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Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself Hardcover – September 25, 2012


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Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself + Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street + Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451672489
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451672480
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“When Sheila Bair took over as head of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2006, the agency was probably better known for the ‘FDIC’ logo on the doors of the nation’s banks than for anything it did. Now Bair is at the center of the financial crisis, speeding the takeover of failing banks and pressing the mortgage industry to ease loan terms. . . . winning praise from Democrats and Republicans.” (Bloomberg News)

“The FDIC’s influence has grown in the past year because of Ms. Bair’s willingness to challenge her peers, as well as her agency's central role responding to the financial crisis. Ms. Bair warned about the housing crisis before many of her colleagues.” (The Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2009)

“Bair is everything you'd want in a public servant: thoughtful, practical, independent-minded—a straight shooter with political savvy who can manage the details of policy without losing sight of the big picture. She's no grandstander, but she isn't shy about going public with concerns if she thinks it will help her inside game. She never forgets that her most important constituency isn't the thousands of banks she regulates but the millions of Americans who use them.” (Steven Pearlstein Pulitzer-prize winning Washington Post columnist, June 18, 2008)

“During the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, Sheila Bair has been the little guy's protector in chief.” (Time Magazine, April 30, 2009)

“A crisp, telling and often funny narrative of the 2008 meltdown.” (John Wasik Forbes)

"Bull By the Horns is the story of financial calamity seen from the perspective of this public servant, rendered from detailed notes. We learn with whom she met, what was said, what decisions taken, and how things turned out….This is a book for aficionados of infuriating detail.
Yet beneath the froth of facts courses an epic struggle. It pits Sheila Bair and the civil servants of the FDIC on one side and [Timothy Geithner] on the other.” (James Galbraith)

“[Sheila Bair] is an excellent choice as the most experienced as well as principled candidate to head the SEC or Treasury… [and] her outstanding book Bull by the Horns… should be required reading for the president and those who are advising him on selecting his new economic team.” (Robert Scheer TruthDig)

“If you can read just one book on the financial crisis, this should be it.” (Financial Executive)

About the Author

Sheila Bair is the former Chairman of the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). She has been covered—and lauded—everywhere from The New Yorker to The Washington Post to The Wall Street Journal, and in 2008 and 2009 Forbes named her the second-most powerful woman in the world. Prior to assuming her post at the FDIC, Bair served as assistant secretary for financial institutions at the US Department of the Treasury and as senior vice president for government relations of the New York Stock Exchange.

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Customer Reviews

A quick read and well written.
Allen Shields
If you are only going to read one book about the Great Recession, this is the one.
presto14
Things that will Make our financial institutions work better .
Contrarian

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

193 of 207 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on September 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The FDIC was created in 1933 to stabilize the banking system after depositor runs forced thousands of banks to close during the Great Depression. It has since done for for more than 70 years. Sheila Bair had worked as legal counsel for Senator Dole, commissioner and acting chairman of the CFTC, and headed government relations for the NYSE prior to being asked by Bush II to take the lead at the FIDC in 2006. At the time it employed about 4,500 and had a billion-dollar operating budget; in 1995 the staff totaled 12,000 - partly necessary and partly the result of the deregulatory dogma that infected Washington and led by luminaries such as Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin. Ms. Bair soon became one of the first to war of the risk of sub-prime loans; her 'Bull by the Horns' provides unique insight into the greatest financial crisis the U.S. faced since the Great Depression.

In mid-October, 2008, Treasury Secretary Paulson persuaded nine major bank CEOs representing about $9 trillion in assets to go along with a $125 billion TARP bailout. Bair's opinion was that only Citibank needed the help - that the big program was simply a cover-up to shield it from more focused public glare. (Citi ultimately required three bailouts.) Previously she had derailed Geithner and Citibank CEO Pandit's plans to buy Wachovia with financial assistance from the FDIC, instead supporting Wells Fargo's acquisition w/o government assistance. Her opinion was that the last thing the FDIC needed was two mismanaged banks merging. Pandit had gotten the position via support from Robert Rubin - formerly he'd been a hedge fund manager with a mixed record and knew little about banking.

Later, under Geithner, came the large-bank stress tests.
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68 of 73 people found the following review helpful By MAH on September 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I just picked up "Bull by the Horns" to get a first-hand recounting of the financial crisis and a behind-the-scenes look at the cast of characters involved, and have already found so much more. It's a fast-paced, eye-opening read that relays important lessons about the causes of and responses to the crisis, and combines them with common-sense policy recommendations. Using the same straight-forward, direct style that served her well as the head of the FDIC, Bair in her book takes the reader past the technical jargon of banking and into a forward-looking, easy-to-understand discussion of how each and every one of us is affected by financial policy. Additionally, she sets the record straight on many of the misconceptions about the financial crisis. "Bull by the Horns" is a great, informative read.
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful By N N Taleb on September 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I don't have time for a full review for now; all I have to say is that we have the account of a person who says it the way it was, revealing the types of truths that don't fit the New York Times and others pawns. When history is written, this will be used, not the spin by the bankers' slaves and soldiers (Geithner, Rubin et al.) Bravo Sheila!
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful By presto14 on September 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read a lot of the financial meltdown books written by journalists who have taken copious notes from a myriad of interviews. But what they are getting of course is someone else's viewpoint, excuses and/or 'spin' as to why things went as badly as they did. I pity the poor scribe who has to sort it all out & discover what really happened. That is why a book by Sheila Bair is so important. She was there. She saw it coming. And she is just about the only (no, she was the only), person in the room who has come out looking good. She is honest in her assessments, straightforward in her analysis and she doesn't hold back. The same attributes that served her well in her five years in steering the FDIC through stormy seas. If you are only going to read one book about the Great Recession, this is the one.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good book about the crisis. Even better, it tells how the banks derailed reform . Best of all she proposes solutions.

This has three parts:
- 1) an insider's view of the crisis and bailouts. This is excellent
- 2) an insider's view of the reform efforts and how the banks, helped by Geithner and others, undermined the efforts at reform.
- 3) proposed solutions

The first part is very good but there isn't much that is new. There are a lot of good books about the crisis. I don't have time to read them all. This one focuses on the regulatory side of things and has some good inside insights there. It doesn't cover what was going on at the banks, rating agencies, etc. So, for this story, you are better off with a more general book such as 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown (Vintage)

But there are few books about the reform efforts and discussion from the inside how they were derailed. This is mostly a Washington, DC story and this book does it very well. Bailout by Neil Barofsky Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street is also great on the subject of how the money was squandered in the later parts of the bailout and how Geithner and other folks at Treasury but doesn't cover the Dood-Frank and other reforms. Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins also seems worth reading (I'm just in the middle).
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