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Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Sheila Bair

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25. September 2012
“When Sheila Bair took over as head of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2006, the agency was probably better known for the ‘FDIC’ logo on the doors of the nation’s banks than for anything it did. Now Bair is at the center of the financial crisis, speeding the takeover of failing banks and pressing the mortgage industry to ease loan terms . . . winning praise from Democrats and Republicans.” —BLOOMBERG NEWS, October 3, 2008

Sheila Bair is widely acknowledged in government circles and the media as one of the first people to identify and accurately assess the subprime crisis. Appointed by George W. Bush as the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in 2006, she witnessed the origins of the financial crisis and in 2008 became—along with Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, and Timothy Geithner—one of the key players trying to repair the damage to our 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.

A level-headed, pragmatic figure with a clear focus on serving the public good, Bair was often one of the few women in the room during heated discussions about the economy. Despite her years of experience and her determination to rein in the private banks and Wall Street, she frequently found herself at odds with Geithner. She is withering in her assessment of some of Wall Street’s finest, and her narrative of Citibank’s attempted takeover of Wachovia is a stinging indictment of how regulators and the banks worked against the public interest at times to serve their own needs.

Bair is steadfast in her belief that the American public needs to fully understand the crisis in order to bring it to an end. Critical of the bank bailouts and the Can. $29.99 lax regulation that led to the economic crash, she provides a sober analysis as well as a practical plan for how we should move forward. She helps clear away the myths and half-truths about how we ran our economic engine into the ditch and tells us how we can help get our financial and regulatory systems back on track.

As The New Yorker said, “Bair has consistently stood out for her skepticism of Wall Street and for her eagerness to confront the big banks. A Kansas Republican, she has become an unlikely hero to economic liberals, who see her as the counterweight to the more Wall Street–centric view often ascribed to Timothy Geithner, the Treasury Secretary” (July 6, 2009).

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“When Sheila Bair took over as head of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2006, the agency was probably better known for the ‘FDIC’ logo on the doors of the nation’s banks than for anything it did. Now Bair is at the center of the financial crisis, speeding the takeover of failing banks and pressing the mortgage industry to ease loan terms. . . . winning praise from Democrats and Republicans.” (Bloomberg News)

“The FDIC’s influence has grown in the past year because of Ms. Bair’s willingness to challenge her peers, as well as her agency's central role responding to the financial crisis. Ms. Bair warned about the housing crisis before many of her colleagues.” (The Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2009)

“Bair is everything you'd want in a public servant: thoughtful, practical, independent-minded—a straight shooter with political savvy who can manage the details of policy without losing sight of the big picture. She's no grandstander, but she isn't shy about going public with concerns if she thinks it will help her inside game. She never forgets that her most important constituency isn't the thousands of banks she regulates but the millions of Americans who use them.” (Steven Pearlstein Pulitzer-prize winning Washington Post columnist, June 18, 2008)

“During the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, Sheila Bair has been the little guy's protector in chief.” (Time Magazine, April 30, 2009)

“A crisp, telling and often funny narrative of the 2008 meltdown.” (John Wasik Forbes)

"Bull By the Horns is the story of financial calamity seen from the perspective of this public servant, rendered from detailed notes. We learn with whom she met, what was said, what decisions taken, and how things turned out….This is a book for aficionados of infuriating detail.
Yet beneath the froth of facts courses an epic struggle. It pits Sheila Bair and the civil servants of the FDIC on one side and [Timothy Geithner] on the other.” (James Galbraith)

“[Sheila Bair] is an excellent choice as the most experienced as well as principled candidate to head the SEC or Treasury… [and] her outstanding book Bull by the Horns… should be required reading for the president and those who are advising him on selecting his new economic team.” (Robert Scheer TruthDig)

“If you can read just one book on the financial crisis, this should be it.” (Financial Executive)

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Sheila Bair is the former Chairman of the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). She has been covered—and lauded—everywhere from The New Yorker to The Washington Post to The Wall Street Journal, and in 2008 and 2009 Forbes named her the second-most powerful woman in the world. Prior to assuming her post at the FDIC, Bair served as assistant secretary for financial institutions at the US Department of the Treasury and as senior vice president for government relations of the New York Stock Exchange.

