Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street

Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned

Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street [Download] ✤ Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street ➸ Neil Barofsky – Polishdarling.co.uk In telling of his stranger than fiction baptism into the corrupted ways of Washington, Barofsky offers an irrefutable indictment, from an insider of the Bush Obama administrations, of the mishandling In telling of his stranger than fiction baptism Inside Account MOBI ð into the corrupted ways of Washington, Barofsky offers an irrefutable indictment, from an insider of the Bush Obama administrations, of the mishandling of thebillion TARP bailout fund In behind the scenes detail, he shows the extreme degree to which government officials bent over backward to serve the interests of Wall Street firms at the expense of the public at the expense of effective financial reform During the height of the financial crisis in , Barofsky gave up his Bailout: An PDF or job as a prosecutor in the US Attorney s Office in NYC, where he d convicted drug kingpins, Wall Street executives mortgage fraud perpetrators, to become the special inspector general in charge of oversight of bailout money spending From the first his efforts to protect against fraud to hold big banks accountable for how they spent taxpayer money were met with outright hostility from Treasury officials in charge of the bailoutsBarofsky discloses how, in serving banking interests, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner his team worked with Wall Street An Inside Account ePUB ↠ executives to design programs to would funnel vast amounts of taxpayer money to their firms would have allowed them to game the markets make huge profits with almost no risk or accountability, while repeatedly fighting efforts to put the necessary fraud protections in place His investigations also uncovered abject mismanagement of the bailout of insurance giant AIG Geithner s decision to allow the payment of millions of dollars in bonuses that the Obama administration s TARP Czar lobbied for the executives to retain their high payProviding details about how, meanwhile, the interests of homeowners the broader public were betrayed, Barofsky recounts how Geithner his team steadfastly failed to fix glaring flaws in the Obama administration s homeowner relief program pointed out by bailout watchdogs, rejecting anti fraud measures, which unleashed a wave of abuses by mortgage providers against homeowners, even causing some who wouldn t have lost their homes otherwise to go into foreclosure Ultimately only a small fractionbillion when he stepped down of thebillion allocated to help homeowners was spent, while the funds expended to prop up the financial system totaledtrillion As he raised the alarm about the bailout failures, he met with obstruction He recounts in blow by blow detail how an increasingly aggressive war was waged against his efforts, with even the White House launching a broadside against him Bailout is a riveting account of his plunge into the political meat grinder of Washington, as well as a vital revelation of just how captured by Wall Street the political system is why the too big to fail banks have only become bigger dangerous in the wake of the crisis.


10 thoughts on “Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street

  1. William Thomas William Thomas says:

    Behold, Neil Barofsky is the Second Coming of Christ Witness as he is led into the temple and overturns the money changers tables Watch as he is nearly crucified in Columbia Gaze at the pinnacle of moral superiority in a corrupt world Jesus H Christ This book is nothingthan an autobiography of Barofsky s life over the last 10 years or so It is not, as billed, a history of, nor a socio political analysis of, nor a thorough examination of the bailouts it claims to be Instead, what we Behold, Neil Barofsky is the Second Coming of Christ Witness as he is led into the temple and overturns the money changers tables Watch as he is nearly crucified in Columbia Gaze at the pinnacle of moral superiority in a corrupt world Jesus H Christ This book is nothingthan an autobiography of Barofsky s life over the last 10 years or so It is not, as billed, a history of, nor a socio political analysis of, nor a thorough examination of the bailouts it claims to be Instead, what we get here is Barofsky trying to clear his name for posterity and so that history cannot label him a monster in the wake of this catastrophe It s basically 300 pages of him trying to cover his ass and martyr himself while redirecting all blame to a myriad of other Capitol Hill players What irked me most about this book The fact that Barofsky plays the doe eyed babe in the woods here, just a plain old guy getting ground to dust by the bureaucracy, and appalled by the immorality of those around him If we are to believe Barofsky, he is the pinnacle of morality, not only in DC, but in NYC and any other place he sets foot Wherever he goes, he walks on water Not only that, but before becoming the GIC of Oversight for TARP, he only ever worked for people who were as moral as he and could teach him to be evenrighteous Now, any man working as a lawyer in a major metropolitan area, or for the federal government, cannot be, by definition, a babe in the woods Not the lost and wandering naive man he claims to have been The man openly admits to taking on the largest drug cartel in the world Does this sound like a country bumpkin that doesn t know his way around a big city Poor Neil, you were just a straw man, weren t you Poor baby But wait That s not right You were a shark when you were dropped into the oversight job Don t try to play dumb with us The gall of this man just burns me up On top of that, there isn t even enough actual information about the bailout in this book to fill a New Yorker article, let alone this book Anything reported in these pages has been public knowledge for years now It isn t anything you can t find out from CNN reports or the NYT But, if you want to knowabout the martyred Second Coming of Christ, the moral apex of the US and the end of a political career trying to be saved for posterity, well then go right ahead and read this, Neil Barofsky s autobiography


