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In FED We Trust: Ben Bernanke's War on the Great Panic Paperback – August 3, 2010
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—David Brooks, The New York Times
“...essential, lucid—and, it turns out, riveting—reading."
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“...a tale that’s nothing short of hair-raising..reveals in scary detail how unprepared politicians and regulators truly were...”
—Paul M Barrett, The New York Times Book Review
“Wessel delivers an engrossing account of Bernanke's improvisational responses to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.”
“... so far the most entertaining and most readable book on the financial crisis.”
—Tyler Cowen, marginalrevolution.com
“...persuasively told and richly reported... It will win awards and inspire copycats.”
"David Wessel brings his deep knowledge of the Federal Reserve and U.S. politics and economics to a topic that will be studied by historians for decades to come...No one can understand what happened and what did not happen without reading this book."
–Joseph E. Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics and author of Globalization and its Discontents
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
From the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Wessel is the economics editor at the Wall Street Journal and appears to have had a great deal of access to Bernanke and Geithner. His insider's perspective unfortunately produced very little insight. You can learn (p.115 AND p.192) that Bernanke used a "Polycom" speakerphone, but not that Hank Paulson and Richard Fuld were bitter rivals.
On a more substantive level, the book continually updates a "dashboard" with the Dow Jones average and the market cap of Citigroup. The success of each intervention is judged by the reaction of the stock market, generally within the day, to the policy. Does Wessel not remember that the Dow hit an all time high in October 2007, six months after subprime problems had emerged at Bear Stearns?
There is almost no discussion of the complex, leveraged financial instruments (e.g. CDOs and CDS) that amplified the crisis and made traditional monetary policy ineffective. A more thorough account would have also explored the regulatory failure of the Fed and federal government prior to the crisis.
On balance, the book is too narrow for someone just trying to go beyond the headlines and too superficial for those looking ahead to the next crisis.
The first inclination you have when you pick up this book is to dive in deep and fast to find out what went on in the minds of Bernanke, Paulson, and Geithner, among others. There must have been some amazing discussions, fraught with fear but Wessel never quite captures this for the reader to experience.Read more ›
In addition, we learn a lot more about Timothy Geithner and Hank Paulson, the other two fascinating characters in this near-calamity.
Wessel is excellent at explaining the intricacies of the complicated, innovative--but ultimately poisonous--instruments that were partially to blame for the meltdown, as well as in translating "FedSpeak" so that the reader understands concepts like the Fed's discount window, how interest rates reverberate throughout the economy, and how there were fundamental changes in the very structure of our financial system that were difficult even for bankers, economists and the best-educated politicians to decipher. What the Chairman of the Fed doesn't say is sometimes as important as what he does say. Bernanke is under the microscope, and this book explains what kinds of pressures are involved in his job.
What I most appreciate about this book is that it does not endeavor to demonize any of the major participants. Wessel is for the most part sympathetic to the efforts and intentions of the major players, although he definitely pulls no punches when pointing out where mistakes were made. And there were plenty, to be sure. He eunerates them in considerable detail (including stupendous goofs by Greenspan).
As a reader, I came away the feeling this was a very balanced, thoughtful and fair book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book does a great job at outlining the tough position the Fed was in during the crisis - but I would have liked to see greater emphasis on what Wall Street could have also... Read morePublished 17 days ago by Heidy G. Medina
The best exposition of the events constituting the Great Panic that I have yet read, and written in a "watch it happening now" style that I found hard to put down. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Arthur J Murphy MD
This book is written like an extended WSJ article. Very easy to read and follow. If you want an institutional look at the 2008 Economic crisis, this is the book to read.Published on December 17, 2013 by Todd M.
A good summary of all that went on at the Fed and Treasury during the great crisis, in typical, easily-understood Wessel style. Read morePublished on June 30, 2013 by Mark Gerboth
Another lesson in government ineptness and the culture of nepotism at the very highest levels. This very small group of people control our very existence!Published on May 2, 2013 by Peter Beagan
The item was "new", as stated in the item description. There were no marks or highlighted portions within the book that I noticed. Read morePublished on January 14, 2013 by Josh F
We all need to study the federal government and bne interested in Washington DC
I am ashamed that I have not finished reading but it is a good resource for when you have... Read more
The author tells the story of the Great Panic well and his use of Bernanke's Dashboard throughout (which gives, among other things, the share price of Citi, unemployment rate,... Read morePublished on June 19, 2012 by Alex