise the alarm about the failures.
Bailout is a riveting account of his plunge into the political meat grinder of Washington, as well as a vital revelation of just how captive to Wall Street our political system is and why the too-big-to-fail banks have only become bigger and more dangerous in the wake of the crisis.
Neil Barofsky is currently a senior fellow at New York University School of Law. From December 2008 until March 2011, he served as the special inspector general in charge of oversight of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Before that he was a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Bailout is his first book.
©2012 Neil Barofsky (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Barofsky tells the story of how he was the US prosecutor working on major drug cases out of Columbia but became the top cop put in charge of policing the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Unlike many other books about the debt crisis and the bailout this one tells the personal story of one of the inside players. The story format makes the book a much more enjoyable read than the traditional here are the facts with some questionable conclusions style.
The theme of the book is how the Washington culture is toxic with everyone serving only their own interests. Of course Barofsky paints himself as the hero who will not be corrupted by the pressure to conform in his role as the Inspector General of the TARP. He describes how the circumstances and actions of the people at the Treasury Department hindered his ability to have much of any effect at all on how the program was implemented and how the money was used. He blames most of the problems of the TARP on the people at the Treasury Department and claims most of the failures would not have happened if only they had heeded his advice such as to require strict income verification for trial mortgage modifications. He depicts Timothy Geithner as a stubborn and angry bureaucrat who does not listen to reason.
The revelation of the book is that despite the justification of TARP to help the average American underwater in their mortgage and to be a strategic strengthening of the balance sheets of sound and secure companies it was in fact always intended by the Treasury Department to be just an instant cash infusion into companies at the brink of collapse with no string attached. This is what Barofsky says is the real reason why the Treasury stifled transparency and made the job of Inspector General practically a joke. There???s nothing really shocking in this book except perhaps the confrontation between Barofsky and Geithner near the end. This book is clearly Barofsky???s attempt to vindicate himself for the failure of the TARP, but it does make for interesting reading, not only because it???s a story about the bailout but because it???s a story about what???s wrong with Washington and why it???s so hard to change.
Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!
If you are an American, you need to read this. It will truly frighten you to learn just how much the government was working AGAINST you when the financial markets got in trouble... UNLESS you're the CEO of a big bank, and then the government is actually YOUR BEST FRIEND! It truly amazes me how the big banks can break laws, make risky bets, and walk all over the average citizen, and yet our government REWARDS them for it!! This is stuff that would send any "average" citizen to jail, and it's getting the big banks (and their CEOs) REWARDED. Yes, a few trillion in free money, for doing nothing, is a reward.
Before reading this book, I knew it was bad, but WOW!! It is much worse than I thought. Bravo to Barofsky for having the balls to write this.
It is non-political, fair, and fact-filled. What's really impressive is how the author took a subject that is boring, and over most people's heads, and made it exciting and easy to comprehend. You don't need an MBA to enjoy this book... even though what our government did to us should make you sick.
Narrator is great.
If you've ever pondered that question, this book will give you the answer. The subtitle delivers on its promise though there is a lot of political infighting detail that's probably only interesting to those who deal in that world.
A little too much irony in his voice
It made me furious, and all the more appalled at the blinder-wearing WonderBoy and defender of concentrated wealth, Mr. Timothy Geitner. Few people could have served the oligarchy of self-interested bankers looking to screw ordinary citizens better than he did.
Former President Bush often gets a bad rap, and often rightfully so, for his handling of the economy but after reading 'Bailout', shame should fall on the Obama administration and especially the Treasury Department and it's head secretary Geithner. The duty of the Inspector General is to protect the tax payer so who would have thought that his biggest obstacle would be our own Government under Geithner. If this book does not make you mad, nothing will.
I've read most of the books on the mortgage swindles. This is the best, most interesting and names names. Barofsky is my new hero. He also is self deprecating, humorous and gives credit where due. The snakes in Washington do not compare to the drug runners in Columbia he prosecuted.
Yes, if I wanted to understand some of the more complex issues that the author explains
When Neil decides that he is there to do his job and not worry about his future in Washington. He seemed to be one of the few there who had that kind of integrity.
No I have not.
It made me angry and it made me lose confidence in our government the way it is currently structured.
I have little understanding of the financial system in this country and at times it was hard to follow but Neil did a great job explaining the majority of it. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to keep their head out of the sand!
no. This book is great. It doesn't matter what form the book is in.
I've read somewhere around 6 books on the bailout and none of them have the level of detail, inside knowledge and political insight as this book. I had always suspected that Treasury was the reason that we have no real homeowner assistance with mortgage reassessments or payment decreases or equity adjustments. Now we have proof. This book ties together verifiable data and press releases with insider information to complete the puzzle of why we still don't have a true recovery and why we still have "too big to fail" and "too big to sue".
Well written, well narrated, tight, condensed but leaving nothing out.
An Excellent book and Audible title.
I would not want to listen to this book in one sitting. To walk away with such damning information of my government's collusion with Wall Street is depressing enough over the course of a week. To find all this out in one day would be too much for one person to handle.
The inside story on the power hungry, self absorbed characters in Washington.
Barofsky tells an interesting, well organized story about his efforts to curb the extensive selfish influences on the bailout of wallstreet and the banks. To hear his side of it, he was thwarted at nearly every turn by both the banks, lobbyists, wall street, and worst of all the federal government itself. It is frustrating and enormously telling how helpless we, the tax paying, hard working, american public are to stop the overreaching power of the rich and our own government, given that this information is and has been public for some time and no one of any standing, is in jail.
It is understandable that Barofsky see's himself as a victim who did everything he could...and I am far from armed with proof that he didnt, yet I finished the book feeling like his efforts were less than heroic and that by playing within their rules he accomplised very little compared to the astronomical waste and obscene corruption woven throughout the bailout debacle.
A former Washington official's description of how difficult it is to stand up to the dysfunctional system and do what's right.
Want to know how your government really works? What forces really shape policy? Want to know why the current financial crisis is not the problem, its just a symptom of the real problem that is destroying America!
This work is an in depth account of all the forces that came together to create the housing bubble and its inevitable collapse. The Gorden Gecko character from "Wall Street" is a small time operator compared to the real sharks and thieves running our economy!
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