  2. Frank Stein Frank Stein says:

    One of the best descriptions of Washington I have ever read.To start off I have to say that, despite the title, the least interesting parts of the book are actually those in which Neil Barofsky, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program SIGTARP , describes the intricacies of how the Treasury, under both Bush and Obama, shoveledmoney to undeserving firms, granted banks unnecessary tax privileges, and exacerbated the foreclosure crisis with poorly designed programs One of the best descriptions of Washington I have ever read.To start off I have to say that, despite the title, the least interesting parts of the book are actually those in which Neil Barofsky, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program SIGTARP , describes the intricacies of how the Treasury, under both Bush and Obama, shoveledmoney to undeserving firms, granted banks unnecessary tax privileges, and exacerbated the foreclosure crisis with poorly designed programs like HAMP Thanks at least partially to Barofsky s work as SIGTARP, from whence he provided oversight for the 700 billion dollar bank bailout, those stories have been told many times before What is truly original here is Barofsky s insightful and refreshingly honest look at Washington machinations This is not a tale of grand corruption, of unmarked bags of cash and under the table briefcases that Oliver Stone or some other director would have us imagine This is instead a story of how pettiness and childish ceremonies of power and privilege corrupt the personalities of those who work in a constantly political world Unlike most strivers in DC, though, Barofsky seems remarkably immune from Potomac Fever, and thus keeps a sharp eye for the ridiculous protocols that define a place that remains foreign but fascinating to him He and his deputy, who both came to DC from the Office, the US Attorney s Office of the Southern District of New York, are always rushing to each other to explain the newest hilarious strategy by Paulson or Geithner to undermine whomever they ve decided to oppose for the moment For instance, at one point a Treasury employee stops Barofsky in the hall to claim that Elizabeth Warren really hates him, and is really jealous of him, something he knows is not true since he just talked to her, but that someone in Treasury clearly thought it was worthwhile tto mention in order to drive a wedge between the two of them Such high school rumor mongering in fact seems ubiquitous here, and is nearly always traced to someone at the top carrying out some scheme Another kind of sabotage was even less subtle After assigning SIGTARP the worst office in the Treasury building, one that reeks of eggs and fish, a classic Washington put down, Secretary Paulson goes farther by making it almost impossible for SIGTARP to acquire garbage cans Instead they have to collect their own garbage and pile it up on cafeteria trays Of course government regulations prohibited them from acquiring any cans for months without putting out bids, UNLESS they acquired them from other government agencies, who therefore knew to descend on his office like door to door salesmen to sell him everything from over priced printer toner to cheap chairs He and the reader had to wonder, where did they get all this stuff to sell Through the madness, though, Barofsky keeps his perspective The one point where you think he may have lost it, when he starts fuming over the fact that an acting agency head gets to speak before him at a congressional hearing, against the established speaking hierarchy, his wife points out to him that he is finally beginning to absorb the Washington atmosphere, and it is then he decides that he has to resign The reader has to be relieved.There s lots of other great little Washington tidbits here How he gets given 50 million dollars to set up an office but can t hire anyone for months because of government regulations, or how the mis titled Paperwork Reduction act causes a scuffle between him and the White House that forces him to go through Congress and the press to get a typical waiver So if you want to know why Washington is different from almost every other place in the country, this is the book to go to


  3. Athan Tolis Athan Tolis says:

    As much fun as you can possibly have finding out about the inner workings of government.Not much, then, but still an awesome account This is a book about two friends who took on the Washington establishment and lost But they won enough battles along the way to make this a fun read.Neil Barofsky had a very strong background to become the inspector general of TARP However, he took a bit too long to realise TARP was but a thinly veiled vehicle to shore up the capital of America s biggest banks a As much fun as you can possibly have finding out about the inner workings of government.Not much, then, but still an awesome account This is a book about two friends who took on the Washington establishment and lost But they won enough battles along the way to make this a fun read.Neil Barofsky had a very strong background to become the inspector general of TARP However, he took a bit too long to realise TARP was but a thinly veiled vehicle to shore up the capital of America s biggest banks and their trading counterparties Thankfully, this made him evendetermined to act.So him and his deputy spent a long time fighting the good fight and gave their best There s good guys in the book and there s villains But the author recognizes that everybody has a role and most were acting in a manner consistent with their principles He bemoans the manner in which Neil Kashkari stonewalled him, for instance, but fully recognizes that they simply came to the problem from a different angle.An exception is made for Tim Geithner, who is not profiled in a terribly flattering way, but that is starting to be rather consistent in the literature that surrounds the bailouts That said, the author a Democrat leaves the door open to the notion that Geithner may have been doing the dirtywork for the White House We ll never know.My beliefs are not aligned with the author s I have sympathy for the Neil Kashkari argument that all money is green which seems to give Neil Barofsky the hives and I most certainly don t share in the author s pity for all the guys who took out a mortgage they could not afford on a house they could not afford On the other hand, of course, I totally agree that the whole idea behind TARP and the deference given to the banks was an abomination And the author s account leaves zero doubt in my mind that the public was horribly misled by HAMP and the rest of the programs Finally, as a citizen I ve found from the horse s mouth that contrary to the stories I ve read in the paper TARP did not make the advertized returns.But that is not the point at all I thoroughly enjoyed the book because it is a deep, insightful and fascinating account of how Washington works To get an account like that you need a guy who s been there, who s managed to get out and who has the gift of writing well.Neil Barofsky scores on all those fronts He lays out the history, he presents the characters and keeps developing them during the story, he has a good laugh and managed to force plenty out of me too He took the job seriously, did it as well as he could and thankfully he got a chance to tell us about it.I ve read a good five books on the bailout, from Stiglitz to Sorkin and this is the one I d recommend to my dad if he asked


