Catalogue


Too big to fail : the inside story of how Wall Street and Washington fought to save the financial system--and themselves /
Andrew Ross Sorkin.
imprint
New York : Viking, 2009.
description
xx, 600 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., ports. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
9780670021253
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Viking, 2009.
isbn
9780670021253
catalogue key
6978368
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 585-586) and index.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
First Chapter

PROLOGUE

Standing in the kitchen of his Park Avenue apartment, Jamie Dimon poured himself a cup of coffee, hoping it might ease his headache. He was recovering from a slight hangover, but his head really hurt for a different reason: He knew too much.

It was just past 7:00 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, September 13, 2008. Dimon, the chief executive of JP Morgan Chase, the nation’s third largest bank, had spent part of the prior evening at an emergency, all-hands-on-deck meeting at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with a dozen of his rival Wall Street CEOs. Their assignment was to come up with a plan to save Lehman Brothers, the nation’s fourth-largest investment bank—or risk the collateral damage that might ensue in the markets.

To Dimon it was a terrifying predicament that caused his mind to spin as he rushed home afterward. He was already more than two hours late for a dinner party that his wife, Judy, was hosting. He was embarrassed by his delay because the dinner was for the parents of their daughter’s boyfriend, whom he was meeting for the fi rst time.

“Honestly, I’m never this late,” he offered, hoping to elicit some sympathy.

Trying to avoid saying more than he should, still he dropped some hints about what had happened at the meeting. “You know, I am not lying about how serious this situation is,” Dimon told his slightly alarmed guests as he mixed himself a martini. “You’re going to read about it tomorrow in the papers.”

As he promised, Saturday’s papers prominently featured the dramatic news to which he had alluded. Leaning against the kitchen counter, Dimon opened the Wall Street Journal and read the headline of its lead story: “Lehman Races Clock; Crisis Spreads.”

Dimon knew that Lehman Brothers might not make it through the weekend. JP Morgan had examined its books earlier that week as a potential lender and had been unimpressed. He also had decided to request some extra collateral from the firm out of fear it might fall. In the next twenty four hours, Dimon knew, Lehman would either be rescued or ruined.

Knowing what he did, however, Dimon was concerned about more than just Lehman Brothers. He was aware that Merrill Lynch, another icon of Wall Street, was in trouble, too, and he had just asked his staff to make sure JP Morgan had enough collateral from that firm as well. And he was also acutely aware of new dangers developing at the global insurance giant American International Group (AIG) that so far had gone relatively unnoticed by the public—it was his firm’s client, and they were scrambling to raise additional capital to save it. By his estimation AIG had only about a week to find a solution, or it, too, could falter.

Of the handful of principals involved in the dialogue about the enveloping crisis—the government included—Dimon was in an especially unusual position. He had the closest thing to perfect, real-time information. That “deal flow” enabled him to identify the fraying threads in the fabric of the financial system, even in the safety nets that others assumed would save the day.

Dimon began contemplating a worst-case scenario, and at 7:30 a.m. he went into his home library and dialed into a conference call with two dozen members of his management team.

“You are about to experience the most unbelievable week in America ever, and we have to prepare for the absolutely worst case,” Dimon told his staff. “We have to protect the firm. This is about our survival.”

His staff listened intently, but no one was quite certain what Dimon was trying to say.

Like most people on Wall Street—including Richard S. Fuld Jr., Lehman’s CEO, who enjoyed one of the longest reigns of any of its leaders—many of those listening to the call assumed that the government would intervene and prevent its failure. Dimon hastened to disabuse them of the notion.

“That’s wishful thinking. There is no way, in my opinion, that Washington is going to bail out an investment bank. Nor should they,” he said decisively. “I want you all to know that this is a matter of life and death.

I’m serious.”

Then he dropped his bombshell, one that he had been contemplating for the entire morning. It was his ultimate doomsday scenario.

