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Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street [Kindle Edition]

Neil Barofsky
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (259 customer reviews)

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Kindle Price: $13.99
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Book Description

In this riveting account of the mishandling of the TARP bailout fund, a former federal prosecutor offers behind-the-scenes proof of the corrupt ways Washington officials serve the interests of Wall Street.

In this bracing, page-turning account of his stranger-than-fiction baptism into the corrupted ways of Washington, Neil Barofsky offers an irrefutable insider indictment of the mishandling of the $700 billion TARP bailout fund. During the height of the financial crisis in 2008, Barofsky gave up his job in the esteemed US Attorney’s Office in New York City to become the special inspector general overseeing the spending of the bailout money. But from day one his efforts to protect against fraud and to hold the big banks accountable were met with outright hostility from Treasury officials. Bailout is a riveting account of Barofsky’s plunge into the political meat grinder of Washington, and a vital revelation of just how captured by Wall Street our political system is and why the banks have only become bigger and more dangerous in the wake of the crisis.

Editorial Reviews


Bailout is a jaw-dropping play-by-play of how the Treasury Department bungled the financial bailouts… With a prosecutor's logic and copious footnotes, Barofsky makes it clear things are rarely what they seem in Washington.”

USA Today

“[Bailout] is an interesting behind-the-scenes account of how Washington tried to save the economy… [and] an enjoyable tale of how a prosecutor of Colombian drug gangs got drafted for the thankless task of policing a $700 billion bailout from a dank basement office of the Treasury.”


“[An] everyman account of the pervasive cynicism and insider-dealing of the D.C. establishment.”

The American Spectator

“[One] of our favorite business books so far this year…The former special inspector general policing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program lifts the lid on the U.S. Treasury and settles scores… [an] illuminating memoir.”

Bloomberg Businessweek

“A damning indictment of the Obama administration's execution of the TARP program.”

Washington Examiner

“A quick, intense, read.”

Business Insider

“[Barofsky] set out to account for the TARP spending in a transparent, nonpartisan manner. However, as he demonstrates in his energetically written first-person account, he and his staff met resistance every time they tried to share the truth with Congress, the White House and the American public… a courageous, insightful book that offers no cause for optimism.”

Kirkus (starred review)

“Blistering in its assessment of the Treasury Department's handling of the bailouts.”

Huffington Post

“In his scathing new book, Barofsky says taxpayers got shafted while the rich got richer… a true expose…. Taxpayers who feel helpless in the midst of the extended economic recession are likely to feel energized to metaphorically blow up the system after reading Barofsky’s account.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“[An] explosive account of the mishandling of the Troubled Asset Relief Program funds.”

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

About the Author

Neil Barofsky is currently a Senior Fellow at NYU Law School. From November 2008 until February 2011, he was the Special Inspector General in charge of oversight of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Before that he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. This is his first book.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2029 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00BNFFNK8
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (July 24, 2012)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00818J57W
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,880 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
178 of 203 people found the following review helpful
In the last couple of months, I've read and reviewed another book by a former Goldman Sacks banker who also thought the Wall Street banks had gone to heck in a hand basket. In his book, "Survival Investing: How to Prosper Amid Thieving Banks and Corrupt Governments," John Talbott entitled one of the chapters "Corruption In The Banks" and another one "Only an Idiot Would Lend to a Sovereign Government." At that time I thought maybe that author was just spewing "sour grapes" over some unknown experiences in his own past. Not any more. This book by Neil Barofsky the Special Presidential Inspector General for TARP, makes it clear John Talbott's opinions of the mess corruption has made of the banking system was right on the mark.
In "Bailout" Neil Brofsky, who was in a position to know the facts, documents his own 19-month tenure trying to clean up some of the messes created by the much too cozy relationships between Wall Street and government. More importantly he points out that the government is so big that its a bureaucracy within bureaucracies that can't do anything but grow and spend more money. The only real cure would be to take meat clever to the bureacracy and cut it down to a size that might actually be able to serve the citizens of America.
This expose is clearly described and documented in a dozen chapters with titles such as "Fraud 101, Hank Wants to Make It Work, The Lapdog, the Watchdog and the Junkyard Dog, I Won't Lie for You, Drinking the Wall Street Kool-Aid, The worst Thing That happens, We Go Back Home, By Wall Street for Wall Street, Foaming the Runway, The Audacity of Math, The Essential $7,700 Kitchen Assistant, Treasury's Backseat Driver, Happy Endings" and an "afterword, and detailed Notes and Index section. Its easy, but maddening reading.
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
Neil Barofsky oversaw the $700 billion dollar TARP program as the Special United States Treasury Department Inspector General. Barofsky, a democrat, was appointed by Bush and saw no difference between that administration and the Obama administration with regard to their deferential treatment of the big banks.