  4. Robert Robert says:

    Even though by now we know most what Neil Barofsky packs into his book, Bailout How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street, it remains worth reading as an in depth, consolidated account of how the Bush and Obama administrations pretended to be supporting overwhelmed home owners while pumping hundreds of billions into America s top heavy financial system, led by big banks that have only grown since they helped generate the deepest recession we have known since the Great De Even though by now we know most what Neil Barofsky packs into his book, Bailout How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street, it remains worth reading as an in depth, consolidated account of how the Bush and Obama administrations pretended to be supporting overwhelmed home owners while pumping hundreds of billions into America s top heavy financial system, led by big banks that have only grown since they helped generate the deepest recession we have known since the Great Depression Barofsky was a deputy U.S attorney in New York when he was asked, though a Democrat, to become Special Inspector General for the Troubled Assets Relief Program TARP He didn t want to accept he didn t see himself in Washington he didn t like Washington but he was given a God and Country speech and he succumbed For the next 18 months or so, he entered the bowels of the Treasury Department and the hallways of Congress, trying to ensure that the 800 TARP kitty did its job for U.S taxpayers He soon realized that Treasury Secretaries Hank Paulson and his successor, Tim Geithner, weren t focused on homeowners or taxpayers Their concern was the likes of JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, CitiGroup, and so on Economic historians will long debate whether this unstated focus was essential to preventing global financial collapse But what s clear from Bailout, and lots of similar reporting, is that the little guy Not Too Small To Fail took it on the chin as the megabanks grew, their debts were honored, and their executives richly rewarded for soaking up Treasury s largesse in the form of gigantic bonuses In one sense Bailout is a personal tale Barofsky recounts being patted on the back and kicked in the shins he retells stories of his Treasury and White House colleagues lying about him for political advantange and he is open about his anger and disdain without losing his sense of humor So this is a readable book, almost a fun book But there are two additional dimensions of Bailout I would highlight First, it s a pessmistic book despite Barofsky s wit and innate optimism It takes us inside a huge financial crash whose origins have not yet been addressed We are still at the mercy of banks and other nonfinancial institutions making risky, greedy bets that force us to save them or bring down the whole house of cards The Dodd Frank financial reform law that was supposed to address this problem didn t do so The bad guys and their lobbyists won Wall Streeters tell us that we may have been smart enough to see them with no clothes on a few years ago, but they re still better at forecasting the financial future than we are lots better despite all evidence to the contrary So we should regulate them lightly and shrink them not a bit Second, back in the days of the Cold War, there was a term, moral equivalence, that came up in the context of global debates about who was truly evil, capitalists or communists I thought about that term last week as I sat through a presentation Barofsky made, recounting his early days as a prosecutor focused on Colombian narcotraffickers and then his latter days as an inspector general trying to combat misguided policies and outright crooks in the US financial sector which has laundered a lot of drug money, by the way I asked him if he saw any equivalence between drug lords and Wall Street lords He said no, the drug lords were violent beasts true and the Wall Street lords, while some were crooks and convicted for their crookedness, often were geniuinely persuaded of their patriotism, or at least not torturers and kidnappers This was an equable response, a fair response, an indication that Barofsky could see different points of view, even when he was in disagreement But I wonder about the misery and humiliation and family destruction experienced at the hands of Wall Street lords by millions of Americans I ve been in the room with both the tiny and the titans The titans are not, as far as I ve seen, four hundred to a thousand timescritical to the nation s economic welfare than average workers They re not that much smarter They re just lucky, crafty, and full of self righteousness A nonfiction book like this, when written from a personal perspective, provides lots of fiction like insight Bailout is a standout in this regard because Barofsky, by Washington standards, is one of the most open, unguarded truth tellers I ve come across I ve been in and out of Washington for thirty years My favorite anecdote is Tim Geithner, who managed not to pay a few years worth of taxes due to a statute of limitations, being asked if he had made any mistakes in implementing the 800 billion TARP fund Geithner replied The only real mistake that I can think of was that there were times when we were unnecessarily unsure of ourselves We should have realized at the time just how right each of our decisions were Wow Pure idiocy Barofsky and others have documented in extenso Geithner s misjudgments, questionable maneuvers, and failed policies and programs Guess Geithner was too busy being right to read about how wrong he was Final note We re a fabulously rich country If 800 billion isn t well spent or on target or doesn t meet the needs of the hardest hit, I suppose we can survive The deeper problem is moral Can we survive the judgment of our leaders that shoring up out of control financial institutions and their obscenely compensated executives isimportant than doing right by Main Street Can we recover trust in a government that happily misleads us as its top officials prepare to scamper through the revolving door from Washington to Wall Street And what about the permanent politicians in Washington who serve at the pleasure of the plutocrats These realities are demoralizing they erode the foundations of a strong democracy Barofsky concludes that he wrote Bailout in anger It s a good book It hits hard It tells the truth But I still wonder about the moral equivalence question How did we end up with not only banks that are too big to fail but also bankers too big to jail Forof my comments on contemporary books, see Tuppence Reviews Kindle