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190 von 204 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Important and Credible - 25. September 2012
Von Loyd E. Eskildson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The FDIC was created in 1933 to stabilize the banking system after depositor runs forced thousands of banks to close during the Great Depression. It has since done for for more than 70 years. Sheila Bair had worked as legal counsel for Senator Dole, commissioner and acting chairman of the CFTC, and headed government relations for the NYSE prior to being asked by Bush II to take the lead at the FIDC in 2006. At the time it employed about 4,500 and had a billion-dollar operating budget; in 1995 the staff totaled 12,000 - partly necessary and partly the result of the deregulatory dogma that infected Washington and led by luminaries such as Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin. Ms. Bair soon became one of the first to war of the risk of sub-prime loans; her 'Bull by the Horns' provides unique insight into the greatest financial crisis the U.S. faced since the Great Depression.

In mid-October, 2008, Treasury Secretary Paulson persuaded nine major bank CEOs representing about $9 trillion in assets to go along with a $125 billion TARP bailout. Bair's opinion was that only Citibank needed the help - that the big program was simply a cover-up to shield it from more focused public glare. (Citi ultimately required three bailouts.) Previously she had derailed Geithner and Citibank CEO Pandit's plans to buy Wachovia with financial assistance from the FDIC, instead supporting Wells Fargo's acquisition w/o government assistance. Her opinion was that the last thing the FDIC needed was two mismanaged banks merging. Pandit had gotten the position via support from Robert Rubin - formerly he'd been a hedge fund manager with a mixed record and knew little about banking.

Later, under Geithner, came the large-bank stress tests. Again, Bair contends this was primarily a means to help cover-up special help to Citibank, as well as just a ruse intended to allow rule manipulation for other banks that should have been disciplined by the market.

Bair isn't shy offering her opinions about the rest of the leading bankers at that meeting. She saw Ken Lewis, head of BAC, as lacking deal-maker skills - he'd overpaid for Countrywide and Merrill Lynch. The smartest - Jamie Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase. John Thain, new Merrill Lynch CEO, earned Bair's disdain by worrying about restrictions on executive compensation. As for Tim Geither - she saw him as 'a tool' of the big banks.

As for the bailout - Bair would have preferred to impose discipline on those needed it by firing their managers and boards, and forcing them to sell their bad assets. AIG, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns were badly managed, per Bair. (She did agree with the AIG bailout, though saw it as overly generous - all of its counter-parties received 100%.)

Bair believes we should downsize our megabanks, and notes that PE ratios for the 'supersizers' (Citigroup, Bank of America, and J.P. Morgan) are considerably lower than their more focused rivals such as Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp.

As for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act enacted in July, 2010, she wonders why nothing much seems to have changed. We've since had MF Global's bankruptcy, J.P. Morgan's 'London Whale' losses, Barclay's rate fixing, and Peregrine Financial's fraud. We're still believing the 'self-correcting' markets mantra, that financial institutions will do the right thing despite the opportunity to line their pockets doing the wrong thing. Instead of regulators just saying 'No,' they try to placate lobbyists by creating clarifications and exceptions, resulting in indecipherable rules that are hundreds, even thousands of pages long. These rules then serve a competitive barriers that keep out smaller institutions that cannot afford the legal help to decipher them. The lobbyist who sought all these clarifications and exceptions then ridicule the regulators for drowning the industry in red tape.

On Bernanke's maintaining interest rates at or near zero, she notes we've had interest rates at or near zero for four years - even though the financial system has been relatively stable since 2009. This will create a bond bubble. The biggest beneficiaries - profligate elected officials who refuse to come to grips with budget deficits and an exemption-laden tax code. To those arguing that Japan has kept rates low while running up huge debts, she points out that it enjoys a trade surplus and its debt is held domestically. We have persistent trade deficits and foreigners hold over half our public debt.

Bear Stearns should have failed, not given to Jamie Dimon as a Christmas present.

Bair and the FDIC made three attempts to have mortgage relief provided for homeowners as a means of preventing massive defaults and lowered home values. She begins this topic by explaining some of the legal complications. The process is made more complicated by securitization - separating those that owned the mortgages from those responsible for restructuring them. Modifying mortgages can be a time-consuming process that the processors weren't paid extra for; worse, the servicers were required to continue advancing mortgage payments in the event of a default until foreclosed. Perhaps worst of all, any negotiated reduction in payments would be shared among all tranches, whereas a default only hit those holding the bottom tranches - thus, those in the upper tranches were likely to sue to prevent modifications.

Bair attempted to have monies, first from TARP, then other sources, to overcome this opposition. However, a combination of foot-dragging by Hank Paulson and then Tim Geithner, combined with some demagoguing from the industry and bureaucratic requirements from Treasury, delayed and then hamstrung her efforts. Only about 500,000 were helped, instead of the 3-4 million targeted.

