Book Review: Bailout by Neil Barofsky

Neil Barofsky’s “Bailout”

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

For those of you who follow my blog you will know that I have been quite outspoken about the Treasury’s handling of the housing crisis; this book serves to confirm much of what I suspected and managed to get me even more angry about it (if that was possible)!

Mr. Barofsky was chosen to be the Inspector General for the TARP program (Troubled Asset Relief Program), his official title was SIGTARP (Special Inspector General….) and this riveting account of what happened behind the scenes will confirm every fear, hunch and cynicism you ever had about The Obama Treasury Department. Ironically it simultaneously forces you to raise your opinion of Congress, if only by a smidgen.

If you are a fan of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, you’ll find yourself uncomfortable throughout the book, though Hank Paulson comes off as a reasonable person (yet again). I’ve been very tough on both as I think they made poor decisions, but there is a difference between someone who makes a poor decision under pressure and a person whose poor decisions are driven by outside influences. While I cannot help to think that Paulson was driven by outside influences (he was the former Goldman leader), he at least seemed to care more about main street than Geithner, who seems driven to protect the banks at all costs. Geithner is less a shill for the banks and more a pure stand-in for them, his aim was and is to protect the banking cabal even if it means that main street forever remains in recession/depression. It never occurs to Geithner that bailing out (or providing assistance) to main street would have served the dual role of also helping the banks.

Geithner’s mistreatment of Elizabeth Warren is also featured in the book and while it is understandable his dislike of her given her treatment of him…he asked for it by favoring the big banks.

While Bailout is not meant to be an indictment of Geithner, it certainly is close and for good reason. I can only imagine what Geithner could have gotten done if Neil Barofsky and SIGTARP were not around to provide some level of accountability.

I can’t say that I always agree with Barofsky, but he comes across as a man who is out to protect Americans, not take advantage of them – he earns my respect and I hope we see more of him and more people like him in government.

I can’t say that Obama comes out looking good in this book, though Barofsky treads lightly whenever speaking of the White House. What one has to infer is that Geithner was able to do what he did because he had the support of Obama and this support will forever remain the reason that a real recovery never happened. If Obama loses the election, you will be able to trace it directly to his decision to appoint Timothy Geithner and then to stand by him when it was clear he had only one interest in mind, the big banks. Yes, there are other reasons – but ignoring the real housing crisis has had a huge impact.

Bailout is a book that you SHOULD read. Put down Fifty Shades of Grey and pick up Bailout.

Scott Dauenhauer, CFP, MSFP, AIF
Meridian Wealth Management


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