No strings were attached to the money. Top bankers used it to pay record bonuses, among other things. The magnitude of riches bestowed upon these elites stirs the imagination of witnesses such as Barofsky, who can't seem to get over it. It was the largest single transfer of wealth in our nation's history.

This book demonstrates a deep and continuing bias to favor large banks, especially by the Treasury Department. It doesn't matter which party holds the administrative branch. Stated goals of giving money straight to the banks included to get lending going again. Yet nothing was done to tie money freely given to banks to any performance in lending. In large part because of this, foreclosures even now continue unabated and people cannot readily sell their homes yet.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner looks really bad in this book. He's basically portrayed as top squeezer of homeowners through concentrated use of deflation. Personally I didn't understand any motive for Geithner to deliberately squeeze families. Rather, I suspect the squeeze had to happen if the big bankers were to maximally benefit at the time. In other words, it seemed to me that homeowners were just in the wrong place and the wrong time, victims of the larger economic-political system.

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered."
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A trip to the sausage factory July 29, 2012
Of the myriad books written about different aspects of the financial meltdown, "Bailout" does a better job than many of making the financial complexities clear to the average reader. He also makes it painfully clear -- if it wasn't already -- that those with whom we entrust the most important decisions affecting our lives are not always interested in whether our lives go well or not. Never mind what they say when the cameras are present. By taking us through his tenure as "fraud cop" while TARP money was being doled out -- rarely for the purposes it was sold to the public as -- Barofsky wants to wake us up, make us angry, make us more likely to pay attention as voters to the democracy we empower.

Does Barofsky make himself (and a few others) sound like the only moral people in a cesspool of wickedness? Maybe. Does he sometimes sound like the only guy with a good idea, surrounded by fools blinded by self-interest and politics? Yes, he does. But that shouldn't detract from the value of his observations. He was there, in the middle of it. He quotes chapter and verse, names names and says what they said. There may be some sins of omission in "Bailout" but it's very unlikely that any of its contents are made up out of whole cloth.

(Other reviewers (notably in the NYT) have made much of the fact that TARP never actually cost $700 Billion or $2.37 Trillion or whatever huge number is being tossed around. Barofsky's point is, that much money was put at risk without adequate oversight, never mind whether the risk went bad. My way of summarizing his point: If there were an armed break-in at your house while you were away and though no one was shot, you learned that the baby-sitter had used your young child as a human shield, you wouldn't be...shall we say, incensed?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars My second reading
This book is well written from an insider's perspective. There will be many that criticize this book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Terry T. Curtis
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
very thorough. I found it interesting and disappointing as to how our government really works behind closed doors.
Published 2 months ago by Michael Ferkler
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Slow start but ends with a bang
Published 3 months ago by Cam Clos
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book, makes you sick to sort of understand ...
Fascinating book, makes you sick to sort of understand the corruption in Wall St and the relationship of the government and a real eye opener, this should be required reading in... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Robbo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 5 months ago by Michelle B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Big banks rule DC!!!!
Great book explaining the politics involved in bailout. Sad that big banks and big business is all that matters in DC. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Wacker
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fascinating insider look at the real washington machine at "work." Totally outrageous and distressing as well.
Published 5 months ago by Thistles
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great insight on how the government works, or rather, doesn't work for the people.
Published 5 months ago by Trying to Keep Up
4.0 out of 5 stars While it was an excellent insider's view of government
While it was an excellent insider's view of government, Barofsky leaves a glaring question unanswered. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Matthew Forman
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book. Gives the inside story of how our money was spent and wasted
Published 5 months ago by Karen McRight
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