  5. Eric Murphy Eric Murphy says:

    A non ideological look at how the bailout was a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers to Wall Street banks assisted by both administrations Treasury Departments that vindicates equally the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, written by the top official in charge of policing fraud in the bailout program The conclusion says it all I now realize that the American people should lose faith in their government They should deplore the captured politicians and regulators who took their taxp A non ideological look at how the bailout was a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers to Wall Street banks assisted by both administrations Treasury Departments that vindicates equally the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, written by the top official in charge of policing fraud in the bailout program The conclusion says it all I now realize that the American people should lose faith in their government They should deplore the captured politicians and regulators who took their taxpayer dollars and distributed them to the banks without insisting that they be accountable for how the bailout money was spent They should be revolted by a financial system that rewards failure and protects the fortunes of those who drove the system to the point of collapse and will undoubtedly do so again They should be enraged by the broken promises to Main Street and the unending protection of Wall Street Because only with this appropriate and justified rage can we sow the seeds for the types of reform that will one day break our system free from the corrupting grasp of the megabanks


  6. Erik Graff Erik Graff says:

    This distressing book, authored by the former Inspector General in charge of overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program that followed our last depression, is easier to read than one might think, Barofsky nesting his discussion of economic issues in an engaging narrative description of his years in Washington, D.C What one learns, overall, is that national politics is substantially dominated by the largest financial institutions This was as true during the Bush administration as during Obama This distressing book, authored by the former Inspector General in charge of overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program that followed our last depression, is easier to read than one might think, Barofsky nesting his discussion of economic issues in an engaging narrative description of his years in Washington, D.C What one learns, overall, is that national politics is substantially dominated by the largest financial institutions This was as true during the Bush administration as during Obama s no great surprise given the primary sources of the latter s campaign financing In the end, Congress will do nothing unless a mass movementpowerful than the Tea Party or Occupy forces their hand


  7. Bart Bart says:

    Everyone should read this book TV s HBO ought to amend the end phrasing of Too Big to Fail where they state TARP funds have been repaid and instruct Sorkin to write Treasury s criminal acts into the story line of his new Newsroom series The US Treasury ought to be dismantled by revolution as they represent an extension of the worst kind of human nature and a deadly sin There is no long term strategy in a democracy of election cycles where only the legal and banking systems persevere and Everyone should read this book TV s HBO ought to amend the end phrasing of Too Big to Fail where they state TARP funds have been repaid and instruct Sorkin to write Treasury s criminal acts into the story line of his new Newsroom series The US Treasury ought to be dismantled by revolution as they represent an extension of the worst kind of human nature and a deadly sin There is no long term strategy in a democracy of election cycles where only the legal and banking systems persevere and the legal system is made toothless by bureaucratic proxy


  8. Al Al says:

    Mr Barofsky, a young prosecutor in the New York U S Attorney s office, was drafted to be the Treasury s Inspector General of the TARP funds His book details his idealistic approach to his work, his initial naivete about the ways of Washington and the motivations of many of its denizens, and his efforts to cut through the misinformation, foolishness, and outright lies of the agency he monitored Clearly, he brought to the table an intelligence, toughness, and sense of responsibility that few Mr Barofsky, a young prosecutor in the New York U S Attorney s office, was drafted to be the Treasury s Inspector General of the TARP funds His book details his idealistic approach to his work, his initial naivete about the ways of Washington and the motivations of many of its denizens, and his efforts to cut through the misinformation, foolishness, and outright lies of the agency he monitored Clearly, he brought to the table an intelligence, toughness, and sense of responsibility that few others would have, and many of his accomplishments helped shed light on some very poor decisions and practices at Treasury His disrespect of senior Treasury officials, including most specifically Secretary Geithner, is deep and well justified Still, there is nothing in the narrative about how and why Geithner made his decisions, and what pressure he was under from Obama, Summers and others Therefore, Barofsky s story begs the question of who was really calling the shots which he is rightly decrying Other books have explored this question, and it seems pretty clear that Geithner was way over his head in his job, and if one connects the dots, most of responsibility for the failures of TARP and the whole bailout process which Barofsky catalogues probably can be laid at the feet of the President and his advisors No assessment of Geithner which I ve seen leads me to believe he was doing or was capable of doing much but trying to stay afloat Small wonder that Barofsky, a straight shooter, was so upset by what he saw, but a shame that he wasn t in a position to see the whole picture I don t agree with all Barofsky s positions for example, he s not persuasive in dismissing moral hazard as a serious issue when thinking about whether to modify mortgages for underwater borrowers , but for the most part he s on the money The story he tells is interesting, well written and extremely damaging to the Obama administration in general and the Treasury Department in particular


