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

Barofsky, Neil M.

Book - 2012
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
In this 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 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 expense of effective financial reform. During the height of the financial crisis in 2008, Barofsky gave up his job as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's office in New York City, where he had convicted drug kingpins, Wall Street executives, and perpetrators of mortgage fraud, to become the special inspector general in charge of oversight of the spending of the bailout money. From his first day on the job, his efforts to protect against fraud and to hold the big banks accountable for how they spent taxpayer money were met with outright hostility from the Treasury officials in charge of the bailouts. Barofsky discloses how, in serving the interests of the banks, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his team worked with Wall Street executives to design programs that would funnel vast amounts of taxpayer money to their firms and would have allowed them to game the markets and make huge profits with almost no risk and no accountability, while repeatedly fighting Barofsky's efforts to put the necessary fraud protections in place. His investigations also uncovered abject mismanagement of the bailout of insurance giant AIG and Geithner's decision to allow the payment of millions of dollars in bonuses--including $7, 700 to a kitchen worker and $7,000 to a mail room assistant--and that the Obama administration's "TARP czar" lobbied for the executives to retain their high pay. Providing details about how, meanwhile, the interests of homeowners and the broader public were betrayed, Barofsky recounts how Geithner and his team steadfastly failed to fix glaring flaws in the Obama administration's homeowner relief program pointed out by Barofsky and other bailout watchdogs, rejecting anti-fraud measures, which unleashed a wave of abuses by mortgage providers against homeowners, even causing some who would not have lost their homes otherwise to go into foreclosure.

Publisher: New York : Free Press, 2012
Edition: 1st Free Press hardcover ed
ISBN: 9781451684933
Branch Call Number: 338.973 B
Characteristics: xvi, 270 p. ; 24 cm.


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Jun 23, 2013
  • StarGladiator rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This is a very good book, and while it is evident that the honorable (and Mr. Barofsky was one of three honorable personages in Washington, D.C. at that time, the others being Phil Angelides and Elizabeth Warren) Neil Barofsky understands credit default swaps and credit derivatives, he somehow doesn't fully comprehend the skulduggery involving those naked swaps, or uncovered credit default swaps and their involvement in the global economic meltdown. Mr. Barofsky does explain that the bailout of AIG was really the bailout of the top banksters (JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, et cetera) and he does explain that lack of real response from Geithner and the other culpable ones!

Dec 17, 2012

Russ Roberts of EconTalk did a great interview with Mr. Barofsky:

Nov 13, 2012
  • VPL Career Commons rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Excellent insight into the continuing mess concerning taxpayer bailouts to TBTF banks, insurers, auto companies etc. Neil Barofsky was the Inspector General in charge of oversight for TARP. He pulls no punches, names names and adds a wonderful volume to the literature detailing the extent to which politicians and regulators are captured by Wall St. Great insider look at dysfunctional Washington from an outsider. Recommended.

Aug 18, 2012

The author points out the great difficulty of getting anything done in Washington given the political and bureaucratic machinery that has built up and everyone protecting their own turf and not wanting anyone finding out how ineffective they are.
It reminded me of Richard Feynman trying to get to the bottom of the cause of the Challenger crash. Everyone scurried about getting accepting the explanations everyone gave. Feynman kept looking closer and found at least one of the major problems but the committee did not want to hear it and tried to block it.
Barofsky points out the same problems and how the few who tried to do their job were blocked and had to be discouraged.


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