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Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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"Witty and entertaining...you've gotta get this. It's unbelievable." (Jon Stewart The Daily Show)
"[Neil Barofsky is] a born writer…. Bailout is a kind of Alice in Wonderland tale of an ordinary, sane person disappearing down into a realm of hallucinatory dysfunction, with Tim Geithner playing the role of the Mad Hatter and Barofsky the increasingly frustrated Alice who realizes he's stuck at the stupidest tea party he ever was at… wry… morbidly funny… one of the best." (Matt Taibbi Rolling Stone)
“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.” (Fortune)
“[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) --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
About the Author
NEIL BAROFSKY is currently a senior fellow at New York University School of Law. From December 2008 until March 2011, he served as the special inspector general in charge of oversight of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Before that he was a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Bailout is his first book.
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Barofsky does an excellent job of relating his experiences and in the process showing how and why it is seemingly so difficult to get anything done in Washington. Prior to taking the job heading up SIGTARP, Barofsky was a top prosecutor with the US Attorney's Office in New York City where he handled cases involving everything from drug cartels to financial and mortgage fraud. One of his cases dealing with FARC guerillas/druglords in Colombia was to give him an early taste of what dealing with Washington was ultimately going to be like:
"In the FARC case, however, Rich was asking us to be the ones to invade someone else's turf....three different offices in Washington ... had been investigating the FARC - unsuccessfully - for years: DOJ's Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Section, the Counter Terrorism Section, and the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. Together with the leadership at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the FBI, they had developed an official FARC narrative: though certain rogue groups within FARC, called 'fronts,' might have been engaged in narcotics trafficking, the organization as a whole was not. That narrative was fully supported by the State Department, which likely wanted to keep its options open in case an opportunity arose to broker peace between FARC and the Colombian government. It also justified DOJ's tepid results after years of investigation: only a handful of charges against FARC guerrillas. I was to learn while at SIGTARP that 'adopting a narrative' was a tried-and-true tactic in Washington: define the status quo as a success, and then ignore all evidence that suggests otherwise."
A number of Washington figures from both the administrative and legislative branches appear in Barofsky's account. It was interesting to see how some - in both parties - were actually trying to do their job and get things done, while others merely treated everything as an unending series of petty turf wars and still others were either deliberately obstructive or - and one cannot escape the conclusion - manifestly corrupt.
Highly, highly recommended for anyone who wants to know and understand exactly what went on, who was responsible, for one of the most massive acts of financial incompetence and collusion at the highest levels of government in US history.
He notes, "The banks realized that they could create the same kind of mortgage-backed securities as the GSEs, only without having to guarantee the payments, by focusing on the types of loans that fell short of the GSEs' requirements. Those were called 'subprime' loans because banks made them to borrowers with lower credit ratings... who had less money for a down payment." (Pg. 82) He adds, "Before long, demand for the [mortgage-backed] bonds became so great that banks were having a hard time scrounging enough mortgages together to buy to make more of them. So mortgage lenders got inventive. They started offering mortgages that required remarkably low payments at first, but which would later reset to a much higher rate that the borrower might no longer be able to afford... a borrower no longer had to prove that he was making a certain salary or even that he had a job... The mortgage broker or loan originator... earned fees based on the number of loans he could generate..." (Pg. 85)
He reports, "the news broke that Treasury had authorized the insurance giant AIG to pay $168 million in 'retention bonuses' to employees in its Financial Services Division, the very unit whose reckless bets had brought down the company... For those on the left, the payments represented more evidence of Treasury's betrayal of the public in administering TARP... For those on the right, the payments encapsulated everything that they saw wrong about the government's policy of 'corporate welfare,' which seemed endlessly to reward failure. They were both right." (Pg. 138)
He notes, "Our strategy was paying off, and by the time I stepped down... we had secured criminal convictions of eighteen individuals for TARP-related crimes, with fifty-four more charged either civilly or criminally as a result of our investigations... we had prevented more than $550 million in taxpayer dollars from being lost to frand and assisted in the recovery of more than $150 million." (Pg. 209)
Although Barofsky is sometimes a bit "self-promoting," this is an absolutely essential document for anyone studying the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath.