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on 2 June 2014
When initially diving into this book, I was expecting it to be exclusively a defence of Geithner, by Geithner. Whilst still of the opinion that he might possibly be giving undue emphasis to certain actions and decisions, whilst glossing over others, I was pleasantly surprised how readily he was willing to put his hands up and admit to his mistakes.

This book should definitely be required reading for anyone who thinks he knows what caused the 2008 crisis and who thinks he knows how to prevent future crises. Geithner makes it very clear how a combination of a vast number of factors, many unrelated, worked together to cause the events of 2007 onwards. He doesn't try to pin the blame on any one subset of all the actors, but tries to explain clearly and concisely how actions taken (or not taken) led to the events discussed.

He does throw in some interesting anecdotes and asides, but I feel he could have gone a little further to give a more human touch to all the events that unfolded. I found it particularly amusing how many administration officials were under the impression that he was an ex-Goldmans banker, whereas he had never worked for any bank in any capacity.

I do share his despondency about how difficult it will be to enact the desired changes to make our global financial system safer going forward. My conclusion would definitely be that it would be better to attempt to fix the US political system first. Then and only then could any meaningful supervision and regulatory authority for the financial system be put in place. Almost unbelievable that US politicians would push hard for greater supervision of all consumer finance firms, just not those offering car loans, or greater supervision of all banks, just not the two biggest in the particular State that the politician represents.

All in all, a great read, but just be aware that the author, on balance, will want you to be sympathetic to the subject!
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on 27 May 2014
It is a mistake to suppose that you have to agree with an author’s opinions to find the book worth reading! Rather, a work like this should make one question both one’s own and the author’s opinions. This one should be required reading for all bankers, all investors, and all politicians - as should be Margaret Reid’s The Secondary Banking Crisis 1973-5 - and indeed all ought to be able to recite the first three pages of Chapter 10, whatever they may think of the way Tim Geithner tackled his extraordinary tasks. The book is also a very good read for anyone interested in the ways the world works and politicians are prone to behave.
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on 14 June 2014
Worth reading for following reasons:
1. Geithner was the only person who worked both at Fed and in the treasury
2. gives a new insight into the life of Obama administration,
3. replies to the Sheila Bair's criticism,
4. tells about the European developments from the American perspective,
5. tells more about Geithner as a person
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on 27 January 2015
I thought this was a great book ... cogently described by someone in the middle of the financial crisis since 2006. Geithner was first a central banker and regulator at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and then Obama's first Treasury Secretary. Amazing achievement to turn an autobiography from someone with this background into a page turner! He accepts mistakes were made, but he's very clear that extreme austerity cost the tax payer more in the long run than letting temporarily illiquid banks, businesses and countries fail ... and why it sometimes hard to tell the difference between them and the generally insolvent ones! A timely read as Greece votes against austerity.

Of course his critics might have a different view ... I'm not close enough to it to judge.
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on 17 May 2014
This may be the truest account of the global financial crisis. Geithner is no scintillating story-teller, but his tale is gripping. In 2008 we were on the brink of a depression. Geithner was at the eye of the storm. Together with Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson he was one of a trio of policy-makers who are responsible for pulling off an historic escape act.

Critics forget that politics is the art of the possible. Geithner, Paulson and Bernanke would be the first to admit that almost every policy action was a second or third best solution. Any meaningful criticism must take account of political and practical constraints. The treatment of Lehman Brothers is an extreme case in point. With hindsight, the failure of Lehman looks necessary in order to scare the body politic into underwriting the far greater liabilities of AIG and supporting Paulson's demand for $700bn in TARP money, no strings attached.

I recommend reading the Epilogue - which describes the eventual outcomes - before starting this book. One of the ironies in policy-making is that the best public servants rarely get credit. Not only did Geithner, Paulson and Bernanke save us from catastrophe, they were right on all the major calls. It was right to aggressively ease monetary policy and counteract the widespread financial panic with the Fed's balance sheet. Their opponents who pontificated about moral hazard and inflation will be damned by history - persistently low inflation and profound risk aversion are the legacies of 2008.

On fiscal policy, Geithner also wins hands down. American output recovered faster than Europe's and the UK's, it's budget deficit improved more rapidly, and US GDP growth has been far better than the average post-banking crisis recovery. On any measure, America's outcomes have been superior.

There is also a bizarre inconsistency in all the post-crisis hullabaloo from both left and right. The policy-makers who supposedly bailed out Wall Street, actually turned a huge profit on their interventions (only Warren Buffett, perhaps unsurprisingly, predicted this at the time). History cannot fail to observe that these policy-makers sold insurance to the private sector at the height of a panic. And they priced it right. Their policies succeeded, and were profitable for the taxpayer.

Despite an understandable desire to redress prevailing misconceptions, there are honest admissions of substantial errors of judgement. Geithner's decision to appoint Dick Fuld, the maniacal CEO of Lehman brothers, to the board of the New York Fed, reflects particularly poorly. Indeed, if there is a striking institutional weakness at the heart of Fed policy it is precisely the conflict of interest in the structure of the New York Fed, where Geithner was president. It seems obvious that a board populated with the biggest egos on Wall Street should not elect the president of their principal regulatory body.

The timing of this book is also apposite. Transcripts of the FOMC minutes from 2008 and 2009 are now available. So we can check the veracity of Geithner's account. They tell a similar story: he recognised early on the threat of a credit crunch, he was dismissive of "moral hazard" in the face of growing financial panic, and he saw through the threat of inflation from a temporary spike in commodity prices.

