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Too Big to Save? How to Fix the U.S. Financial System Hardcover – November 9, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0470499054 ISBN-10: 0470499052 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (November 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470499052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470499054
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,405,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“For the last two years I've been receiving requests -- emailand otherwise -- for a readable, educating book on the financialcrisis. And while various books on the crisis have had theirmerits, no one of them has fit that bill. Until now. Robert Pozen'sToo Big to Save? How to Fix the U.S. Financial System is the singlebest source for figuring out what happened. It is the go-to book ifyou are a non-specialist and want to understand: how credit defaultswaps work, the significance of Basel II, mark-to-market, how thevarious Fed bailouts operated, the meaning of the toxic assetplans, and many other matters.”
Tyler Cowen/ September 2009, http://www.marginalrevolution.com

"Should be required reading on Capitol Hill."
—Kevin Hall, McClatchy Newspapers

"Pozen’s book offers significantly more than a factualrecitation of events leading up to and during the credit crisis.Beyond that, it offers a comprehensive framework for analysis andconcrete proposals for appropriate regulatory responses. Broadly,Pozen’s aim is not – or not only – to tell thestory of the crisis, but rather to analyze how the crisis canilluminate and inform the appropriate relationship betweengovernment and financial markets. Pozen describes specificregulatory innovations intended to keep pace with the speed andcomplexity of financial innovation. He offers, that is, theanalysis sorely lacking in more journalistic accounts of thecrisis. In that regard, his book is one of the few in the growingliterature arising out of the crisis that should inform any seriousdiscussion of new financial regulation."
—Alisa Greenstein, The Hedge Fund Law Report, October2009

"Pozen seems to be right (or at least in broad agreement withme) the overwhelming majority of the time. And as you can also see,he makes a lot of recommendations, on everything fromaccounting standards to insurance regulation. Tyler Cowen is quiteright to give the book a rave review."
—Felix Salmon, blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon,November 2009

"This is a book for investors who want to understand the detailsof our financial landscape, and who also want to consider argumentson restricting mortgage-lending practices, whether financialderivatives and hedge funds should be regulated or the revival ofloan securitization, among others." (SmartMoney, November 2009)

“There has not been a more timely and important bookwritten this decade. … In summary, Too Big to Save iscomprehensive, rigorous, and descriptive as well as prescriptive.The US economy is too important a global player to be ignored, andPozen’s analysis in ‘Too Big Too Save’ is tooimportant to not be read. This book is truly a gem and a stronglyrecommended read.”
—Sean Cameron, The Harvard Law School Forum on CorporateGovernance and Financial Regulation ( http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/corpgov, November 2009

“The best finance book I've read so far this year (andI've read a slew of them) is Robert C. Pozen's Too Big to Save? Howto Fix the U.S. Financial System. … I can't think of anybodywho has covered such a range of issues so efficiently or sowell.” (Brad DeLong, ( http://delong.typepad.com,November 2009

"TOO BIG TO SAVE? asks and answers the questionsweighing on every American's mind...a highly readable andwell-paced narrative...a valuable guide to a wide audience ofreaders, from American voters who felt disenfranchised by theevents of September 2008 and are looking for an accessible resourceto further inform their perspective, to professionals who seek asingle source for an engaging account of the crisis and itsimplications for businesses today and tomorrow."
—Elizabeth Leonard, Forbes.com, December 2009

"University economists are already teaching courses on thehistory of the financial crisis of 2008 and the policy responsesthat followed. Robert Pozen's new book could become requiredreading."
—Ross Kerber, Reuters, December 2009

"To command the weary reviewer’s attention, any new bookon the aberrations of the financial community has to have a clearfocus and make a compelling case. In Too Big To Save? RobertPozen, chairman of mutual fund group MFS Investment Management anda former vice-chairman of Fidelity Investments, pulls off thetrick. … The story of excessive risk-taking and leverage islucidly told and accessible to the layman, with good explanationsof securitisation, toxic structured products and the globaldimension of the crisis. The policy recommendations are thoughtfuland mostly full of good sense."
— John Plender, Financial Times, February 2010