  9. Schnaucl Schnaucl says:

    If you re interested in the bailout rather than how we got into this crisis in the first place you should definitely read this book I ve been doing a lot of reading about the crisis and the aftermath, but there was still a lot that was new to me I hadn t realized just how disorganized Treasury was or how involved the White House was in covering Treasury s ass at the expense of the taxpayers Apparently the real purpose of HAMP wasn t to help homeowners at all, but to slow down the defaults to If you re interested in the bailout rather than how we got into this crisis in the first place you should definitely read this book I ve been doing a lot of reading about the crisis and the aftermath, but there was still a lot that was new to me I hadn t realized just how disorganized Treasury was or how involved the White House was in covering Treasury s ass at the expense of the taxpayers Apparently the real purpose of HAMP wasn t to help homeowners at all, but to slow down the defaults to spread out the pain for the banks That s why the modifications didn t reduce the principle and the modifications expire in five years I d heard that Congress wanted to bail out main street but this book did a good job of actually showing it TARP and other programs were approved by Congress because they were supposed to bail out main street and as soon as the bills were passed Treasury abandoned that aspect The fact that TARP funds were generally paid back with money the banks borrowed from different government programs is something I knew but that I wish was better known by the general public


  10. Al Al says:

    In this bracing, page turning account of his stranger than fiction baptism into the corrupted ways of Washington, Neil Barofsky offers an irrefutable indictment, from an insider of the Bush and Obama administrations, of the mishandling of the 700 billion TARP bailout fund In vivid behind the scenes detail, he reveals proof of the extreme degree to which our government officials bent over backward to serve the interests of Wall Street firms at the expense of the broader public and at the exp


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10 thoughts on “Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street

  1. William Thomas William Thomas says:

    Behold, Neil Barofsky is the Second Coming of Christ Witness as he is led into the temple and overturns the money changers tables Watch as he is nearly crucified in Columbia Gaze at the pinnacle of moral superiority in a corrupt world Jesus H Christ This book is nothingthan an autobiography of Barofsky s life over the last 10 years or so It is not, as billed, a history of, nor a socio political analysis of, nor a thorough examination of the bailouts it claims to be Instead, what we Behold, Neil Barofsky is the Second Coming of Christ Witness as he is led into the temple and overturns the money changers tables Watch as he is nearly crucified in Columbia Gaze at the pinnacle of moral superiority in a corrupt world Jesus H Christ This book is nothingthan an autobiography of Barofsky s life over the last 10 years or so It is not, as billed, a history of, nor a socio political analysis of, nor a thorough examination of the bailouts it claims to be Instead, what we get here is Barofsky trying to clear his name for posterity and so that history cannot label him a monster in the wake of this catastrophe It s basically 300 pages of him trying to cover his ass and martyr himself while redirecting all blame to a myriad of other Capitol Hill players What irked me most about this book The fact that Barofsky plays the doe eyed babe in the woods here, just a plain old guy getting ground to dust by the bureaucracy, and appalled by the immorality of those around him If we are to believe Barofsky, he is the pinnacle of morality, not only in DC, but in NYC and any other place he sets foot Wherever he goes, he walks on water Not only that, but before becoming the GIC of Oversight for TARP, he only ever worked for people who were as moral as he and could teach him to be evenrighteous Now, any man working as a lawyer in a major metropolitan area, or for the federal government, cannot be, by definition, a babe in the woods Not the lost and wandering naive man he claims to have been The man openly admits to taking on the largest drug cartel in the world Does this sound like a country bumpkin that doesn t know his way around a big city Poor Neil, you were just a straw man, weren t you Poor baby But wait That s not right You were a shark when you were dropped into the oversight job Don t try to play dumb with us The gall of this man just burns me up On top of that, there isn t even enough actual information about the bailout in this book to fill a New Yorker article, let alone this book Anything reported in these pages has been public knowledge for years now It isn t anything you can t find out from CNN reports or the NYT But, if you want to knowabout the martyred Second Coming of Christ, the moral apex of the US and the end of a political career trying to be saved for posterity, well then go right ahead and read this, Neil Barofsky s autobiography


