What we read while voting for Richie Incognito…
Welcome to Part IV of our eleven-part breakdown of the books of the financial crisis. Having trouble keeping up? Then check out this page for all previous and future posts in the series.
On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System
by Henry Paulson 2010
The unifying element of the first four books was pessimism: Whether it was Ritholtz’s scorn for those in power, Morgenson’s search for someone to blame, Lewis’s tragic tale, or Sorkin’s narrative of disaster, all four books had decidedly bleak outlooks on the events. Since there is only so much despair one person can read about, I wanted to read the account of someone who would be sympathetic to the policy-makers and CEOs who everyone else blamed.
Henry Paulson was perfect. If the financial panic of 2008 has a face, it’s Paulson’s. As Treasury Secretary during the collapse, he was the one who told Congress of the dangers of Fannie and Freddie (in his infamous squirt gun analogy), who proposed TARP, and who ultimately dispensed the bailouts. And unlike the other figures prominently involved—Geithner, Bernanke—he faded from public view almost immediately after the disaster passed.
Reading Paulson’s book, though, it is hard to dislike him. His prose is straightforward and he comes across as an upstanding, diligent worker with integrity. He’s honest, but polite and gracious to a fault—despite presiding over what many would describe as a complete disaster, he has nothing but kind words for almost everyone involved.* He worked for Presidents Nixon and Bush—two of the least popular Presidents of the last 50 years, if not ever—but says nothing negative about either. He clashed with another prominent public figure, Jon Corzine, for the top spot at Goldman Sachs, but all he says about that is “frankly, the pairing was never right.” Continue reading »
What we read that wasn’t about Michelle Obama’s hair…
- Michael Weinreb on Donald Westlake, whose novels serve as the source for the new movie, Parker.
LSU@Alabama: Vindicating the BCS
I don’t mean to rehash old debates (who am I kidding? Of course I do. This is a blog after all), but another college football season means another post where I attempt to defend the BCS. And, of course, this weekend’s LSU-Alabama game presents a great opportunity for such a defense. Saturday’s highly anticipated SEC showdown would not be nearly as important if the BCS were replaced with the playoff that so many, including my colleague Tim, desire: A game that will likely make one team’s season while breaking another would be effectively meaningless, since both teams would make any conceivable playoff even with one loss.
This type of game is unique: It’s exciting in a way that no other mid-season game, in any sport, is ever exciting. This is a GOOD thing. It’s asinine that fans of college football want to kill the best thing about the sport, but the collective fascination with the concept of a playoff makes people say crazy things. This is the only thing that could lead someone like Dan Wolken to use the Alabama-LSU game as a way to attack the BCS. Continue reading »