Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself
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Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  199 ratings  ·  55 reviews
“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...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Free Press (first published September 4th 2012)
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Srinivas Varadarajan
Sheila Bair's book is simple and direct. The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008 was an inherently complex affair and the responses to deal with it were equally complex and controversial. This book is user friendly and tries to demystify the arcane matter. Sheila's approach to regulation and rule making has been led by common sense with the interest of home-owners and main-street at heart.

Sheila has been critical of the actions of officials in the collegium of regulators. Especially at the re...more
Juliana
Sep 26, 2012 Juliana marked it as to-read
Really interested in reading this, but what a horrible cover! Who was responsible for that? When I saw the little preview icon of it, I honestly thought I must be mistaken and I hadn't found the correct book, because it looked like the cover of a steampunk novel.
Breakingviews
By Antony Currie

There is one clear and simple message from “Bull by the Horns,” Sheila Bair’s account of her five years in charge of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp: financial regulators still need a good kick up the backside. Bair is not one to pull her punches - she delivers her poor opinion of several financial CEOs in the first couple of pages of her tell-all, and doesn’t stop there in her critiques of America’s banking system.

Much of her ire, though, is reserved for fellow watchdog...more
Kimberly Goulart
In Bull by the Horns, Shelia Bair introduces the reader to the key players that will dominate the pages to come, and sets the scene (a refresher for some) for the greatest financial meltdown that will plague our financial system since the Great Recession.

Regardless of politics, and Bair makes many attempts to remind you that she is a credible conservative (a Bush II appointee), she artfully explains the crisis from the perspective of the FDIC. The FDIC can be seem as the ugly step-sister or the...more
Alvin
Solid, fascinating account of the politics and decisions made during the financial crisis from the perspective of the head of the FDIC. I thought reading this book would make me mad. It did not. It made me furious.

Sheila pulls no punches and names names, including poorly managed institutions, individuals and agencies who worked at cross purposes. All the dysfunction and infighting you're familiar with at your own company? Imagine that on a government wide scale, with an industry that has most o...more
Dan Raymo
A great, surprisingly candid recap of the financial crisis by the former head of the FDIC. It offers a good picture of how both functional and dysfunctional our government can be and why. I didn't really like the title though -- I might have gone for something that hit more accurately on the main thrusts of the book:

Suggestion 1: Why I want to Bash Tim Geithner's Head in with a Two-hole Punch - She really let's Tim have it in this book, exposing him as the corporate shill he appears to be. She r...more
Joseph
I enjoyed the author's account of her time in Washington during the financial crisis. As other reviewer's have mentioned, she writes clearly and directly and gives the reader an understanding of the difficulty a Republican public servant had in a supposedly pro-consumer Democratic administration! Two important conclusions (offered tongue-in-cheek) is that she is not a customer of Citibank (she absolutely eviscerates Citibank's management ) and thinks that Tim Geithner is the anti-christ of an ef...more
Tom Comte
This book, published in 2012, chronicles Bair’s tenure as head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the regulatory agency that insures our bank deposits and has authority to close, wind down the business and sell banks that are failing. The book covers her taking over the agency in 2006 and her subsequent 5 year term ending in 2011. This was the period that saw the run-up to the recession and all the subsequent financial failures, bailouts and recession.

The book is a “tell all” and esse...more
Meepspeeps
I've read several books on the financial crisis and thought this book did a good job of explaining the role of the FDIC, interagency debate and conflict, and what it's like to be involved in managing a crisis among government decision makers. What I didn't like was her almost-vendetta against Timothy Geithner. She brought up his wrong decisions, lack of leadership, lack of commitment to the mission of the NY Fed and subsequently the mission of the US Treasury, and lack of integrity. I think she...more
Patrdr
What a tough minded person! This interesting book provide a specific insides perspective on the financial crisis from the vantage point of one regulator. From the outside the US looks to have a hodge-podge of regulators, all of them subject to having congress layer on roles, and rules, and constraints.

