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.
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.
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!
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.