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Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  3,701 ratings  ·  360 reviews

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 Depress

Kindle Edition, 592 pages
Published May 12th 2014 by Crown (first published January 1st 2014)
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Sherlyn Yes, I mostly certainly agree with you. There are also too many characters, which I absolutely cannot keep track of. It is also very technical,…moreYes, I mostly certainly agree with you. There are also too many characters, which I absolutely cannot keep track of. It is also very technical, although, he did provide explanations for some. Unfortunately, I do not think this is a book an average man on the street would appreciate.(less)

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4.03  · 
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 ·  3,701 ratings  ·  360 reviews

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Every financial crisis is a crisis of confidence.
-Tim Geithner

You could take [the CEO of Goldman Sachs] Lloyd Blankfein into a dark alley and slit his throat, and it would satisfy them for about two days. Then the blood lust would rise again.
-Former President Bill Clinton, to the author

Timothy Geithner has the unusual habit of showing up in the middle of international crises. His time as head of the New York Federal Reserve and as the Secretary of the Treasury had placed him at the center of the
Unelected Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner had more influence on the thoughts and motivations, successes and failures of ordinary Americans than Congress ever did in the years he was in office. While Congress played politics (and not very well at that), Geithner did a lot (some might say too much) with his global role as fire extinguisher.

And who was he? Those of us just watching his pronouncements and public speeches, or feeling the impact of his decisions really did not have a good
Vicar Sayeedi
May 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
High Marks for Firefighting. Low Marks for Fire Prevention

Thus far, I've managed to read about ninety percent of Secretary Geithner's new book, "Stress Test". At nearly six hundred pages, this tome is a first-hand account of the 2007 financial crisis that nearly upended the US financial system, forced millions of American homeowners into foreclosure and resulted in millions of lost jobs.

I think Secretary Geithner's book reflects humility and balance in that he acknowledges the mistakes that he a
Stuart Woolf
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Tim Geithner is one of few (very few) Beltway insiders I have ever followed on Youtube. He's an awkward but strangely captivating public speaker, a humble but competent bureaucrat who rises above the political theater of Washington to deliver pragmatic solutions to our economic woes, most often in an exasperated monotone. He's very down to earth, an easy guy to like.

His book does not disappoint: throughout the text, Geithner candidly admits what his weaknesses are, fairly assesses the successes
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have read several books recently on the financial crisis we are just coming out of. I read “On the Brink” by Hank Paulson the former Secretary of Treasury, “House of Debt by Alif Mian and Amin Safi, economist, describes the large amount of empirical research done since 2008. Now I have read “Stress Test” by Timothy F. Geithner whose book unlike the prior books provides an insider’s view point of the crisis. I am sure that this will be a controversial book and people will take sides according t ...more
Edgar Raines
May 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an important memoir by one of the most consequential cabinet officers of the first four years of Obama presidency. Geithner's main theme is the necessity of protecting the financial system in a full-blown financial crisis forces policy makers to take counter-intuitive measures, such as government borrowing to shore up institutions whose reckless lending contributed to the crisis. This is a thought-provoking, meaty memoir, certain to have a major impact on early historical accounts of the ...more
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: a-own, a-audible, a-ebooks
Highly recommend this to realize that getting things done in Washington is not as easy as you think, even when the financial world was on the verge of crumbling and the Great Depression seemed eminent. Checks and balances, political pressures and public ignorance all contribute to the difficulty. The book sometimes sound like a boosting of the Obama side but overall informative.
Brad Feld
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finance
This was the heavy one of the trip – it took three days. Geithner has always been a cipher to me so I figured his autobiography and memoir on the financial crisis would help me understand him better. He did an amazing job with this book, both explaining what happened while explaining himself. The depth of his own introspection and understanding of his own being came through in the midst of incredible pressure and crisis. Once you realize he’s a deep introvert in a context that begs for extrovert ...more
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you’ve read the books and academic articles or even watched the movies about the financial crisis, you’ve mostly heard a unified and compelling narrative. On the cynical end, Geithner, Paulson, and Bernanke were Wall Street cronies in bed with the largest banks, the vampire squids like Goldman Sachs, and they used taxpayer money to bail them out. The more generous and nuanced view is that they made unprecedented moves to bail out TBTF banks because the big banks had too much power and sway ov ...more
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating book. Compared to Bernanke's more professorial approach, Stress Test is like listening to a neighbor share stories about their career. A non-technical and interesting read. If you read only one book about the 2007 financial crisis, this should be it. (I've enjoyed it so much that while I initially borrowed it from the library, I've since purchased the Kindle version.)
Bryan Craig
If you are looking for a highly read-able account of the financial crisis, this is a good one.
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Stress Test, by Tim Geithner, was read by Mr. Geithner. He reads in an uneven tone of voice, often in a monotone, and truthfully, I fell asleep no less than three times during the time I listened to this book.
I gave it two stars, which I consider a generous rating, only because of the effort expended. The book seemed to be nothing more than a disingenuous “apology tour” to his wife and a reaffirmation of his belief that he made all the right decisions, if only those who were ignorant could have
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Bankers, politicians and historians
I wish I had looked at the notes at the end before I read this book. It would have made it easier to follow. I read the Kindle edition and did not realize that the notes explained some of the terms that I actually took the time to check. The notes explained the terms better than several sources I consulted.

