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Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street by [Barofsky, Neil]
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Scorched Earth: Restoring America after Obama by Michael Savage
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Michael Savage reveals why we have an infected political system, and what we can now do to nurse the country back to health. Learn more
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Product Details

  • File Size: 2843 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (July 24, 2012)
  • Publication Date: July 24, 2012
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00818J57W
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  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,083 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

By James R. Holland VINE VOICE on July 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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