  2. Frank Stein Frank Stein says:

    One of the best descriptions of Washington I have ever read.To start off I have to say that, despite the title, the least interesting parts of the book are actually those in which Neil Barofsky, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program SIGTARP , describes the intricacies of how the Treasury, under both Bush and Obama, shoveledmoney to undeserving firms, granted banks unnecessary tax privileges, and exacerbated the foreclosure crisis with poorly designed programs One of the best descriptions of Washington I have ever read.To start off I have to say that, despite the title, the least interesting parts of the book are actually those in which Neil Barofsky, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program SIGTARP , describes the intricacies of how the Treasury, under both Bush and Obama, shoveledmoney to undeserving firms, granted banks unnecessary tax privileges, and exacerbated the foreclosure crisis with poorly designed programs like HAMP Thanks at least partially to Barofsky s work as SIGTARP, from whence he provided oversight for the 700 billion dollar bank bailout, those stories have been told many times before What is truly original here is Barofsky s insightful and refreshingly honest look at Washington machinations This is not a tale of grand corruption, of unmarked bags of cash and under the table briefcases that Oliver Stone or some other director would have us imagine This is instead a story of how pettiness and childish ceremonies of power and privilege corrupt the personalities of those who work in a constantly political world Unlike most strivers in DC, though, Barofsky seems remarkably immune from Potomac Fever, and thus keeps a sharp eye for the ridiculous protocols that define a place that remains foreign but fascinating to him He and his deputy, who both came to DC from the Office, the US Attorney s Office of the Southern District of New York, are always rushing to each other to explain the newest hilarious strategy by Paulson or Geithner to undermine whomever they ve decided to oppose for the moment For instance, at one point a Treasury employee stops Barofsky in the hall to claim that Elizabeth Warren really hates him, and is really jealous of him, something he knows is not true since he just talked to her, but that someone in Treasury clearly thought it was worthwhile tto mention in order to drive a wedge between the two of them Such high school rumor mongering in fact seems ubiquitous here, and is nearly always traced to someone at the top carrying out some scheme Another kind of sabotage was even less subtle After assigning SIGTARP the worst office in the Treasury building, one that reeks of eggs and fish, a classic Washington put down, Secretary Paulson goes farther by making it almost impossible for SIGTARP to acquire garbage cans Instead they have to collect their own garbage and pile it up on cafeteria trays Of course government regulations prohibited them from acquiring any cans for months without putting out bids, UNLESS they acquired them from other government agencies, who therefore knew to descend on his office like door to door salesmen to sell him everything from over priced printer toner to cheap chairs He and the reader had to wonder, where did they get all this stuff to sell Through the madness, though, Barofsky keeps his perspective The one point where you think he may have lost it, when he starts fuming over the fact that an acting agency head gets to speak before him at a congressional hearing, against the established speaking hierarchy, his wife points out to him that he is finally beginning to absorb the Washington atmosphere, and it is then he decides that he has to resign The reader has to be relieved.There s lots of other great little Washington tidbits here How he gets given 50 million dollars to set up an office but can t hire anyone for months because of government regulations, or how the mis titled Paperwork Reduction act causes a scuffle between him and the White House that forces him to go through Congress and the press to get a typical waiver So if you want to know why Washington is different from almost every other place in the country, this is the book to go to


  3. Athan Tolis Athan Tolis says:

    As much fun as you can possibly have finding out about the inner workings of government.Not much, then, but still an awesome account This is a book about two friends who took on the Washington establishment and lost But they won enough battles along the way to make this a fun read.Neil Barofsky had a very strong background to become the inspector general of TARP However, he took a bit too long to realise TARP was but a thinly veiled vehicle to shore up the capital of America s biggest banks a As much fun as you can possibly have finding out about the inner workings of government.Not much, then, but still an awesome account This is a book about two friends who took on the Washington establishment and lost But they won enough battles along the way to make this a fun read.Neil Barofsky had a very strong background to become the inspector general of TARP However, he took a bit too long to realise TARP was but a thinly veiled vehicle to shore up the capital of America s biggest banks and their trading counterparties Thankfully, this made him evendetermined to act.So him and his deputy spent a long time fighting the good fight and gave their best There s good guys in the book and there s villains But the author recognizes that everybody has a role and most were acting in a manner consistent with their principles He bemoans the manner in which Neil Kashkari stonewalled him, for instance, but fully recognizes that they simply came to the problem from a different angle.An exception is made for Tim Geithner, who is not profiled in a terribly flattering way, but that is starting to be rather consistent in the literature that surrounds the bailouts That said, the author a Democrat leaves the door open to the notion that Geithner may have been doing the dirtywork for the White House We ll never know.My beliefs are not aligned with the author s I have sympathy for the Neil Kashkari argument that all money is green which seems to give Neil Barofsky the hives and I most certainly don t share in the author s pity for all the guys who took out a mortgage they could not afford on a house they could not afford On the other hand, of course, I totally agree that the whole idea behind TARP and the deference given to the banks was an abomination And the author s account leaves zero doubt in my mind that the public was horribly misled by HAMP and the rest of the programs Finally, as a citizen I ve found from the horse s mouth that contrary to the stories I ve read in the paper TARP did not make the advertized returns.But that is not the point at all I thoroughly enjoyed the book because it is a deep, insightful and fascinating account of how Washington works To get an account like that you need a guy who s been there, who s managed to get out and who has the gift of writing well.Neil Barofsky scores on all those fronts He lays out the history, he presents the characters and keeps developing them during the story, he has a good laugh and managed to force plenty out of me too He took the job seriously, did it as well as he could and thankfully he got a chance to tell us about it.I ve read a good five books on the bailout, from Stiglitz to Sorkin and this is the one I d recommend to my dad if he asked