The book started slowly for me and picked up steam as it unfolded. About halfway through it became a ‘page turner.’ Having now read the notes AND acknowledgements, I realize that the book was
Justin Tapp
Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises
Here's what you'll not find in this book: The personal philosophies, principles, and policies Geithner used to run a major cabinet agency and the New York Federal Reserve prior to that. There is very little about the advice he gleaned from others, although Robert Rubin and Larry Summers were strong influences and possibly mentors. His economics is pretty rudimentary, mainly just referring to simple Keynesian policies in the book.

The strength of the boo
Arjun Narayan
May 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: econ-finance
This book can be summed up in one word: whiny.

I gave up about 15% of the way in. I skimmed the last few chapters, but there was nothing there of note. Geithner does not have the cojones to even give some sort of speculative analysis. That is a pity. I would have hoped he would have some insights to show, but he does not.

I learned almost nothing about the financial crisis that I had not already understood from various other books (Even Andrew Ross Sorkin's celebrity-rag style tell-all is chock f
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir, 2014
Regardless of whether or not you agree with Geithner's decisions, this was an interesting telling of the events before, during and after the "meltdown". He defends some of his choices, while with others he admits fault. For a book about finance - a relatively LONG book about finance - it was quite engaging.
John Frech
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First, I am a former Federal Banking regulator who helped clean up the S&L crisis and a couple other issues in the 1980s and 1990s. So, I was delighted to have a chance to listen to Mr. Geithner's take on the financial crisis of 2007-2012.
Second, I heard Ky Rysdall interview Mr. Geithner on Marketplace before I read the book and I was very impressed with Mr. Geithner's recollections of his roles in 2007-2013, and his concerns about the current state of the financial ecosystem. After I heard
Dec 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Geithner has what seems like an unusual background, neither academia nor high finance, he's mostly been a public servant with a strong exposure to public & international monetary & fiscal policy. He claims no political party affiliation, he's a registered independent but says he grew up with definite Republican leanings & has since developed a sympathy for the Democratic worldview. What he does claim to be tho, without hedging his bet, it a pragmatist whose core motto is "any plan be ...more
Sep 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't expect the book to be as political as it was and I was hoping for more of just an insider perspective on the crisis. I did get that which was enjoyable but it felt like a lot of chaff to get through. It did give me more respect for Geithner although it felt like he could have left out some of the name dropping and negativity that was added in gratuitously.
The Great Recession and financial panic of 2007-2009 has a lot of myths and stories surrounding it concerning what the government did or didn't do, what it should've done and shouldn't have done, and the motives of those working behind the scenes. Former Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner is one of those lighting rod figures from the crisis who, because of his relative anonymity prior to the crisis, is often misunderstood or caricatured. In this book, Sec. Geithner not only dispels the m ...more
Rick Harrington
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Well,I'm on a binge to catch myself up with economics, mostly because as an educationist I think we're very confused about usage for "human capital," so-called. After Pierre Bourdieu, I veered off into Piketty, went through Rothbard, fun excursions into Flashboys and Tyler Cohen because I just had to, with lots of Pierre Bourdieu again because, well, I'm an educationist. Which by my read is no great thing to be.