Bair's recommendations: Raise bank capital requirements, maintain the Dodd-Frank ban on bailouts, break up the overly-complex banks (some of the biggest), require an insurable interest for credit default swaps, abolish the OCC, combine the SEC and CFTC, abolish Freddie and Fannie, stop subsidizing leverage (via capital) via the tax code, tax earned and investment income at the same rate, and reduce the national debt.
66 von 71 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen best book yet on the financial crisis 25. September 2012
Von MAH - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I just picked up "Bull by the Horns" to get a first-hand recounting of the financial crisis and a behind-the-scenes look at the cast of characters involved, and have already found so much more. It's a fast-paced, eye-opening read that relays important lessons about the causes of and responses to the crisis, and combines them with common-sense policy recommendations. Using the same straight-forward, direct style that served her well as the head of the FDIC, Bair in her book takes the reader past the technical jargon of banking and into a forward-looking, easy-to-understand discussion of how each and every one of us is affected by financial policy. Additionally, she sets the record straight on many of the misconceptions about the financial crisis. "Bull by the Horns" is a great, informative read.
50 von 56 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Real Person in Washington: guts & thruth 26. September 2012
Von N N Taleb - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I don't have time for a full review for now; all I have to say is that we have the account of a person who says it the way it was, revealing the types of truths that don't fit the New York Times and others pawns. When history is written, this will be used, not the spin by the bankers' slaves and soldiers (Geithner, Rubin et al.) Bravo Sheila!
44 von 50 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen At last; the view of someone actually in the room 25. September 2012
Von presto14 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I have read a lot of the financial meltdown books written by journalists who have taken copious notes from a myriad of interviews. But what they are getting of course is someone else's viewpoint, excuses and/or 'spin' as to why things went as badly as they did. I pity the poor scribe who has to sort it all out & discover what really happened. That is why a book by Sheila Bair is so important. She was there. She saw it coming. And she is just about the only (no, she was the only), person in the room who has come out looking good. She is honest in her assessments, straightforward in her analysis and she doesn't hold back. The same attributes that served her well in her five years in steering the FDIC through stormy seas. If you are only going to read one book about the Great Recession, this is the one.
34 von 38 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Straight Story from the Inside 26. September 2012
Von Mike - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Ms. Bair's book provides something rare in all of the many books written about the financial crisis - a clear-eyed look at the decision-making during the financial crisis and its aftermath. As many have recognized, Sheila Bair consistently argued that real solutions to the financial crisis and financial regulatory reform had to be based on a simple principle - a free market demands transparency and exposure to risk and loss. Bailing out the biggest banks - while it may have been necessary in the teeth of the crisis given Bear Stearns example and the absence of a realistic resolution process - simply proved that investors could privatize the profits while socializing the losses. This book carefully goes through the complicated discussions at the heart of the critical decisions during the crisis - from the initial debates over subprime mortgages to Lehman and the 2008 crisis through the adoption of Dodd-Frank. As the book details, Sheila Bair consistently sought to ensure that homeowners had a fair chance and investors and big banks had to absorb losses in a free market. She reflects that hers were not popular views in the halls of power.

The book describes a series of missed opportunities to return the principles of risk and reward to the markets that could have led to earlier responses to the building bubble - by, for example, taking more seriously the subprime debacle that began to hit the markets in early 2007. Ms. Bair also shows how an abiding concern by some other policy-makers over market disruptions if creditors had to absorb losses drove US financial policy through 2008 - 2010. This fear of exposing the biggest banks and investors to loss led to a series of ever more aggressive protections for the biggest banks and to debates over Dodd-Frank. Fortunately, Ms. Bair led the charge to make sure that the liquidation authority in Dodd-Frank had teeth and could not be used for future bail-outs of financial companies - now they would have to be closed and creditors bear the losses. Unfortunately, the fear that some other policy makers had about asking the banks and their creditors to suffer any losses led to public outrage over bail-outs and to continuing political issues that have forestalled and sometimes perversely hamstrung reform. The discussions about the debates over new capital raises in 2009 and the Treasury's initial proposals to keep authority to do bail-outs in its first draft of reform legislation are particularly important for an understanding of where we are today.

The book is particularly good at describing complex financial discussions in an understandable and clear way while avoiding overly simplifying the key issues. While some will disagree with positions that Sheila Bair took as FDIC Chairman, she will be remembered as a straight shooter who was willing to buck the `old boys' network' to fight for what she believed. This book is an excellent description of what it was like to pursue that fight from the inside.
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