Reflections on Financial Crises
Timothy F. Geithner
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New York Times Bestseller
Washington Post Bestseller
Los Angeles Times Bestseller
Stress Test is the story of Tim Geithner’s education in financial crises.
As president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and then as President Barack Obama’s secretary of the Treasury, Timothy F. Geithner helped the United States navigate the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, from boom to bust to rescue to recovery. In a candid, riveting, and historically illuminating memoir, he takes readers behind the scenes of the crisis, explaining the hard choices and politically unpalatable decisions he made to repair a broken financial system and prevent the collapse of the Main Street economy. This is the inside story of how a small group of policy makers—in a thick fog of uncertainty, with unimaginably high stakes—helped avoid a second depression but lost the American people doing it. Stress Test is also a valuable guide to how governments can better manage financial crises, because this one won’t be the last.
Stress Test reveals a side of Secretary Geithner the public has never seen, starting with his childhood as an American abroad. He recounts his early days as a young Treasury official helping to fight the international financial crises of the 1990s, then describes what he saw, what he did, and what he missed at the New York Fed before the Wall Street boom went bust. He takes readers inside the room as the crisis began, intensified, and burned out of control, discussing the most controversial episodes of his tenures at the New York Fed and the Treasury, including the rescue of Bear Stearns; the harrowing weekend when Lehman Brothers failed; the searing crucible of the AIG rescue as well as the furor over the firm’s lavish bonuses; the battles inside the Obama administration over his widely criticized but ultimately successful plan to end the crisis; and the bracing fight for the most sweeping financial reforms in more than seventy years. Secretary Geithner also describes the aftershocks of the crisis, including the administration’s efforts to address high unemployment, a series of brutal political battles over deficits and debt, and the drama over Europe’s repeated flirtations with the economic abyss.
Secretary Geithner is not a politician, but he has things to say about politics—the silliness, the nastiness, the toll it took on his family. But in the end, Stress Test is a hopeful story about public service. In this revealing memoir, Tim Geithner explains how America withstood the ultimate stress test of its political and financial systems.
From the Hardcover edition.
Outstanding insights and history--siege mentality at the end
The book starts with the author as a young man. The formative experiences that he lived through in foreign countries followed by the involvement in financial crises in his early civil service years shed light on his thinking and added credibility to his conclusions during the early years. The time at the New York Fed is probably the most insightful of the book. His inside portrayal of the Lehmann bankruptcy and other shocks is the most clear and cogent that I have read.
The descriptions of the first year or so in the Obama White House are a continuation of the previous four year--clear concise and logical. His principals of operation and the assimilation of the advice of his assistants and peers is well described.
Sadly, like many cabinet official memoirs, the grind of theatrical Washington politics begins to show through in the description of his last two years in office. Reading through this period is not difficult but it must be viewed with more circumspection than earlier chapters of the book.
I normally find epilogues to be a tedious waste of time-- either a rehash or an opportunity for self congratulations. I found neither to be true here. Unlike most, this section is worth investing a bit of extra time to read.
As mentioned above, the authors background and credentials as a Wall Street outsider helped quite a bit in putting many of his statements and conclusions in context.
Along with the books by Robert Rubin, Hank Paulsen, and Robert Reich, this is one of the best Cabinet Memoirs that I have read. There is some politicization of events, but far less than I am used to seeing in books by the list of cabinet wonks that are so prevalent.
Bad, just Bad
I didn't even know Geithner could read, much less write......
Thank you for Service.
I immensely enjoyed reading Mr. Geithner’s Stress Test. Economics and finance are often boring and dry, but they determine our values and direction as a civilization. Tim Geithner’s book is frank, accessible, relatable and instructive. It is required reading for all leaders because he gives a window into the United States governmental process, people and politics.
In what has been a divided time in our country, Geither provides some very helpful insight.