Bull by the Horns
Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself
By Sheila Bair
(Free Press, Hardcover, 9781451672480, 432pp.)
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
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“When Sheila Bair took over as head of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2006, the agency was probably better known for the ‘FDIC’ logo on the doors of the nation’s banks than for anything it did. Now Bair is at the center of the financial crisis, speeding the takeover of failing banks and pressing the mortgage industry to ease loan terms . . . winning praise from Democrats and Republicans.” —BLOOMBERG NEWS, October 3, 2008
Sheila Bair is widely acknowledged in government circles and the media as one of the first people to identify and accurately assess the subprime crisis. Appointed by George W. Bush as the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in 2006, she witnessed the origins of the financial crisis and in 2008 became—along with Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, and Timothy Geithner—one of the key players trying to repair the damage to our economy. Bull by the Horns is her remarkable and refreshingly honest account of that contentious time and the struggle for reform that followed and continues to this day.
A level-headed, pragmatic figure with a clear focus on serving the public good, Bair was often one of the few women in the room during heated discussions about the economy. Despite her years of experience and her determination to rein in the private banks and Wall Street, she frequently found herself at odds with Geithner. She is withering in her assessment of some of Wall Street’s finest, and her narrative of Citibank’s attempted takeover of Wachovia is a stinging indictment of how regulators and the banks worked against the public interest at times to serve their own needs.
Bair is steadfast in her belief that the American public needs to fully understand the crisis in order to bring it to an end. Critical of the bank bailouts and the Can. $29.99 lax regulation that led to the economic crash, she provides a sober analysis as well as a practical plan for how we should move forward. She helps clear away the myths and half-truths about how we ran our economic engine into the ditch and tells us how we can help get our financial and regulatory systems back on track.
As The New Yorker said, “Bair has consistently stood out for her skepticism of Wall Street and for her eagerness to confront the big banks. A Kansas Republican, she has become an unlikely hero to economic liberals, who see her as the counterweight to the more Wall Street–centric view often ascribed to Timothy Geithner, the Treasury Secretary” (July 6, 2009).
Sheila Bair is the former Chairman of the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). She has been covered—and lauded—everywhere from The New Yorker to The Washington Post to The Wall Street Journal, and in 2008 and 2009 Forbes named her the second most powerful woman in the world. Prior to assuming her post at the FDIC, Bair served as assistant secretary for financial institutions at the US Department of the Treasury and as senior vice president for government relations of the New York Stock Exchange.
“When Sheila Bair took over as head of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2006, the agency was probably better known for the ‘FDIC’ logo on the doors of the nation’s banks than for anything it did. Now Bair is at the center of the financial crisis, speeding the takeover of failing banks and pressing the mortgage industry to ease loan terms. . . . winning praise from Democrats and Republicans.”
“The FDIC’s influence has grown in the past year because of Ms. Bair’s willingness to challenge her peers, as well as her agency's central role responding to the financial crisis. Ms. Bair warned about the housing crisis before many of her colleagues.”
“Bair is everything you'd want in a public servant: thoughtful, practical, independent-minded—a straight shooter with political savvy who can manage the details of policy without losing sight of the big picture. She's no grandstander, but she isn't shy about going public with concerns if she thinks it will help her inside game. She never forgets that her most important constituency isn't the thousands of banks she regulates but the millions of Americans who use them.”
“During the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, Sheila Bair has been the little guy's protector in chief.”
“A crisp, telling and often funny narrative of the 2008 meltdown.”
"Bull By the Horns is the story of financial calamity seen from the perspective of this public servant, rendered from detailed notes. We learn with whom she met, what was said, what decisions taken, and how things turned out….This is a book for aficionados of infuriating detail.
Yet beneath the froth of facts courses an epic struggle. It pits Sheila Bair and the civil servants of the FDIC on one side and [Timothy Geithner] on the other.”
“[Sheila Bair] is an excellent choice as the most experienced as well as principled candidate to head the SEC or Treasury… [and] her outstanding book Bull by the Horns… should be required reading for the president and those who are advising him on selecting his new economic team.”
“If you can read just one book on the financial crisis, this should be it.”