Bull by the Horns
Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself
By Sheila Bair
(Simon & Schuster, Paperback, 9781451672497, 432pp.)
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
The former FDIC chairwoman, and one of the first people to acknowledge the full risk of subprime loans, offers a unique perspective on the financial crisis.
Appointed by George W. Bush as the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in 2006, Sheila Blair witnessed the origins of the financial crisis and in 2008 became one of the key people 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 ensuing struggle for reform that continues to this day.
A levelheaded, 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. 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. As Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein said, “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 never forgets that her most important constituency isn’t the thousands of banks she regulates but the millions of Americans who use them.”
Bair is steadfast in her belief that the American public needs to understand the crisis to bring it to an end. In Bull by the Horns, she clears away the myths and reveals a critical plan for getting our financial and regulatory systems back on track.
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.”
“A useful, corrective addition to the already extensive literature on the crisis.”