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On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System
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On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  2,573 ratings  ·  176 reviews
When Hank Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, was appointed in 2006 to become the nation's next Secretary of the Treasury, he knew that his move from Wall Street to Washington would be daunting and challenging.

But Paulson had no idea that a year later, he would find himself at the very epicenter of the world's most cataclysmic financial crisis since the Great Depres
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Hardcover, 496 pages
Published February 1st 2010 by Business Plus
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William Breakstone
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing

BOOK REVIEW

ON THE BRINK: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System
by Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Business Plus, Hachette Book Group, 2010

Reviewed by Bill Breakstone, Somers, NY, May 22, 2010

This is more or less the 12th book I’ve read about the Financial Crisis of 2007—2009. It’s no doubt the last I’ll undertake, but it will have to do for now. I need a break, and have a half-dozen volumes of fiction, biographies and historical prize-winners that I’m looking forward to readi
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Yaboimazz
Sep 25, 2014 rated it liked it
ya boi read dis book right afta mah man tim geithners epic stress test. dis dont hold watah ta geitners tour da force, but paulson does manage ta give is own unique viewpoint of da avents of da 2008 economic meltdown , nom sayin? ya may not digg was hes all about, but mah boi hank lays it down on da line n manages ta put da bush administration in a brand new light. check it out.. . .
Pavlo Illashenko
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There are three types of crisis-history-books: macro stories (why it had happened in terms of macroeconomics); third-party-for-broad-public-storytelling (usually written by journalists for non-economists) and first-hand-reminiscences (story by real actors, usually for the broad public).

If your interest in topic is superficial, you should read something from second category. Probably, "The End of Wall Street" by Roger Lowenstein.

If you'd like to dig deeper, then it is better to make it through "m
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Nathaniel
Jun 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
Leaving aside whether Paulson did the right thing or not, my major issue with this book is it almost exclusively based on Paulson's memory, and the memory of "others." There is no bibliography. There are no sources. No datebook. No call sheets. For a non-fiction book about an important event with a massive paper trail, this book stands as an unbelievable, astonishing feat of memory.

While I put some stock in the whole idea of he lived through it, he'll remember a lot, not to the extent it would
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Richard Wagaman
Feb 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
I can't help but consider Paulson to be a protected elite. America is not supposed to have "protected elites". Since the market crash of 2007-2009 if Paulson did what several people have said he--lied to Congress--and then said the key Wall Street Insiders the truth, he should be in Jail!
George
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
a great book describing the financial crisis, even though I lived through it, it helped me understand the why.

I did watch Too big to Fail, and even though what was in there is covered in the book, many of the things in the movie were compressed to fit.
Mehrsa
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I just re-read this one because I am trying to find the best post-crisis memoir to assign to my class and this may be one (the contenders are Sheila Bair and Tim Geithner). I think I may like this one the best (especially after the re-reading) because Paulson was such a banking industry insider before and had so much power as a regulator that the perspective is a good one. He feels so bad for the bankers. And he just does not at all seem to feel bad for the mortgage holders that are getting fore ...more
karl
Mar 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book I became aware how naïve I must have been back especially in 2008 as the financial system in the US lurched from crisis to crisis realizing now that there was so much work going on behind the scenes by collaborative teams from Treasury-Fed-Comptroller-SEC-FDIC and House and Senate. Paulson’s book reads almost like a day by day blow of events from 2007 through the handoff January 20, 2009 to the Obama team. Surprisingly, reading it often got me excited – like a good novel.

My onl
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John
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I resisted the impulse to shell out 30 bucks and buy the hardcover when it first came out. As a bargain bin special for $8 one year later, I am satisfied that I received my money's worth. Books like this have a tendency towards self-justification with limited admissions of error or bad judgement. The value of this book is its portrayal of the sheer panic and confusion that racked global financial markets. While Paulson confidently traces his career from Darthmouth to Harvard Biz to Wall Street a ...more
evan pon
Feb 08, 2010 rated it liked it
It took a long time to read this book. The material was interesting - it was great to see what was happening behind closed doors during the financial crisis. It definitely gave me a new perspective on a variety of events and people - the Lehman Brothers failure and George W. Bush to name a couple. I generally felt that Paulson was being straightforward and honest throughout the book, and that he did a decent job avoiding some of the financial jargon that could really trip readers up.

A small prob
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Dana
Feb 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
Near the end of former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's memoir about his role during the greatest financial disaster to hit the U.S. since the Great Depression he writes, "[T:]he crisis did not shake my faith in the free-market system." Along with regularly placed confessions by Paulson letting the reader know that he hated what he had to do and that it went against everything he believed, this is about all the reflection and analysis we get from him, the man at the center of averting, if he i ...more
Martin
The bailouts were complicated. Even reading the WSJ, I couldn't follow everything that was happening. This book does a great job of spelling it out in a way that one can follow.

The writing is honest, with praise for both Bush II and Obama, and criticism of several members of Congress. Paulson doesn't hide the physical effects of the stress he was under. Most authors would.

