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by Neil Barofsky
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.
by Christopher Foote
by Adam Tooze
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2018
ONE OF THE ECONOMIST’S BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A NEW YORK TIMES CRITICS’ TOP BOOK
“An intelligent explanation of the mechanisms that produced the crisis and the response to it…One of the great strengths of Tooze’s book is to demonstrate the deeply intertwined nature of the European and American financial systems.”–The New York Times Book Review
From a prizewinning economic historian, an eye-opening reinterpretation of the 2008 economic crisis (and its ten-year aftermath) as a global event that directly led to the shockwaves being felt around the world today.
In September 2008 President George Bush could still describe the financial crisis as an incident local to Wall Street. In fact it was a dramatic caesura of global significance that spiraled around the world, from the financial markets of the UK and Europe to the factories and dockyards of Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, forcing a rearrangement of global governance. In the United States and Europe, it caused a fundamental reconsideration of capitalist democracy, eventually leading to the war in the Ukraine, the chaos of Greece, Brexit, and Trump.
It was the greatest crisis to have struck Western societies since the end of the Cold War, but was it inevitable? And is it over? Crashed is a dramatic new narrative resting on original themes: the haphazard nature of economic development and the erratic path of debt around the world; the unseen way individual countries and regions are linked together in deeply unequal relationships through financial interdependence, investment, politics, and force; the ways the financial crisis interacted with the spectacular rise of social media, the crisis of middle-class America, the rise of China, and global struggles over fossil fuels.
Finally, Tooze asks, given this history, what now are the prospects for a liberal, stable, and coherent world order?
by Barry Ritholtz
Bailout Nation offers one of the clearest looks at the financial lenders, regulators, and politicians responsible for the financial crisis of 2008. Written by Barry Ritholtz, one of today’s most popular economic bloggers and a well-established industry pundit, this book skillfully explores how the United States evolved from a rugged independent nation to a soft Bailout Nation-where financial firms are allowed to self-regulate in good times, but are bailed out by taxpayers in bad times.
Entertaining and informative, this book clearly shows you how years of trying to control the economy with easy money has finally caught up with the federal government and how its practice of repeatedly rescuing Wall Street has come back to bite them.
- The definitive book on the financial crisis of 2008
- Names the culprits responsible for this tragedy-from financial regulators to politicians
- Shows how each bailout throughout modern history has impacted what happened in the future
- Examines why the consumer/taxpayer is left suffering in an economy of bubbles, bailouts, and possible inflation
- Ritholtz operates a hugely popular blog, www.ritholtz.com/blog
Scathing, but fair, Bailout Nation is a voice of reason in these uncertain economic times.
The Power of Inaction
by Cornelia Woll
Bank bailouts in the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the onset of the Great Recession brought into sharp relief the power that the global financial sector holds over national politics, and provoked widespread public outrage. In The Power of Inaction, Cornelia Woll details the varying relationships between financial institutions and national governments by comparing national bank rescue schemes in the United States and Europe. Woll starts with a broad overview of bank bailouts in more than twenty countries. Using extensive interviews conducted with bankers, lawmakers, and other key players, she then examines three pairs of countries where similar outcomes might be expected: the United States and United Kingdom, France and Germany, Ireland and Denmark. She finds, however, substantial variation within these pairs. In some cases the financial sector is intimately involved in the design of bailout packages; elsewhere it chooses to remain at arm’s length.Such differences are often ascribed to one of two conditions: either the state is strong and can impose terms, or the state is weak and corrupted by industry lobbying. Woll presents a third option, where the inaction of the financial sector critically shapes the design of bailout packages in favor of the industry. She demonstrates that financial institutions were most powerful in those settings where they could avoid a joint response and force national policymakers to deal with banks on a piecemeal basis. The power to remain collectively inactive, she argues, has had important consequences for bailout arrangements and ultimately affected how the public and private sectors have shared the cost burden of these massive policy decisions.
The Ascent of Money
by Niall Ferguson
In this updated edition, Niall Ferguson brings his classic financial history of the world up to the present day, tackling the populist backlash that followed the 2008 crisis, the descent of “Chimerica” into a trade war, and the advent of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, with his signature clarity and expert lens.
The Ascent of Money reveals finance as the backbone of history, casting a new light on familiar events: the Renaissance enabled by Italian foreign exchange dealers, the French Revolution traced back to a stock market bubble, the 2008 crisis traced from America’s bankruptcy capital, Memphis, to China’s boomtown, Chongqing. We may resent the plutocrats of Wall Street but, as Ferguson argues, the evolution of finance has rivaled the importance of any technological innovation in the rise of civilization. Indeed, to study the ascent and descent of money is to study the rise and fall of Western power itself.
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.
The Fed and Lehman Brothers
by Laurence M. Ball
The System Worked
by Daniel W. Drezner
In The System Worked, Drezner, a renowned political scientist and international relations expert, contends that despite the massive scale and reverberations of this latest crisis (larger, arguably, than those that precipitated the Great Depression), the global economy has bounced back remarkably well. Examining the major resuscitation efforts by the G-20 IMF, WTO, and other institutions, he shows that, thanks to the efforts of central bankers and other policymakers, the international response was sufficiently coordinated to prevent the crisis from becoming a full-fledged depression. Yet the narrative about the failure of multilateral economic institutions persists, both because the Great Recession affected powerful nations whose governments managed their own economies poorly, and because the most influential policy analysts who write the books and articles on the crisis hail from those nations. Nevertheless, Drezner argues, while it’s true that the global economy is still fragile, these institutions survived the “stress test” of the financial crisis, and may have even become more resilient and valuable in the process.
Bucking the conventional wisdom about the new “G-Zero World,” Drezner rehabilitates the image of the much-maligned international institutions and demolishes some of the most dangerous myths about the financial crisis. The System Worked is a vital contribution to our understanding of an area where the stakes could not be higher.
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