The FDIC, mainly charged with insuring deposits of US banks, looks like the natural home for the most down to earth of regulators. They will want to ensure that banks are safe and sound and that th...more
Crease
"If you don't understand the problem, you definitely won't understand the solution." Though I can't quite remember to whom I owe credit for this quote, I can tell you with absolute certainty which of the multiple books I've read on the collapse and recovery of our banking and economic system does the best job of explaining both the problems that led to our economic crisis, as well as the attempted solutions, mostly regulation, to make sure we don't find ourselves there again.

In an interesting j...more
Ron Davis
Ms Bair served as head of FDIC for four years under W. and one year under O. This book has a wee bit of Ms Bair's history, and a great dollop of the in-fighting she encountered from the Fed and from Treasury. This was, we should recall, the time just before and just after the great sub-prime mortgage collapse. The issues causing the collapse received some attention, even though the focus was on financial reform, opposed tooth and nail by the now-rather-discredited (if you read the financial news...more
Johnsergeant
I liked this audiobook a lot. I'm impressed by Sheila Bair. I'm surprised she's a Republican - she seems much more progessive than that. The only part I didn't like is towards the end where she starts talking about the deficit - she trots out the usual deficit scold nonsense.

Narrated by Joyce Bean

16 hrs and 48 mins

Publisher's Summary

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...more
Max
The saga continues. Big financial institutions continue to have spectacular failures. The housing market still has not recovered. Despite the most accommodative monetary policy in history, the economy is struggling to recover under crippling fiscal austerity. Shelia Bair's insider's view of the 2007 financial crisis is an honest insightful account of a self-inflicted economic tragedy. Taxpayers continue to suffer because two Treasury Secretaries, Paulson and Geithner, bailed out investment banks...more
Alex Harsha-strong
This is worth reading even though Sheila Bair spends 1/2 the book railing against financial executives, fellow regulator heads and everyone else outside the FDIC. She breaks down the financial crisis into pretty basic parts and explains the roles of the servicers, brokers, banks, investors, regulators, and consumers. Her ability to speak in simplistic terms makes this book easy-to-read and understand. At times, she glosses over significant issues and places the blame on 'investors' even though t...more
Julian Haigh
While anyone could pick this up and with a bit of concentration understand what was going on, effort will likely be required to catalog both bureaucratic acronym (FDIC, OCC, TARP, FHFA...)and people and companies. Emphasizing the decision-making process of the 2008 bank bail-out, it was an eye opening account (for me) and I have developed a strong dislike for Tim Geitner.

Note to Sheila Bair. First: thank you for writing the book, I really enjoyed it; and second: please include an list of major a...more
UChicagoLaw
"This is a detailed treatment of the causes of the financial crisis and especially the facts, and follies, of the ensuing bailouts. Baer was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Institutions from 2001 to 2003, and then during the crisis and bailout periods chaired the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, one the main federal financial regulatory agencies. She tells all and spares nobody. Read what she thinks of Geithner, Bernanke and, for example, the recently deposed head of Citi...more
Jon
Dec 27, 2012 Jon added it
In Bull by the Horns Sheila Bair recounts her experience as FDIC chair from 2006 to 2011, a messy time for Washington and the banking industry. Bair comes out swinging (rightly so) at Tim Geithner and Citigroup, and her suggestions at the end of the book for fixing the system are perfect. Let me list a few of her ideas here:

- Raise capital requirements
- Maintain the ban on bailouts
- Break up the megabanks
- Require an insurable interest for credit default swaps
- Impose an assessment or tax on lar...more
Chet
Nov 02, 2012 Chet rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Economic nerds
I found this book to be extremely comprehensive, it filled out the form of the larger range of players who contributed to the 2008 banking crisis. Offered is further data as to just how comprehensive the control is of those who support unrestricted banking for those larger entities.
The consumer beware is hardly the point it's so what if the consumer is aware! That is the state as described by Sheila Bair who was in a key position to see this bais first hand.
I recommend this book for anyone who w...more
Mof
Maybe the best first person book on the financial crisis. Blair has sound intuition about the causes of the banking crisis and some well thought out solutions.
She is not afraid to name some of the villians.
Michael
I've read probably a dozen books on the Financial Meltdown of 2008 and this book really helped fill in the missing pieces. As a Republican, Sheila Bair comes off as smart, level headed and focused on the little guy - some thing I can say most GOP folks do not posses. Anyway she balances the need for Regulations and open markets to punish bad business behavior, however at every turn Geitner and many in Congress undermined her quest for stiffer rules. The game is rigged for the wealthy bankers and...more
Dan Petegorsky
Bair’s is the latest in a series of insider accounts by former Hill and Federal agency staff of the financial meltdown and its aftermath, and it stands head and shoulders above the rest. It’s something of a policy wonk’s jeremiad, leveling sustained and withering critiques of those public officials (especially Tim Geithner and the OCC’s John Dugan and John Walsh) who saw their job as protecting Wall Street more than Main Street. Where Neil Barofsky’s book is more of a flash grilling, Bair gives...more
Ana
Finally finished reading it. It was a very slow read. Although well written and easy to understand it, at times, felt that it was too much name dropping and whining. I actually really enjoyed the end of the book which demonstrates the author's ability to write to the masses (not only for those people who are immersed in the financial industry and understand the concepts, but also for the lay person who may not know all the intricacies of how we arrived at the place we are today). I would give it...more
Darius
The first half of this book provides an interesting look at how things played out during the "great recession", from the viewpoint of one player. It's interesting and useful to see some of the dynamics behind the way government works. The second half of the book was less interesting, and I gave up at the 80% mark. I did not read Bair's prescriptions for what long-term changes the country ought to adopt, so I cannot comment on that...but, I'm pretty sure it would be a conservative but statist app...more
Beth
I highly recommend this book! One - Ms. Bair provides great insight into her perspective on the Financial Crisis of 2008. She is amazingly frank and open with her commentary. Secondly, it provides a good luck at the difficulties women in powerful positions, be it Government or Business, experience. These difficulties come from juggling family responsibilities and dealing with what is still "a man's world." Thanks for being so open with us, Ms. Bair.
Heather Beach
Excellent. Sheila Bair walks the center aisle magnificently and with logic and common sense. A life long Republican and subscriber to Reagan-esque small government ideals, she also resoundingly reminds us that the mandate of a regulator is to protect the general interest of the economy at large. And by that she resoundingly means the interests of the general public, not the endless earning potential of the financial sector.
Mike
very interesting and personal history, with good, simple explanations of complex financial products and policies, and how they relate to "main street". It's long and detailed, but she writes clearly and with some humor. She takes good positions, and fights for them; she may not always be right, but she's usually arguing for the right things. Sheila Bair for [something]. Probably not president, but maybe chairman of the Fed.
Dick Cass
Highly entertaining and clearly written alternate view of the 2006-present financial follies, from the point of view of the former head of the FDIC. Tim Geithner comes across as little more than a shill for Citigroup throughout and Bair raises interesting questions about how little an Obama presidency has done to wean the big financial institutions from the public, well, you know.
Anthony Faber
A narrative history of Shiela Bair's term at the FDIC with blow-by-blow accounts of the various battles over bailouts, rules etc. Similar to Andrew Ross Sorkin's "Too Big to Fail" but from her viewpoint alone.
A good primer on how the various banking safety nets work and she has a chapter at the end on how they can be made better.
Sam
Sheila Bair has a simple, straightforward writing style which I needed considering she was writing about complex financial instruments that seem like a foreign language to me. I enjoyed the book a lot. She doesn't pull any punches, is opinionated and leaves one a little scared about the future of our country. Glad I read it!
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