Paulson has some tremendous blind spots. Some bank activities are really just gambling. That should be stopped. The only ment
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Tom
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent complement to Tim Geithner's "Stress Test". Paulson, Geithner and Bernanke were the key players in mitigating the impact of the 2008-09 financial crisis, and the dedication, teamwork and diligence they and their staffs applied to the enormous issues we faced were nothing short of remarkable. Even just six years later, it's impossible to imagine their being able to get Congress to do what it did to supplement their herculean efforts, it's become that much more dysfunctional ...more
Drew Johnson
Mar 20, 2010 rated it really liked it

Part Biography, Part Analysis of the financial crises. Due to the crises, he was forced to do things he didn't believe in (government intervention) to save something he did believe in (our free market financial system). He didn't create the problem but worked diligently to rescue our financial system. It could have been much worse but for his efforts. He made mistakes but as I consider the totality of what he did against the backdrop of the breadth and depth of the problems we faced, I am gratef
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Kim  Scripture
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Written with his mother's advice in mind..."if you don't have anything nice to say about anybody, don't say anything at all"...so in this book, all the bureaucrats are strong, all the politicians are good looking and all the bankers are above average.

Ok, so he can write a book that deftly avoids being critical of anyone. And as such, all book really does is document, on a broad scale, the major events of the Great Recession from the view at the top. No great insight here.

But I did like his aft
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Jeffrey Stalk
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
His view appears to be that a lot of very smart people worked very hard to prevent a global meltdown. However, for those of us who lived through it, it appears he was pretty much clueless -- rolling from one emergency to the next and never getting ahead of it. Ironically he writes that on 8/9/2007 "the crisis in the financial markets arrived from a corner he did not anticipate-- housing" and yet the FDIC, the states, the government agencies are suing almost any bank in the country for loans they ...more
Christopher
Apr 22, 2010 rated it liked it
I normally don't add school reads to my Goodreads list, but this one was interesting enough to add. It is an unmistakable piece of self promotion, and I seriously think Paulson is softly announcing a future run for President here. Once I got past the chapters establishing himself as a hardworking honest farm boy and college QB, with the environmental activist wife, the actual minute by minute of the Financial crisis is as engaging as a Dan Brown book with ridiculous cliff hangers and crazy chara ...more
Jean Adelson
Jan 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
Painful read for me. It is proof that he is an idiot and unsuitable for the job of Treasury secretary, so reading about one bad economic decision after another was very hard to stomach, especially since the book came out so soon after the crisis. I had to keep putting it down. The only person dumber and less suitable is Geithner, a fact that is also apparent in this book.
Nishant Deshpande
Mar 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
the short sellers are out killing the banks, the world is about to collapse, the market must be sent a strong message, arbitrary mergers... x300 pages.

then some not-so original ideas on how to reform the system... mostly boiling down to "keeping peoples skin in the game".

anyone who believes in the efficient market hypothesis should read this.

David Glad
May 28, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Part history, part revisionist history, quickly begins to sound like self-fulfilling prophecy.

Funny too how he makes no mention in the book of his 2007 efforts to try to partner with money managers to buy up as much as $100 billion in subprime loans and "stabilize" those so-called structured investment vehicles. They didn't bite, so it quickly fizzled.
I
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Good book if you are looking for a step by step response of US govt institutions of 2008 crisis. However, there are no bad guys in the book which is sad. Paulson goes to great lengths to show every banker as statesman material
Hal
Feb 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Paulson reveals that he is a closet democrat. Had great things to say about Pres Bush, Barney Frank, Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner and himself. He didn't like McCain. Difficult read but lots of good info.
Kyle Rogerson
May 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
Not impressed Paulson
Paul
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had no idea how close we were to economic catastrophe in 2008. Read this book and learn how ideology almost sent us into the abyss, and how George Bush may have saved us all.
Bojan Tunguz
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book wastes no time on lengthy introductions or narrative preambles. The very first sentence is a direct question from President Bush to Paulson. ("Do they know it's coming Hank?" - "they" being Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and "it" being the seizure of the control of those companies by the government.) The overall narrative style of the book is very direct and conversational, which makes for an easy and straightforward read. This tone of voice is at odds with the more deliberate and cerebral ...more
Adam Ford
Sep 17, 2013 rated it liked it
A good record of the recent financial collapse, but too little introspection. Yes, I know it is easy to stand on the sidelines and find fault with the benefit of hindsight. But Paulson in this book has precious little criticism of himself--every mistake was unavoidable, every decision was the best one possible at the time with the constraints of time, information and power.

Paulson is a free market Republican who will be remembered for the biggest government intervention into the markets in the
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Paul Szydlowski
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was the third book I've read on the 2008 financial collapse ("The Big Short" and "All the Devils Are Here" being the other two) and while some may find it dry, I thought it was the best of the bunch, reading like the financial thriller it was. The most important takeaway from reading these books is that the financial crisis cannot be pinned upon any one party. And neither can the bailouts. This does not absolve either party of complicity, because each played their own role. Democrats sought ...more
JustKate
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read this after Tim Geithner's book and was happy to see the stories match up.
This was a thoughtful recount of what happened in the days/week/months surrounding the financial crisis. It reinforced for me what I have learned from almost every autobiography I read/listen to: ordinary men put into impossible circumstances do the best they can with what they have.
David Matthews
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who aspires to lead a financial institution should read "On the Brink". Hank Paulson emulates what it means to be a Trusted Advisor.
Peter Marshall
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pretty riveting account of Paulson's time as Treasury Secretary. It details the events of the Financial Crisis chronologically and keeps the reader interested all the way through.
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Henry Merritt "Hank" Paulson, Jr. (born March 28, 1946) is an American banker who served as the 74th United States Secretary of the Treasury. He had served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs, and is now chairman of the Paulson Institute, which he founded in 2011 to promote sustainable economic growth and a cleaner environment around the world, with an initial focus on the ...more