“Here’s the drill,” he continued. “We need to prepare right now for Lehman Brothers fi ling.” Then he paused. “And for Merrill Lynch filing.” He paused again. “And for AIG fi ling.” Another pause. “And for Morgan Stanley filing.” And after a final, even longer pause he added: “And potentially for Goldman Sachs filing.”

There was a collective gasp on the phone.

As Dimon had presciently warned in his conference call, the following days would bring a near collapse of the financial system, forcing a government rescue effort with no precedent in modern history. In a period of less than eighteen months, Wall Street had gone from celebrating its most profitable age to finding itself on the brink of an epochal devastation.

Trillions of dollars in wealth had vanished, and the financial landscape was entirely reconfigured. The calamity would definitively shatter some of the most cherished principles of capitalism. The idea that financial wizards had conjured up a new era of low-risk profits, and that American-style financial engineering was the global gold standard, was officially dead.

Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin. Copyright © 2009 by Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2010-04-01:
Recent events in the financial markets have generated a variety of books written by participants and financial journalists. Some cover specific individuals (e.g., Erin Arvedlund's Too Good to Be True, CH, Feb'10, 47-3272, devoted to Bernie Madoff), while others cover specific firms (e.g., J. P. Morgan in Gillian Tett's Fool's Gold, CH, Mar'10, 47-3932) or specific securities (credit-default swaps and collateralized debt obligations in Karen Ho's Liquidated, CH, Feb'10, 47-3259). In Too Big to Fail, Sorkin, a New York Times columnist, offers a broad overview that encompasses firms such as Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, Lehmann Brothers, and AIG; their managers; and the efforts by Washington to stave off the developing financial crisis. As in the previously mentioned books, Sorkin relies on personal interviews and published materials to weave a story of human greed, ego, and arrogance combined with risk taking and regulatory failure. The amount of factual information is massive, but analysis of the causes of the crisis is minimal. Readers interested in the facts and personalities associated with the financial crisis will find this book fascinating, but those wanting to better understand the causes of the financial meltdown will be disappointed. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers. H. Mayo The College of New Jersey
Appeared in Library Journal on 2009-11-23:
This blow-by-blow narrative centers on the near implosion of Wall Street in September 2008. Sorkin, chief mergers and acquisitions reporter at the New York Times, concentrates his story on Lehman Brothers, AIG, and Merrill Lynch. With these and other financial firms at risk, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, other government officials, and hundreds of bankers scrambled to avoid what they thought could be financial Armageddon. From hundreds of interviews and other sources, Sorkin constructs a detailed account of the meetings, phone calls, and even the thoughts of the participants, depicting scenes of bankers and government officials under extreme stress as Lehman went bankrupt, Merrill merged with Bank of America, and AIG became essentially a ward of the government. Sorkin's analysis ends with Paulson's forcing Troubled Asset Relief Program funds on the nine largest banks in October 2008. Verdict The level of detail and the multiple typos in the published edition will test many readers' patience. General readers may not find this the introduction and explanation that they were looking for, but Sorkin's historical account of this critical time is highly recommended for motivated readers already in the know. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/09.]-Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Andrew Ross Sorkin pens what may be the definitive history of the banking crisis." -The Atlantic Monthly "Andrew Ross Sorkin has written a fascinating, scene-by-scene saga of the eyeless trying to march the clueless through Great Depression II." -Tom Wolfe "...Sorkin has succeeded in writing thebook of the crisis, with amazing levels of detail and access." -Reuters "Sorkin can write. His storytelling makes "Liar's Poker" look like a children's book." -SNL Financial
