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Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises Hardcover – 15 May 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Business (15 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847941222
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847941220
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.9 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 89,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Sensational ... Tim's book will forever be the definitive work on what causes financial panics and what must be done to stem them when they occur." (Warren Buffett)

"Deals with issues far bigger than anything on the Man Booker long list." (Anne Ashworth The Times)

"Stress Test is an absolutely compelling account of the financial crisis, written in a clear, graceful style with striking honesty at every step along the way." (Doris Kearns Goodwin)

"This is a lucid, fascinating, and extremely important book … Geithner does something unusual: he engages in substance. With both insight and humility, plus a good dose of wry humor, he explains what really happened during the financial crisis. No matter your political persuasion, you will find this book educational, enlightening, and interesting." (Walter Isaacson)

"A fascinating memoir about life in the maelstrom of the financial crisis … Earlier books have described much of what happened that September, but Geithner was present for all the frantic meetings, the thousands of phone calls ― and in the case of Lehman, the failure to find a buyer that could keep it alive. New problems cropped up almost weekly, if not daily. He explains each in easy-to-understand language and what the issues were that shaped the responses… There could be another crisis someday, of course, but what Geithner and his colleagues did has made one far less likely." (USA Today)

Book Description

From the former Treasury Secretary, the definitive account of the unprecedented effort to save the U.S. economy from collapse in the wake of the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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