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Senseless Panic: How Washington Failed America Hardcover – June 1, 2010
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The 1980s opened with the prime interest rate at an astonishing 21.5 percent, leading to a severe recession with unemployment reaching nearly 11 percent. Depression-like conditions befell the agricultural sector, a bubble burst in the energy sector, a rolling real estate recession swept the country, the entire thrift industry was badly insolvent and the major money center banks were loaded with third world debt. Some 3,000 bank and thrifts failed, including nine of Texas’ 10 largest, and Continental Illinois, which, at the time, was the 7thlargest bank in the nation. These severe conditions were not only handled without creating a panic, the economy actually embarked on the longest peacetime expansion in history.
In Senseless Panic: How Washington Failed America, William M. Isaac, Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) during the banking and S&L crises of the 1980s, details what was different about 2008’s meltdown that allowed the failure of a comparative handful of institutions to nearly shut down the world’s financial system. The book also tells the rousing story of Isaac’s time at the FDIC. With accessible and engaging prose, Isaac:
- Details the mistakes that led to the panic of 2008 and 2009
- Demystifies the conditions America faced in 2008, and
- Provides a roadmap for avoiding similar shutdowns and panics in the future
Senseless Panicis a provocative, quick-paced, and thoughtful analysis of what went wrong with the nation's banking system and a blunt indictment of United States policy.
Amazon Exclusive: Review fom Professor Cornelius Hurley
Executive Director, Morin Center for Banking & Financial Law
Former Assistant General Counsel, Federal Reserve Board
it has the wisdom of experience. (The Economist, July 2010). This book certainly contains words of wisdom. (Financial World, September 2010).
Top customer reviews
Second, I wanted to hear it from Bill Isaac himself, and here's why.
"Senseless Panic" describes, as an introduction to a discussion of their current relevance, various upheavals of the 80's; the mammoth thrift problem, the disaster in the oil patch, the collapse of a major banking chain in Tennessee and Kentucky, the failure of the quite large Continental Illinois Bank, and others. Bill Isaac served FDIC as Chairman during this period. Those knowledgeable of the challenges that all of those events brought to FDIC and the banking industry and the public are well aware (and history undoubtedly will underestimate) how fortuitous was the intersection of Bill Isaac's FDIC tenure and all the aforementioned events.
Serving as Chairman Isaac's Director of Bank Supervision during this era, I quickly grew to appreciate his thoughtful and proactive approach to problem solving. He was always attentive to everyone who wished to contribute good thought, delighting in thoughtful criticism, fond of well-informed common sense and refusing to let issues accummulate but rather dealing with them promptly, and in their turn. Under Bill Isaac's leadership and with his excellent ability to communicate with all parties, including media, bankers, Washington officialdom, the public and FDIC employees at all levels, FDIC spoke confidently with one voice, and everybody knew how FDIC would react in any circumstance when all the facts were in. That was (IMHO) FDIC's high-water mark, and it was Bill Isaac's legacy to those who gained satisfaction and benefit from a slick-operating, cohesive, collegial, focused, efficient, responsible and universally-respected servant of the U. S. Citizen.
As I read the book, it was clear that although the facts have changed and evolution during the last 25 years is whatever it is, Bill has the same nonuse for half-baked solutions no matter their source. In a different venue now, the challenge is not a bunch of eager-to-excel FDIC bank examiners and a banking industry looking for answers, but a group of accident-prone policymakers with the predeliction for prescribing more bureaucracy and a thousand felled trees to record their often misfocused expediencies and sides of pork. So, Bill again compellingly seeds the financial public policy discussion among his readers with real facts and flawless thought, confident as always that an informed public will cause common sense to reemerge as an important integral of public policy.
Bureaucracies are created and existing ones made greater in the smoke and fog of confusion, lack of appreciation of cause and effect, and refusal to pause and listen to reason. Read "Senseless Panic". It is so well and concisely written that it is practically an IV feeding of essential understanding of what just happened to you, your country, and the world, and why it was "Senseless". Information is power, and this is the real thing.