  4. Robert Robert says:

    Even though by now we know most what Neil Barofsky packs into his book, Bailout How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street, it remains worth reading as an in depth, consolidated account of how the Bush and Obama administrations pretended to be supporting overwhelmed home owners while pumping hundreds of billions into America s top heavy financial system, led by big banks that have only grown since they helped generate the deepest recession we have known since the Great De Even though by now we know most what Neil Barofsky packs into his book, Bailout How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street, it remains worth reading as an in depth, consolidated account of how the Bush and Obama administrations pretended to be supporting overwhelmed home owners while pumping hundreds of billions into America s top heavy financial system, led by big banks that have only grown since they helped generate the deepest recession we have known since the Great Depression Barofsky was a deputy U.S attorney in New York when he was asked, though a Democrat, to become Special Inspector General for the Troubled Assets Relief Program TARP He didn t want to accept he didn t see himself in Washington he didn t like Washington but he was given a God and Country speech and he succumbed For the next 18 months or so, he entered the bowels of the Treasury Department and the hallways of Congress, trying to ensure that the 800 TARP kitty did its job for U.S taxpayers He soon realized that Treasury Secretaries Hank Paulson and his successor, Tim Geithner, weren t focused on homeowners or taxpayers Their concern was the likes of JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, CitiGroup, and so on Economic historians will long debate whether this unstated focus was essential to preventing global financial collapse But what s clear from Bailout, and lots of similar reporting, is that the little guy Not Too Small To Fail took it on the chin as the megabanks grew, their debts were honored, and their executives richly rewarded for soaking up Treasury s largesse in the form of gigantic bonuses In one sense Bailout is a personal tale Barofsky recounts being patted on the back and kicked in the shins he retells stories of his Treasury and White House colleagues lying about him for political advantange and he is open about his anger and disdain without losing his sense of humor So this is a readable book, almost a fun book But there are two additional dimensions of Bailout I would highlight First, it s a pessmistic book despite Barofsky s wit and innate optimism It takes us inside a huge financial crash whose origins have not yet been addressed We are still at the mercy of banks and other nonfinancial institutions making risky, greedy bets that force us to save them or bring down the whole house of cards The Dodd Frank financial reform law that was supposed to address this problem didn t do so The bad guys and their lobbyists won Wall Streeters tell us that we may have been smart enough to see them with no clothes on a few years ago, but they re still better at forecasting the financial future than we are lots better despite all evidence to the contrary So we should regulate them lightly and shrink them not a bit Second, back in the days of the Cold War, there was a term, moral equivalence, that came up in the context of global debates about who was truly evil, capitalists or communists I thought about that term last week as I sat through a presentation Barofsky made, recounting his early days as a prosecutor focused on Colombian narcotraffickers and then his latter days as an inspector general trying to combat misguided policies and outright crooks in the US financial sector which has laundered a lot of drug money, by the way I asked him if he saw any equivalence between drug lords and Wall Street lords He said no, the drug lords were violent beasts true and the Wall Street lords, while some were crooks and convicted for their crookedness, often were geniuinely persuaded of their patriotism, or at least not torturers and kidnappers This was an equable response, a fair response, an indication that Barofsky could see different points of view, even when he was in disagreement But I wonder about the misery and humiliation and family destruction experienced at the hands of Wall Street lords by millions of Americans I ve been in the room with both the tiny and the titans The titans are not, as far as I ve seen, four hundred to a thousand timescritical to the nation s economic welfare than average workers They re not that much smarter They re just lucky, crafty, and full of self righteousness A nonfiction book like this, when written from a personal perspective, provides lots of fiction like insight Bailout is a standout in this regard because Barofsky, by Washington standards, is one of the most open, unguarded truth tellers I ve come across I ve been in and out of Washington for thirty years My favorite anecdote is Tim Geithner, who managed not to pay a few years worth of taxes due to a statute of limitations, being asked if he had made any mistakes in implementing the 800 billion TARP fund Geithner replied The only real mistake that I can think of was that there were times when we were unnecessarily unsure of ourselves We should have realized at the time just how right each of our decisions were Wow Pure idiocy Barofsky and others have documented in extenso Geithner s misjudgments, questionable maneuvers, and failed policies and programs Guess Geithner was too busy being right to read about how wrong he was Final note We re a fabulously rich country If 800 billion isn t well spent or on target or doesn t meet the needs of the hardest hit, I suppose we can survive The deeper problem is moral Can we survive the judgment of our leaders that shoring up out of control financial institutions and their obscenely compensated executives isimportant than doing right by Main Street Can we recover trust in a government that happily misleads us as its top officials prepare to scamper through the revolving door from Washington to Wall Street And what about the permanent politicians in Washington who serve at the pleasure of the plutocrats These realities are demoralizing they erode the foundations of a strong democracy Barofsky concludes that he wrote Bailout in anger It s a good book It hits hard It tells the truth But I still wonder about the moral equivalence question How did we end up with not only banks that are too big to fail but also bankers too big to jail Forof my comments on contemporary books, see Tuppence Reviews Kindle


  5. Eric Murphy Eric Murphy says:

    A non ideological look at how the bailout was a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers to Wall Street banks assisted by both administrations Treasury Departments that vindicates equally the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, written by the top official in charge of policing fraud in the bailout program The conclusion says it all I now realize that the American people should lose faith in their government They should deplore the captured politicians and regulators who took their taxp A non ideological look at how the bailout was a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers to Wall Street banks assisted by both administrations Treasury Departments that vindicates equally the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, written by the top official in charge of policing fraud in the bailout program The conclusion says it all I now realize that the American people should lose faith in their government They should deplore the captured politicians and regulators who took their taxpayer dollars and distributed them to the banks without insisting that they be accountable for how the bailout money was spent They should be revolted by a financial system that rewards failure and protects the fortunes of those who drove the system to the point of collapse and will undoubtedly do so again They should be enraged by the broken promises to Main Street and the unending protection of Wall Street Because only with this appropriate and justified rage can we sow the seeds for the types of reform that will one day break our system free from the corrupting grasp of the megabanks


  6. Erik Graff Erik Graff says:

    This distressing book, authored by the former Inspector General in charge of overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program that followed our last depression, is easier to read than one might think, Barofsky nesting his discussion of economic issues in an engaging narrative description of his years in Washington, D.C What one learns, overall, is that national politics is substantially dominated by the largest financial institutions This was as true during the Bush administration as during Obama This distressing book, authored by the former Inspector General in charge of overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program that followed our last depression, is easier to read than one might think, Barofsky nesting his discussion of economic issues in an engaging narrative description of his years in Washington, D.C What one learns, overall, is that national politics is substantially dominated by the largest financial institutions This was as true during the Bush administration as during Obama s no great surprise given the primary sources of the latter s campaign financing In the end, Congress will do nothing unless a mass movementpowerful than the Tea Party or Occupy forces their hand


  7. Bart Bart says:

    Everyone should read this book TV s HBO ought to amend the end phrasing of Too Big to Fail where they state TARP funds have been repaid and instruct Sorkin to write Treasury s criminal acts into the story line of his new Newsroom series The US Treasury ought to be dismantled by revolution as they represent an extension of the worst kind of human nature and a deadly sin There is no long term strategy in a democracy of election cycles where only the legal and banking systems persevere and Everyone should read this book TV s HBO ought to amend the end phrasing of Too Big to Fail where they state TARP funds have been repaid and instruct Sorkin to write Treasury s criminal acts into the story line of his new Newsroom series The US Treasury ought to be dismantled by revolution as they represent an extension of the worst kind of human nature and a deadly sin There is no long term strategy in a democracy of election cycles where only the legal and banking systems persevere and the legal system is made toothless by bureaucratic proxy


  8. Al Al says:

    Mr Barofsky, a young prosecutor in the New York U S Attorney s office, was drafted to be the Treasury s Inspector General of the TARP funds His book details his idealistic approach to his work, his initial naivete about the ways of Washington and the motivations of many of its denizens, and his efforts to cut through the misinformation, foolishness, and outright lies of the agency he monitored Clearly, he brought to the table an intelligence, toughness, and sense of responsibility that few Mr Barofsky, a young prosecutor in the New York U S Attorney s office, was drafted to be the Treasury s Inspector General of the TARP funds His book details his idealistic approach to his work, his initial naivete about the ways of Washington and the motivations of many of its denizens, and his efforts to cut through the misinformation, foolishness, and outright lies of the agency he monitored Clearly, he brought to the table an intelligence, toughness, and sense of responsibility that few others would have, and many of his accomplishments helped shed light on some very poor decisions and practices at Treasury His disrespect of senior Treasury officials, including most specifically Secretary Geithner, is deep and well justified Still, there is nothing in the narrative about how and why Geithner made his decisions, and what pressure he was under from Obama, Summers and others Therefore, Barofsky s story begs the question of who was really calling the shots which he is rightly decrying Other books have explored this question, and it seems pretty clear that Geithner was way over his head in his job, and if one connects the dots, most of responsibility for the failures of TARP and the whole bailout process which Barofsky catalogues probably can be laid at the feet of the President and his advisors No assessment of Geithner which I ve seen leads me to believe he was doing or was capable of doing much but trying to stay afloat Small wonder that Barofsky, a straight shooter, was so upset by what he saw, but a shame that he wasn t in a position to see the whole picture I don t agree with all Barofsky s positions for example, he s not persuasive in dismissing moral hazard as a serious issue when thinking about whether to modify mortgages for underwater borrowers , but for the most part he s on the money The story he tells is interesting, well written and extremely damaging to the Obama administration in general and the Treasury Department in particular


  9. Schnaucl Schnaucl says:

    If you re interested in the bailout rather than how we got into this crisis in the first place you should definitely read this book I ve been doing a lot of reading about the crisis and the aftermath, but there was still a lot that was new to me I hadn t realized just how disorganized Treasury was or how involved the White House was in covering Treasury s ass at the expense of the taxpayers Apparently the real purpose of HAMP wasn t to help homeowners at all, but to slow down the defaults to If you re interested in the bailout rather than how we got into this crisis in the first place you should definitely read this book I ve been doing a lot of reading about the crisis and the aftermath, but there was still a lot that was new to me I hadn t realized just how disorganized Treasury was or how involved the White House was in covering Treasury s ass at the expense of the taxpayers Apparently the real purpose of HAMP wasn t to help homeowners at all, but to slow down the defaults to spread out the pain for the banks That s why the modifications didn t reduce the principle and the modifications expire in five years I d heard that Congress wanted to bail out main street but this book did a good job of actually showing it TARP and other programs were approved by Congress because they were supposed to bail out main street and as soon as the bills were passed Treasury abandoned that aspect The fact that TARP funds were generally paid back with money the banks borrowed from different government programs is something I knew but that I wish was better known by the general public


  10. Al Al says:

    In this bracing, page turning account of his stranger than fiction baptism into the corrupted ways of Washington, Neil Barofsky offers an irrefutable indictment, from an insider of the Bush and Obama administrations, of the mishandling of the 700 billion TARP bailout fund In vivid behind the scenes detail, he reveals proof of the extreme degree to which our government officials bent over backward to serve the interests of Wall Street firms at the expense of the broader public and at the exp


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