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Too Big to Fail
by Gary H. Stern, Ron J. Feldman
The potential failure of a large bank presents vexing questions for policymakers. It poses significant risks to other financial institutions, to the financial system as a whole, and possibly to the economic and social order. Because of such fears, policymakers in many countries—developed and less developed, democratic and autocratic—respond by protecting bank creditors from all or some of the losses they otherwise would face. Failing banks are labeled “too big to fail” (or TBTF). This important new book examines the issues surrounding TBTF, explaining why it is a problem and discussing ways of dealing with it more effectively.
Gary Stern and Ron Feldman, officers with the Federal Reserve, warn that not enough has been done to reduce creditors’ expectations of TBTF protection. Many of the existing pledges and policies meant to convince creditors that they will bear market losses when large banks fail are not credible, resulting in significant net costs to the economy. The authors recommend that policymakers enact a series of reforms to reduce expectations of bailouts when large banks fail.
by Neil Barofsky
by Irvine H. Sprague
The Bank That Lived a Little
by Philip Augar
Based on unparalleled access to those involved, and told with compelling pace and drama, The Bank that Lived a Little describes three decades of boardroom intrigue at one of Britain’s biggest financial institutions. In a tale of feuds, grandiose dreams and a struggle for supremacy between rival strategies and their adherents, Philip Augar gives a riveting account of Barclays’ journey from an old Quaker bank to a full-throttle capitalist machine. The disagreement between those ambitious for Barclays to join the top table of global banks, and those preferring a smaller domestic role more in keeping with the bank’s traditions, cost three chief executives their jobs and continues to divide opinion within Barclays, the City and beyond.
This is an extraordinary corporate thriller, which among much else describes how Barclays came to buy Lehman Brothers for a bargain price in 2008, why it was so keen to avoid taking government funding during the financial crisis, and the price shareholders have paid for a decade of barely controlled ambition. But Augar also shows how Barclays’ experiences are a paradigm for Britain’s social and economic life over thirty years, which saw the City move from the edge of the economy to its very centre. These decades created unprecedented prosperity for a tiny number, and made the reputations of governments and individuals but then left many of them in tatters.
The leveraged society, the winner-takes-all mentality and our present era of austerity can all be traced to the influence of banks such as Barclays. Augar’s book tells this rollercoaster story from the perspective of many of its participants – and also of those affected by the grip they came to have on Britain.
Bull by the Horns
by Sheila Bair
The former FDIC chairwoman, and one of the first people to acknowledge the full risk of subprime loans, offers a unique perspective on the financial crisis.
Appointed by George W. Bush as the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in 2006, Sheila Bair witnessed the origins of the financial crisis and in 2008 became—along with Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, and Timothy Geithner—one of the key public servants trying to repair the damage to the global economy. Bull by the Horns is her remarkable and refreshingly honest account of that contentious time and the struggle for reform that followed and continues to this day.
Guardians of Prosperity
by Richard X. Bove
by James Freeman, Vern McKinley
The disturbing, untold story of one of the largest financial institutions in the world, Citigroup—one of the ” too big to fail” banks—from its founding in 1812 to its role in the 2008 financial crisis, and the many disasters in between.
During the 2008 financial crisis, Citi was presented as the victim of events beyond its control—the larger financial panic, unforeseen economic disruptions, and a perfect storm of credit expansion, private greed, and public incompetence. To save the economy and keep the bank afloat, the government provided huge infusions of cash through multiple bailouts that frustrated and angered the American public.
But, as financial experts James Freeman and Vern McKinley reveal, the 2008 crisis was just one of many disasters Citi has experienced since its founding more than two hundred years ago. In Borrowed Time, they reveal Citi’s history of instability and government support. It’s not a story that either Citi or Washington wants told.
From its founding in 1812 and through much of its history the bank has been tied to the federal government—a relationship that has benefited both. Many of its initial stockholders had owned stock in the Bank of the United States, and its first president, Samuel Osgood, had been a member of the Continental Congress and America’s first Postmaster General. From its earliest years, Citi took massive risks that led to crisis. But thanks to private investors, including John Jacob Astor, they survived throughout the nineteenth century.
In the twentieth century, Senator Carter Glass blamed Citi CEO “Sunshine Charlie” Mitchell for the 1929 stock market crash, and the bank was actually in violation of the senator’s signature achievement, the Glass-Steagall law, in the late 1990s until then U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin engineered the law’s repeal. Rubin later became the chairman of the executive committee of Citigroup, helping to oversee the bank as it ramped up its increasing mortgage risks before the 2008 crash.
The scale of the financial panic of 2008 was not, as the media and experts claim, unprecedented. As Borrowed Time shows, disasters have been relatively frequent during the century of government-protected banking—especially at Citi.
The Seven Sins of Wall Street
by Bob Ivry
Informed by deep reporting from New York, Washington, and the heartland, The Seven Sins of Wall Street, like no other book, shows how we’re all affected by the financial industry’s inhumanity. The transgressions of “Wall Street titans” and “masters of the universe” are paid for by real people. In fierce, plain English, Ivry indicts a financial industry that continues to work for the few at the expense of the rest of us. Problems that financiers deemed too complicated to be understood by ordinary folks are shown by Ivry to be financial legerdemain—a smokescreen of complexity and jargon that hide the bankers’ nefarious activities.
The Seven Sins of Wall Street is irreverent and timely, an infuriating black comedy. The Great Depression of the 1930s moved the American political system to real reform that kept the finance industry in check. With millions so deeply affected since the crisis of 2008, you’ll finish this book asking yourself how it is that so many of the nation’s leading financial institutions remain such exasperating problem children.
Adults in the Room
by Yanis Varoufakis
A Number One Sunday Times Bestseller
What happens when you take on the establishment? In Adults in the Room, the renowned economist and former finance minister of Greece Yanis Varoufakis gives the full, blistering account of his momentous clash with the mightiest economic and political forces on earth.
After being swept into power with the left-wing Syriza party, Varoufakis attempts to renegotiate Greece’s relationship with the EU—and sparks a spectacular battle with global implications. Varoufakis’s new position sends him ricocheting between mass demonstrations in Athens, closed-door negotiations in drab EU and IMF offices, and furtive meetings with power brokers in Washington, D.C. He consults and quarrels with Barack Obama, Emmanuel Macron, Christine Lagarde, the economists Larry Summers and Jeffrey Sachs, and others, as he struggles to resolve Greece’s debt crisis without resorting to punishing austerity measures. But despite the mass support of the Greek people and the simple logic of Varoufakis’s arguments, he succeeds only in provoking the fury of Europe’s elite.
Varoufakis’s unvarnished memoir is an urgent warning that the economic policies once embraced by the EU and the White House have failed—and spawned authoritarianism, populist revolt, and instability throughout the Western world. Adults in the Room is an extraordinary tale of brinkmanship, hypocrisy, collusion, and betrayal that will shake the global establishment to its foundations.
by Christopher Foote
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