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Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  1,145 ratings  ·  174 reviews
In telling of his stranger-than-fiction baptism into the corrupted ways of Washington, Barofsky offers an irrefutable indictment, from an insider of the Bush & Obama administrations, of the mishandling of the $700 billion TARP bailout fund. In behind-the-scenes detail, he shows the extreme degree to which government officials bent over backward to serve the interests o ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 24th 2012 by Free Press/Simon & Schuster, Inc. (NYC) (first published October 21st 2010)
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Community Reviews

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William Thomas
Behold, Neil Barofsky is the Second Coming of Christ! Witness as he is led into the temple and overturns the money-changers' tables! Watch as he is nearly crucified in Columbia! Gaze at the pinnacle of moral superiority in a corrupt world!

Jesus H. Christ. This book is nothing more than an autobiography of Barofsky's life over the last 10 years or so. It is not, as billed, a history of, nor a socio-political analysis of, nor a thorough examination of the bailouts it claims to be. Instead, what we
Frank Stein

One of the best descriptions of Washington I have ever read.

To start off I have to say that, despite the title, the least interesting parts of the book are actually those in which Neil Barofsky, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), describes the intricacies of how the Treasury, under both Bush and Obama, shoveled more money to undeserving firms, granted banks unnecessary tax privileges, and exacerbated the foreclosure crisis with poorly designed programs
Eric Murphy
A non-ideological look at how the bailout was a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers to Wall Street banks (assisted by both administrations' Treasury Departments) that vindicates equally the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, written by the top official in charge of policing fraud in the bailout program. The conclusion says it all: "I now realize that the American people *should* lose faith in their government. They *should* deplore the captured politicians and regulators who took their taxp ...more
Athan Tolis
As much fun as you can possibly have finding out about the inner workings of government.

Not much, then, but still an awesome account. This is a book about two friends who took on the Washington establishment and lost. But they won enough battles along the way to make this a fun read.

Neil Barofsky had a very strong background to become the inspector general of TARP. However, he took a bit too long to realise TARP was but a thinly veiled vehicle to shore up the capital of America's biggest banks a
Erik Graff
Mar 05, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: US citizens
Recommended to Erik by: Erik Badger
This distressing book, authored by the former Inspector General in charge of overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program that followed our last depression, is easier to read than one might think, Barofsky nesting his discussion of economic issues in an engaging narrative description of his years in Washington, D.C.

What one learns, overall, is that national politics is substantially dominated by the largest financial institutions. This was as true during the Bush administration as during Obama'
Even though by now we know most what Neil Barofsky packs into his book, Bailout: How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street, it remains worth reading as an in-depth, consolidated account of how the Bush and Obama administrations pretended to be supporting overwhelmed home owners while pumping hundreds of billions into America's top-heavy "financial system," led by big banks that have only grown since they helped generate the deepest recession we have known since the Great De ...more
What an articulate,interesting, and well-written book about the TARP bailout which affected every person in the US as well as generations to come! Geithner and other bankers were so arrogant that they thought that the problems and big finance were too complex for ordinary people to understand. Wrong! Barofsky explains the basic problems and gives examples of the problems with TARP and other federal goverment programs. He contends that the programs were good ideas but did not contain enough speci ...more
Mr. Barofsky, a young prosecutor in the New York U. S. Attorney's office, was drafted to be the Treasury's Inspector General of the TARP funds. His book details his idealistic approach to his work, his initial naivete about the ways of Washington and the motivations of many of its denizens, and his efforts to cut through the misinformation, foolishness, and outright lies of the agency he monitored. Clearly, he brought to the table an intelligence, toughness, and sense of responsibility that few ...more
If you're interested in the bailout rather than how we got into this crisis in the first place you should definitely read this book.

I've been doing a lot of reading about the crisis and the aftermath, but there was still a lot that was new to me. I hadn't realized just how disorganized Treasury was or how involved the White House was in covering Treasury's ass at the expense of the taxpayers.

Apparently the real purpose of HAMP wasn't to help homeowners at all, but to slow down the defaults to
Everyone should read this book. TV's HBO ought to amend the end-phrasing of "Too Big to Fail" where they state TARP funds have been repaid and instruct Sorkin to write Treasury's 'criminal' acts into the story line of his new "Newsroom" series. The US Treasury ought to be dismantled by revolution as they represent an extension of the worst kind of human nature and a deadly sin. There is no long-term strategy in a democracy of election cycles where only the legal and banking systems persevere and ...more
I will begin by saying that I was and still am against T.A.R.P.. With that being said, it was passed and we had it. Neil Barofsky is a Democrat and donated to the Obama campaign in 2008. He was nominated as Inspector General of T.A.R.P. by President Bush and was confirmed by both sides with barely any incident.

Barofsky nails it in this book. He starts by being critical of the Bush administration and then states that he is hopping that the new administration (Obama) and his appointments will be
Donald Morris
Barofsky was the Special Inspector General in charge of TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program. TARP was the government's response to the financial crisis that shook the international economic structure in the fall of 2008. Barofsky's first-hand account tells the story of his attempts to remain independent of politics and warn Congress and the Treasury of potential fraud in the distribution of the billions of taxpayer dollars targeted initially at helping homeowners but quickly redirected to he ...more

In this bracing, page-turning account of his stranger-than-fiction baptism into the corrupted ways of Washington, Neil Barofsky offers an irrefutable indictment, from an insider of the Bush and Obama administrations, of the mishandling of the $700 billion TARP bailout fund. In vivid behind-the-scenes detail, he reveals proof of the extreme degree to which our government officials bent over backward to serve the interests of Wall Street firms at the expense of the broader public—and at the expen

This book confirms my worst suspicions about the Wall Street bailouts. From the bailouts with few strings attached, to the Wall Street executives' billions in bonuses, to the AIG bailout paying the banks 100 cents on the dollar for CDS contracts worth about half that, Treasury always helped the banks at the expense of everyone else. Treasury continually resisted and stonewalled the efforts of the Special Inspector General (SIG) to protect taxpayers and limit the potential for fraud in the progra ...more
Drew Mochak
A must-read for any American. The obvious temptation here is to bog the narative down with rambling, unproovable he-said, she-said accounts of meetings wherein person X said to person Y a seemingly harmless phrase that, once you read another five books on the unspoken code of Washington politics, actually means something sinister unless it doesn't or he made it all up. Another common trope of "insider" wallstreet books is to obscure the issue with constant parades of data, figures, graphs and mu ...more
This book was at times very dry, and I also wondered from time to time why Barofsky thought his point required an entire book... but I still found it a worthwhile read.

Whether we realize it or not, the government bailouts affected everyone in the United States, and a good amount of the people around the world. That does make it important, I think, for people to have at least a shallow understanding of the forces that shape the economy and our financial system. I think more people should pay atte
1 star for the wooden prose and the incessant need to tattle on government officials who may have insulted the author during his role in Washington (Tim Geithner, Herb Allison, Eric Thorson, and many others) by describing instances of insults, profanity-laced conversations, and failure to be given the deference the author felt was his due mar the 5-star expose of how capitalism allows for the privatization of profits but the socialization of losses. The descriptions of the various programs our g ...more
The personal story of the Special Investigator General for TARP (US bailout of banks, mostly). I will have to stop reading these books. I know enough to be worried but not enough to figure out if I should do anything (or if anything can be done). I think the banks had to be bailed out, but the terms could have been better and we haven't really fixed any of the problems. It's not really new that helping taxpayers gets the news items but not any real programs. It's not really new that there are mu ...more
May 28, 2015 Zan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zan by: dad
[ my dad bought me this book. hi dad. thanks dad. bye dad. ]

[content thoughts]

--the economic crisis of 2008 is large and involves numbers outside of meaningful human comprehension. 300 billion and 100 dollars take up the same space, typographically. I can't even visualize 100 cupcakes. my friend robin tells me that numbers may not even exist and if they do, are they synthetic or natural, and does that even matter(?)

--remember the crazy days of TARP? OK... how about HAMP? ...The CPP? Neil Barofs
This sad tale is enough to make anyone weep at the deceptions, abuses, and incompetencies when Wall Street and Washington combine to take advantage of the American taxpayer. If even half of what Barofsky says is true, our way of life is on a fast track to destruction, from an internal enemy: the unchecked greed of the capitalist.

I can't give it five stars because I get the unmistakable impression that Barofsky, like Pilate, had the power to change things, and instead of washing his hands like th
John Branney
Here is another one of those books that I put in the category as a tell all, shameless commercial exploitation. The author worked for the government during the bailouts so he decided to write a book. Oh boy, another one! The author had intimate knowledge of many things, including the diabolical politics and conniving that goes with Washington DC, so what does he write about? The bulk of the book covers the diabolical politics and conniving in Washington DC, not much else. AS IF WE DID NOT KNOW! ...more
We learn from the Inspector General of TARP how Wall Street utterly destroyed the economy by lying and stealing from homeowners, got bailed out by politicians with corporate connections, gave almost none of that money to the homeowners who got screwed, and funneled billions to the banks who screwed us over so they could give it to their CEOs in the form of bonuses.
I learn to hate Timothy Geithner in particular and love Elizabeth Warren more than ever.
Although the book was written by a Democrat,
A maddening account of how the Geithner regime at Treasury mishandled the aftermath of the global financial crisis from the watchdog responsible for monitoring TARP. Very readable, good explanations of some of the complicated deals the Treasury Department made with banks and mortgage lenders. Would have rated it higher but I found the bits of personal narrative a bit too pat and cinematic, like he's angling for a movie deal. Still, worth reading for the substance and a clear picture of how Treas ...more
John Greanias
This book is a MUST READ for everyone who wants to know how things really work in Washington. Many excellent books have been published regarding the financial crisis which erupted in 2008, but most of them are written by outsiders. The author of "Bailout", Neil Barofsky, bravely writes as an insider and he does not hesitate to "call out" political appointees who badly mismanaged the effort to use public funds to reset the economy. His theme is self-evident from the events he relates. Washington ...more
Jul 24, 2012 Danielle marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction
Saw this author on CNN and it sounds like a Must Read book.
I didn't realize when I started this book that Barofsky is some sort of politician (despite his feeble cries to be just an innocent ingenue who was seemingly randomly selected to be the head of a department overseeing a trillion dollar program). It clearly shows through. Knowing he's a politician, it's obvious that this book is not any kind of examination of bailouts or a history of the bailout - it's basically just an overview of why everyone in Washington is horrible except Neil Barofsky and t ...more
If, in the last few years, you have read the occasional Huffington Post or New York Times article concerning the great bungling of the 2008 Bailout, this book won't offer much new in terms of analysis or objective information. It does go into greater depth than most general-consumption news stories, unfortunately getting bogged down in wonkiness at times as a result.

What's relatively fresh is the insider perspective on the petty culture of Washington's insider politics and some of the personalit
Sagar Jethani
Neil Barofsky, Former Inspector General of TARP, has written a piercing memoir about the naked collusion between Washington and Wall Street. As IG, Barofsky's role was to ensure that the $700 billion in bailout funds was spent properly, and to identify and prosecute any fraud discovered in its distribution. Rather than receive assistance from Treasury in his task, he recounts a shocking litany of examples in which taxpayer funds intended to provide relief to homeowners and borrowers were quietly ...more
Bailout as very frustrating to read. Not because it was poorly written, quite the opposite; I though the book was a smooth read. No it was frustrating to catch a glimpse of the turmoils one has to weed through to navigate the bureaucracy in Washington to get some meaningful change implemented. This hint of the troubles involved opens the window to see how inefficient and troubling it is for any kind of effective reform.

What concerns me the most, though, is that the given the challenges and the m
After reading a fourth book about the financial crisis, I figured I would be done kicking that dead horse. Yes, the system had failed utterly and completely and no, no one seemed to care. Things have moved on to business as worse-than-usual, and everyone seems OK with that.

Barofsky’s book, however, pulled me back in. It’s an insider account, from the government’s side, of his time as the Inspector General for TARP, aka the Wall Street bailout. The others that I’ve read were all focused on the b
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Assessing Treasury’s Process to Sell Warrants Received from TARP Recipients

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