This guy is way wordier than even I am, but in an opposite direction. There is nothin
Landon Lauder
FINALLY! This book took forever and a day to read. At first, it started lightly with Geithner's experience in the Treasury literally working his way up from being a "noisy scribe" to dealing with the economic panics in Asia in the 90s to eventually being dragged to Secretary of the Treasury. For the sake of this review, I'm going to focus more on the style and overall content of the book, since I'd hate to dwell on all of the nuances.

GOOD: This book is all you need to understand and navigate the
"Cyril' (David
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well every once in a while you read a book that makes you question things you knew as fact! Secretary Geithner's generally fair and honest explanation (albeit with a few too many gratuitous insults aimed at mostly Republicans) has me reevaluating my former objections to both President Bush's and President Obama's handling of the economic crisis. The last chapters dealing with the aftermath, did, in my opinion, become a bit more partisan and unbalanced. But what went before more than made up for ...more
Matt Maples
This was a great book to learn more about the 2008 financial crisis, as well as, learning about Tim Geithner. It's very interesting to get the inside look at the largest financial crisis in our history (larger than even the Great Depression in many metrics), but it's also amazing to see how little we've actually learned from that crisis. Geithner is very direct in his opinions and does not hold back. He seems to be able to also review himself, but as with most autobiographies, I find that you ne ...more
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading of Mr. Geithner's experiences during the financial crisis. Pundits on both the right and the left have their versions of the causes of the collapse, and why the rescue was/wasn't a good idea. It was great to read about the crisis from the perspective a person whose job was to stop it. The pragmatic Geithner doesn't try to hide his loathing of partisan politics in the book; his aims were purely to get the job done, fast.

Reading this book really challenged my perceptions
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Geithner invites us into his head in a book that will be greatly enjoyed by lovers of financial markets but too heady for most. In my years reading biographies I have generally learned to avoid reading autobiographies because they are laden with self justification. However, Geithner does better than most on this score and it seems to reflect an earnestness in wanting others to learn from his successes and failures. I came away respecting and appreciating him more as one who sought to make what h ...more
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you, Secretary Geithner, for saving the world from a global depression. Household wealth in the US decreased by 16% at the beginning of the Global Financial Crisis compared to a 3% decline prior to the Great Depression. The TARP bailout and the economic stimulus packages of tax cuts and investment in American infrastructure that created jobs during the early Obama administration, in addition to the already existing social support structures such as Social Security, Unemployment and Disabil ...more
Sep 23, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF @ 15%
I honestly didn't expect to finish this book, but I figured I'd make it further than 15%. While it is supposed to be about the 2008 financial crisis in the USA, the author decided to preface that with a biography of himself and his past economic dealings. It is understandable, as it puts in perspective why he was the man to tackle the crisis, since he had dealt with other foreign crises prior to the 2008 one. But I don't particularly care about the details of the Mexican, Thailand, and
Greg Howard
If you want to learn more about the crisis and the response, Geithner is well-situated to tell you about it. And this book is a pretty good place to learn about it. Unsurprisingly, Geithner is also trying to secure his legacy, so the "reflections on financial crises" are straightforward: you should do what Geithner did, or in a couple cases, what Geithner wanted to do but couldn't because of Congress. I'm not saying that those aren't the right things to do; I am a firm believer that many of the ...more
Ravi J
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book with some great insight into why some of the decisions were made during the financial crisis from the man who was in the middle of the whole thing - Tim Geithner. Being independent, he takes digs at the fiscal profligacy during the George Bush era and the Republican stonewalling in the GOP controlled house when trying to get the stimulus passed. He takes aimed shots at the lawmakers on the left as well for the ill timed Bush tax cut expirations and threats surrounding the same.
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Timothy F. Geithner was the seventy-fifth secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and previously served as president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He wrote Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises as a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
“you cannot enjoy the light without enduring the heat.” 5 likes
“The rating agencies were not exceedingly competent” 1 likes
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