Intriguingly, many reviews of this book reveal a deep antipathy to Geithner and his colleagues. In fact, he deserves our gratitude.

Eric Lonergan
Author of 'Money', published by Acumen
Money (second revised edition)
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on 22 May 2015
As an insight into how our elite govern us, it is very revealing.Unashamed and quite open about the attempt to bailout every bank possible on the basis that one major bank going down causes the financial system to freeze.This is that state we have come to,our banks are basically out of control but cannot be corrrected without bringing civilisation down with it.

Geithner did his best to cope with immense pressure of trying to keep the whole thing together when global finance was collpasing all around him.He holds little back in sharing his uncertainties and experiences whilst at the Treasury and in charge of the NY Fed a swell as the mistakes made,so must give him full credit for that.He also had a huge input into the fiscal stimulus to rally the US economy under Obama as Secretary for the Treasury.
A riveting must read from someone at the heart of the financial crisis from start to finish, but one cannot help feeling that this is no way to run an industry.One is left fascinated and appalled at the same time.
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on 12 May 2014
I found Stress Test worth reading (listening), which according to me is Timothy Geithner's attempt to equitably chronicle the role of all associated decision makers in the 2008-2010 recessionary phase & now that I've read this book, I have more respect for Geithner as a human being)

Timothy F. Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary (2009-2013), former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and currently the President of Warburg Pincus, a global Private Equity investment institution), emphasises on the importance of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP or Federal Bailouts) of 2008 and his role in saving the world from the depths of Economic Depression.

In his first book titled "Stress Test," Geithner constructs a persuasive case of his role as the man most responsible for the TARP (Federal Bailouts) of 2008. Financial bailouts historically were only made available to the commercial banks and not extended to the Wall Street Investment houses, Geithner was the first Treasury Secretary to have made this possible.

Geithner makes the case for TARP in saving the Financial Institutions. He extends the argument on the value of Financial Institutions gaining enormity when the country in question is the United States of America (USA), the largest economy on the planet. The importance of the Financial Institutions grows and reaches epic global proportions, when the same nation is facing a crisis, which finds its origins in the core of the same Financial Institutions. The TARP, which then amounted to approximately 700 Billion dollars (and have now reached ~ 8 trillion dollars: all funded by taxpayer money) was released to act as a safety net for the Financial Institutions who in turn are to protect the Tax Payer of the vicious cycle of recession, which if left uncontrolled would have led to Global Economic Depression).

Geithner makes two big admissions

1) He admits that he did not foresee the coming of the "Financial crisis" (especially showcased during a meeting held in March 2008 (the Bears Stearns rescue days), when he objected against the then Federal Governor Kevin Warsh's statement on the fact that financial institutions remained undercapitalized (i.e. the Institutions had too much leverage and hence had too much exposure to potential losses, which could lead to financial apocalypse).

2) His second biggest admission is that he did not grasp the grimness of the troubles, while they were occurring and even after they had occurred (from him being influenced by Citibank's Robert Rubin (who along with Larry Summers had recommended him for the position of President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, despite of him (in his own words) lacking the desired experience).

Geithner also takes jibes at and thrashes the "moral hazard fundamentalists" fellows who raise concerns that bailing out the financial institutions has encouraged even riskier behaviour. He says that the TARP and other rescue programs enacted in the crisis years were a success because the alternative(s), which no one can ever know would have been far worse.

There are some very good stories of his interactions with the heads of Wall Street banks, most notably with Citibank's Robert Rubin, Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein and with important personalities of the likes of the Oracle of Omaha Mr. Warren Buffet, Ben Bernanke, the then Chairperson of the Federal Reserve, his predecessor Hank Paulson, then and current President Mr. Barack Obama and ex-President Mr. Bill Clinton.

Overall a very good read (I heard it on Audible at 1.5x :) ....Yes, audio is a good way (especially if you happen to make long commute). The audible version of the book "Stress Test" has been read by Timothy Geithner himself (and not by a professional) which, makes it even more interesting for me for some true emotion surface up. Audible offers the ability to vary the read speed, which is useful for 1.0x is usually read relatively slowly and hence one may find 1.5x or 2x to be more compatible (for the brain to absorb without exertion, and consume more information in lesser time).
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on 11 April 2016
Brilliant book!
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on 19 July 2014
story could have been told in half the book?
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on 19 May 2014
A weak, dull and devious attempt to reframe his stint as 'making tough decisions that saved the banking system'.

Whilst forgeting his & Greenspan, Bernanke et al's, look the other way light touch non-regulation, for one of the most aggressive greedfest unchecked ever to be perpetuated on humankind, that was allowed to perpetuate before it.

Nothing is better for his actions the Fed's balance sheet is $4Trillion larger and the Poison transferred from bank to government for the taxpayers account and future generations to serve in debt.

Reject this poorly argues and slanted recount for the one sided, weren't I just great for you in hard times historical rewrite. Society requires a truth and reconciliation commission with economic crimes against all of humanity for this weasel and his cohorts, with long term jail sentences and asset stripping of the ill gotten gains in the complicity.. No surprise to find this specimen of one of the most corrupts regimes, lurks nowadays at the CFR, with all the other lizards from Rubin, Hilary Clinton etc..

Don't give his propaganda any credibility by sponsoring it with a purchase.
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