"...comprehensive and chilling..." - TIME "...his action scenes are intimate and engaging..." - The New Yorker "Sorkin''s prodigious reporting and lively writing put the reader in the room for some of the biggest-dollar conference calls in history. It''s an entertaining book, brisk book...Sorkin skillfully captures the raucous enthusiasm and riotous greed that fueled this rational irrationality." - The New York Times Book Review "...brings the drama alive with unusual inside access and compelling detail...A deeply researched account of the financial meltdown." - BusinessWeek "...meticulously researched...told brilliantly. Other blow-by-blow accounts are in the works. It is hard to imagine them being this riveting." - The Economist "Sorkin''s densely detailed and astonishing narrative of the epic financial crisis of 2008 is an extraordinary achievement that will be hard to surpass as the definitive account...as a dramatic close-up, his book is hard to beat." - Financial Times "Sorkin''s book, like its author, is a phenom...an absolute tour de force." - The American Prospect "Andrew Ross Sorkin pens what may be the definitive history of the banking crisis." - The Atlantic Monthly "Andrew Ross Sorkin has written a fascinating, scene-by-scene saga of the eyeless trying to march the clueless through Great Depression II." -Tom Wolfe "...Sorkin has succeeded in writing the book of the crisis, with amazing levels of detail and access." -Reuters "Sorkin can write. His storytelling makes "Liar''s Poker" look like a children''s book." -SNL Financial
"Sorkin's book, like its author, is a phenom...an absolute tour de force." -The American Prospect "Andrew Ross Sorkin pens what may be the definitive history of the banking crisis." -The Atlantic Monthly "Andrew Ross Sorkin has written a fascinating, scene-by-scene saga of the eyeless trying to march the clueless through Great Depression II." -Tom Wolfe "...Sorkin has succeeded in writing thebook of the crisis, with amazing levels of detail and access." -Reuters "Sorkin can write. His storytelling makes "Liar's Poker" look like a children's book." -SNL Financial
"...comprehensive and chilling..." - TIME "...his action scenes are intimate and engaging..." - The New Yorker "Sorkin's prodigious reporting and lively writing put the reader in the room for some of the biggest-dollar conference calls in history. It's an entertaining book, brisk book...Sorkin skillfully captures the raucous enthusiasm and riotous greed that fueled this rational irrationality." - The New York Times Book Review "...brings the drama alive with unusual inside access and compelling detail...A deeply researched account of the financial meltdown." - BusinessWeek "...meticulously researched...told brilliantly. Other blow-by-blow accounts are in the works. It is hard to imagine them being this riveting." - The Economist "Sorkin's densely detailed and astonishing narrative of the epic financial crisis of 2008 is an extraordinary achievement that will be hard to surpass as the definitive account...as a dramatic close-up, his book is hard to beat." - Financial Times "Sorkin's book, like its author, is a phenom...an absolute tour de force." - The American Prospect "Andrew Ross Sorkin pens what may be the definitive history of the banking crisis." - The Atlantic Monthly "Andrew Ross Sorkin has written a fascinating, scene-by-scene saga of the eyeless trying to march the clueless through Great Depression II." -Tom Wolfe "...Sorkin has succeeded in writing thebook of the crisis, with amazing levels of detail and access." -Reuters "Sorkin can write. His storytelling makes "Liar's Poker" look like a children's book." -SNL Financial
"...comprehensive and chilling..." -TIME "...his action scenes are intimate and engaging..." -The New Yorker "Sorkin's prodigious reporting and lively writing put the reader in the room for some of the biggest-dollar conference calls in history. It's an entertaining book, brisk book...Sorkin skillfully captures the raucous enthusiasm and riotous greed that fueled this rational irrationality." -The New York Times Book Review "...brings the drama alive with unusual inside access and compelling detail...A deeply researched account of the financial meltdown." -BusinessWeek "...meticulously researched...told brilliantly. Other blow-by-blow accounts are in the works. It is hard to imagine them being this riveting." -The Economist "Sorkin's densely detailed and astonishing narrative of the epic financial crisis of 2008 is an extraordinary achievement that will be hard to surpass as the definitive account...as a dramatic close-up, his book is hard to beat." -Financial Times "Sorkin's book, like its author, is a phenom...an absolute tour de force." -The American Prospect "Andrew Ross Sorkin pens what may be the definitive history of the banking crisis." -The Atlantic Monthly "Andrew Ross Sorkin has written a fascinating, scene-by-scene saga of the eyeless trying to march the clueless through Great Depression II." -Tom Wolfe "...Sorkin has succeeded in writing thebook of the crisis, with amazing levels of detail and access." -Reuters "Sorkin can write. His storytelling makes "Liar's Poker" look like a children's book." -SNL Financial