"The first thing one can see from the book is how much of agenius Robert Pozen is. He has a clear grasp on many complex issuesfacing the US and world economy. Too Big to Save? isprobably the best book about financial reform written sofar."
—Jacob Wolinksy, GuruFocus.com, February 2010

"... thorough, intelligent and straightforward ..."
—Jim McTague, Barron's, March 2010

"While there are many books on the financial crisis, too many ofthem say too much about what went wrong and not enough about how tofix the problem. Bob Pozen's book Too Big toSave? (Wiley, 2009) breaks the mold. It not only analyzesthe causes of the crisis with uncommon clarity, but also supplies acompelling road map for reform."
—Stephen J. Hadley, Harvard Business Review, March 2010

"If you’re only going to read one book on the financialcrisis, this should be the one."
— Matthew Rees, The American, May 2010

From the Inside Flap

Mortgage defaults, together with excessivedebt and weak regulation,ultimately led to a major financial crisis in the United States in2008. But how exactly did a steep drop in U.S. housing pricesresult in a severe financial crisis throughout the world? What didthe U.S. government do right and what did it do wrong in respondingto this financial crisis? And perhaps most importantly, whatactions should be taken in the future to resolve this financialcrisis and help prevent others from happening? In Too Big to Save?,Robert Pozen answers these and other key questions as he presentshis vision for repairing the U.S. financial system.

Each chapter of this timely book analyzes the impact of thefinancial crisis on a major part of the U.S. financial system.Pozen first explains the globalization of the financial crisisthrough the sale of mortgagebacked securities around the world. Hesuggests how the securitization process should be reformed,including new approaches to credit rating agencies and creditdefault swaps.

Second, he assesses the impact of the financial crisis on thestock and bond markets. He criticizes the broad governmentguarantees of bank debt and money market funds, and calls forreinstating the incentives for large debt holders to scrutinize thecondition of financial institutions.

Third, he evaluates the federal bailout of financialinstitutions by buying their stock and toxic assets. He shows howthese bailouts constitute "one-way capitalism" whereby taxpayersbear most of the losses but stand to receive little of anypotential gains.

Finally, he outlines what can and cannot be achievedrealistically through international financial cooperation. For theUnited States, he proposes a concrete plan to address risks to theentire financial system and strengthen the functional regulation ofeach segment of the financial services industry.

Too Big to Save? will give you a sound framework toanalyze the daily barrage of information about the financialcrisis. It offers a blueprint for restoring the financial systemwithout repeating the mistakes of the past.


Related Media

Customer Reviews

Most importantly, he provides vision.
Bonnie J. Woods
Bob Pozen's book, "Too Big to Save: How to Fix the US Financial System" is the most important books on financial reform written to date.
Sean Cameron
Pozen explains complex concepts in a clear and understandable manner.
Kathleen Miskiewicz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Sean Cameron on November 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Bob Pozen's book, "Too Big to Save: How to Fix the US Financial System" is the most important books on financial reform written to date. The book not only provides an overview of how the US economy entered into a deep recession, but also a comprehensive plan for reform and a return to growth. Filled with original insight, the book clearly explains the failure of our modern capitalist society that has morphed into one-way capitalism that penalizes taxpayers who do not participate in upside gains but are exposed to losses from bailed out financial institutions. The book offers pragmatic advice for policymakers and important guidelines for all readers to understand the nature, causes, and appropriate reforms associated with the current US financial crisis. There has not been a more timely and important book written this decade.

Furthermore, Bob Pozen approaches each potential idea of reform with a well-reasoned perspective on the legal, economic, political, ethical and cultural implications of such reform. Pozen has a unique ability to describe complex phenomona such as the housing boom and bust and explosive growth in the use and complexity of financial derivatives with ease. His grasp of the complex issues is second to none, and his ability to convey these complex ideas in easily understandable, succinct prose is remarkable. Pozen's suggestions for reform - including reducing moral hazard problems, strengthening boards, and improving the regulatory system - present feasible, necessary steps that policymakers must head to improve financial markets and the real economy.

"Too Big to Save" is comprehensive, rigorous, and not only descriptive but also prescriptive. The US economy is too important a global player to be ignored, and Pozen's analysis in "Too Big Too Save" is too important to not be read. This book is truly a gem and a strongly recommended read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M. Mirsky on January 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Robert Pozen's "Too Big to Save?" has already received a number of enthusiastic notices on Amazon's pages by readers who know a lot more about economics than I do. And due disclosure mandates that I state that I am related to the author--but both of these disclaimers are in fact recommendations. Like most members of the general public I depend on newspapers for knowledge about topics I don't read in any depth about--I am a novelist and a professor of English, writing at times about architecture, literature, or Biblical scholarship. I have a bank account, some stocks, a few bonds, and in the present recession realized that I could neither trust the media or conventional wisdom to guide my own finances, let alone the choices being made by elected and appointed government officials. In the quickly moving present crisis, every book on the past is almost immediately outdated, but what struck me in the past weeks reading "Too Big to Save?" is how current it is about what is playing out in the headlines right now, and perhaps a few steps ahead. Just how the crisis at AIG came about, how many mistakes were made in its resolution, why Ben Bernanke's present disclaimers ring hollow, and the complications of Executive Pay issues, are not adequately put into context in a narrow column of the New York Times, and certainly not on Web news sites. Robert Pozen's analysis of the crisis however, gives one a shrewd seat at the table of the insiders and makes one boil at the sheer arrogance and bone-headedness of the club that helped cause this crisis. A dozen friends have hammered at me that the dollar is on the way out and that the Euro and the Yen, and China, are the future, but the last chapter of "Too Big to Save?" calls that into question, based on hard statistics.Read more ›
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Miskiewicz on November 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Too Big to Save is a clear and straightforward account of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. As Pozen states, the book is aimed at intelligent readers, who are not financial experts. The book sets out to answer three key questions: How exactly did a steep drop in U.S. housing prices result in a severe financial crisis throughout the world? What did the U.S. government do right and what did it do wrong in responding to the financial crisis? What actions should be taken in the future to resolve this financial crisis and prevent others from happening?

Pozen accomplishes these goals. The book is easy to read and not only synthesizes the background and history of elements of the financial system (for example, of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, of credit default swaps, and of the 2008 Bailout Act), but goes much further. It includes detailed analysis and critique, and concrete policy proposals. Pozen explains complex concepts in a clear and understandable manner. The book is insightful and accomplished. The book also contains a helpful glossary.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A_2007_reader on November 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There's a tendency in history to ascribe to telesis, which means certain things happen due to innate, inexorable facts. This dates back to the time of Aristotle. Pozen's book is like this: Pozen can explain everything that happened based on a handful of rules: the Fed expanded too quickly, lack of regulation, agency problems (managers getting rich short term at long term shareholder expense), rating agency abuses. But for the violation of these rules we would not have a crisis. Pozen's prescription is better regulation. Perhaps this is all true, but it's a bit too pat. Question: given that crisis are endemic to capitalism, sometimes is it possible that despite the best safeguards, bubbles with form? Not according to Pozen, but a number of reputable economists think so.

Nevertheless, this is a good book because it's well written and easy to read, has original and interesting charts and graphics, is not too long and is thought provoking.

Four stars. If you need however a compendium of viewpoints, some for or against regulation, buy this book (or journal): Critical Review: Volume 21, No. 2-3, 2009, ISSN 0891-3811, "Causes of the Crisis", which has a Who's Who of economists with divergent viewpoints. Very interesting, but it's more technical and harder to follow that this book, but worth it.
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More About the Author

Robert C. Pozen is a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He was chairman of MFS Investment Management and vice chairman of Fidelity Investments. He served on President Bush's Commission to Strengthen Social Security and was also secretary of economic affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He was associate general counsel of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and was a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Caplin & Drysdale. The author of six books, Pozen lives with his wife in Boston, Massachusetts.

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