I just finished reading Bush Administration Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's new book "On the Brink: Inside the Collapse of the Global Financial System". Coupled with "House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street", I now have two views of the 2008 melt-down of global liquidity. I've just started "Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System--and Themselves", and so I figure by the time I've finished these three books, I'll be a damn sight smarter on what happened than I was when I was living through it.
Paulson's book is a readable, diary form overview of his actions, decisions and insights throughout the crisis. Seeing the fall of Bear Stearns from the viewpoint of Bear insiders (House of Cards), and now seeing Paulson's side--I was gratified to see that pretty much everyone seemed to believe that there were legitimate, no joke systemic crises underway. Folks inside industry and the government were fearful for a worldwide calamity--and it was this perception that drove Paulson (and President Bush) to pursue TARP--which as I've said before--is the ONLY THING government has done since this crisis started that has actually made things better.
Paulson is to be congratulated for his service to the country. He, Ben Bernanke, and Tim Geithner (then President of the NY Fed) worked like field hands for months at a time to try and put this country back on firm footing. The maturity of those at the top was gratifying.
Paulson cites Barney Frank as being particularly effective and helpful during the crisis--something that I must honestly admit to being astonished about. I never doubted Frank's intellect, just his ability to transcend ideological blinders--and from Paulson's view, he can.
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