This item was reviewed in:
Globe & Mail, November 2009
Library Journal, November 2009
New York Times Full Text Review, November 2009
New York Times Full Text Review, December 2009
Choice, April 2010
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
A real-life thriller about the most tumultuous period in America's financial history by an acclaimed New York TimesReporter Andrew Ross Sorkin delivers the first true behind-the-scenes, moment-by-moment account of how the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression developed into a global tsunami. From inside the corner office at Lehman Brothers to secret meetings in South Korea, and the corridors of Washington, Too Big to Failis the definitive story of the most powerful men and women in finance and politics grappling with success and failure, ego and greed, and, ultimately, the fate of the world's economy. "We've got to get some foam down on the runway!" a sleepless Timothy Geithner, the then-president of the Federal Reserve of New York, would tell Henry M. Paulson, the Treasury secretary, about the catastrophic crash the world's financial system would experience. Through unprecedented access to the players involved, Too Big to Failre-creates all the drama and turmoil, revealing neverdisclosed details and elucidating how decisions made on Wall Street over the past decade sowed the seeds of the debacle. This true story is not just a look at banks that were "too big to fail," it is a real-life thriller with a cast of bold-faced names who themselves thought they were too big to fail.
Main Description
A real-life thriller about the most tumultuous period in America's financial history by an acclaimed New York Times Reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin delivers the first true behind-the-scenes, moment-by-moment account of how the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression developed into a global tsunami. From inside the corner office at Lehman Brothers to secret meetings in South Korea, and the corridors of Washington, Too Big to Fail is the definitive story of the most powerful men and women in finance and politics grappling with success and failure, ego and greed, and, ultimately, the fate of the world's economy. "We've got to get some foam down on the runway!" a sleepless Timothy Geithner, the then-president of the Federal Reserve of New York, would tell Henry M. Paulson, the Treasury secretary, about the catastrophic crash the world's financial system would experience. Through unprecedented access to the players involved, Too Big to Fail re-creates all the drama and turmoil, revealing never disclosed details and elucidating how decisions made on Wall Street over the past decade sowed the seeds of the debacle. This true story is not just a look at banks that were "too big to fail," it is a real-life thriller with a cast of bold-faced names who themselves thought they were too big to fail.
Main Description
Andrew Ross Sorkin's website Andrew Ross Sorkin's interview on Charlie Rose Watch a Video Andrew Ross Sorkin delivers the first true behind-the-scenes, moment-by-moment account of how the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression developed into a global tsunami. From inside the corner office at Lehman Brothers to secret meetings in South Korea, and the corridors of Washington, Too Big to Fail is the definitive story of the most powerful men and women in finance and politics grappling with success and failure, ego and greed, and, ultimately, the fate of the world's economy. "We've got to get some foam down on the runway!" a sleepless Timothy Geithner, the then-president of the Federal Reserve of New York, would tell Henry M. Paulson, the Treasury secretary, about the catastrophic crash the world's financial system would experience. Through unprecedented access to the players involved, Too Big to Fail re-creates all the drama and turmoil, revealing neverdisclosed details and elucidating how decisions made on Wall Street over the past decade sowed the seeds of the debacle. This true story is not just a look at banks that were "too big to fail," it is a real-life thriller with a cast of bold-faced names who themselves thought they were too big to fail.
Description for Library
Another book on the market tumble. I hesitated, but then I saw Sorkin's credentials as the Gerald Loeb Award-winning chief mergers and acquisitions reporter for the New York Times.
Main Description
Acclaimed "New York Times" reporter Sorkin delivers the first true, behind-the-scenes, moment-by-moment account of how the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression developed into a global tsunami.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem