Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System---and Themselves
Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System---and Themselves
Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System---and Themselves
Price: $11.42 FREE for Members
Type: eBook
Released: 2009
Publisher: Viking Adult
Page Count: 351
Format: pdf
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0670021253
ISBN-13: 9780670021253
User Rating: 4.6000 out of 5 Stars! (5 Votes)

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.

Gregory Forsthoefel | 3 out of 5 Stars!

Simply a chronology


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 well to leave most of them till the end of the book.

A few criticisms:

As mentioned, he does not discuss why exactly these events happened. In the epilogue, he briefly mentions 4 events that percolated over 10 years that conspired to cause the perfect storm in 2008. But he could have spent a chapter (prologue) describing these events and how they conspired to cause the problem. Apparently he's not a banker or an academic, so maybe he didn't feel qualified to do this.

Second criticism: In a few places prior to his epilogue, he lets us know his (negative) opinion of some players. It's obvious his disdain for Chris Cox and Sheila Bair. But he's particularly vitriolic towards the Wall Street Journal editorial page. I thought that as a chronicler, the author should have omitted his opinions of these people/institutions. Except for these incidents, he does largely keeps his opinions out of the manuscript until the last few pages.

Overall, a quick read that details the players and the chronology of events. If all you need is to understand the crisis, then this book should suffice.

John O. Clark | 5 out of 5 Stars!

After reading two other well-publicized books on the real estate bubble and following market crash, I felt like I had been had. One book, primarily about Lehman, was shallow and written by an egotistical prima donna. The other was too technical and appeared to not have been edited well. This book was written by a finanial author and is fair, thorough, and puts everything in perspective. It is well-written and flows for an easy read. If you have any interest in financial history, this book belongs on your shelf along with other classics like When Genius Failed, Barbarians at the Gate, and the Smartest Guys in the Room. Ignore the poor ratings by those who were disappointed in the Kindle price. That is another issue.
Alan | 5 out of 5 Stars!

A Real Page Turner


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 became institutions on the brink in a matter of hours.

The book also explains how companies like Barclays and China Investment Corporation were working behind the scenes as well how Paulson, Geithener and others in the government were scrambling to keep things from collapsing. There is a lot of Monday Morning Quarterbacking going on and some of the things these people did may not have been the best, but they pulled it off and we should all be grateful.

But there some bad guys, namely the short sellers and as usual some in congress. The book makes clear that out of control short selling added fuel to the flames that were occurring and that when we were facing this emergency some members of Congress were focused on their own butt instead of doing what was needed.

There is a huge cast in this book and its is sometimes hard to keep the people and their roles straight, but make the effort. You will be rewarded.

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