Customer Reviews for

On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

On the Brink

I was surprised by the intricate detail of his recall of the events surrounding the financial crisis throughout this 478 page book. It was in his acknowledgements that he explained that he relied not only on his own recall, but more than 20 people with whom he consulted...
I was surprised by the intricate detail of his recall of the events surrounding the financial crisis throughout this 478 page book. It was in his acknowledgements that he explained that he relied not only on his own recall, but more than 20 people with whom he consulted. One of the most striking cuts from the book:

"I had come to Washington to make a difference, and we had, I thought, just saved the country - and the world - from financial catastrophe. The next day, Lehman Brothers began to collapse."

In fact, this was just the beginning of the financial crisis to come. The ins and outs of our financial system as well as our political system can be quite confusing. In On The Brink the former Treasury Secretary speaks in plain language and has a list of acronyms used in the text so that the reader understands clearly what the Secretary is writing about. It was quite disturbing at times to read about the power plays, the decisions to act without delay, and the information that was withheld from the American people. It was also disconcerting to read how the taxpayer's money was being thrown around as if it was an unending spigot.

Secretary Paulson speaks very highly of President Bush and many in Congress on both sides of the aisle. There is an amusing story of when Mr. Paulson's cell phone went off at an inopportune time during a meeting with President Bush, a visiting head of state, and Condoleezza Rice. Not only could he not locate his phone, but it was his son calling to talk about sports.

This is an interesting book of Mr. Paulson's view of what happened during this terrible crisis.

posted by timetravel on March 21, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Hiding in Plain Site

Sorry. Mr. Paulson doesn't quite pull it off. And, as much as he would like to illuminate, he simply comes off as trying to distance himself from the high finance bad boys who brought us to this sorry economic state. One of my philosophy professors many years ago descri...
Sorry. Mr. Paulson doesn't quite pull it off. And, as much as he would like to illuminate, he simply comes off as trying to distance himself from the high finance bad boys who brought us to this sorry economic state. One of my philosophy professors many years ago described capitalism as "regulated greed." It was not a judgement on capitalism as much as simple message that greed, while a motivating force at the base of our economic system, requires a watchful eye. Out of control greed will always lead to distaster. That's a simple lesson our well-educated, well-heeled author simply fails to state. The reader needs to be reminded that he was all for as little regulation as possible when it served his purposes. I would recommend Mr. Paulson sign up for a remedial course in ethics. Oh, and a course in writing would help, too.

posted by babyman on March 13, 2010

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    On the Brink

    I was surprised by the intricate detail of his recall of the events surrounding the financial crisis throughout this 478 page book. It was in his acknowledgements that he explained that he relied not only on his own recall, but more than 20 people with whom he consulted. One of the most striking cuts from the book:

    "I had come to Washington to make a difference, and we had, I thought, just saved the country - and the world - from financial catastrophe. The next day, Lehman Brothers began to collapse."

    In fact, this was just the beginning of the financial crisis to come. The ins and outs of our financial system as well as our political system can be quite confusing. In On The Brink the former Treasury Secretary speaks in plain language and has a list of acronyms used in the text so that the reader understands clearly what the Secretary is writing about. It was quite disturbing at times to read about the power plays, the decisions to act without delay, and the information that was withheld from the American people. It was also disconcerting to read how the taxpayer's money was being thrown around as if it was an unending spigot.

    Secretary Paulson speaks very highly of President Bush and many in Congress on both sides of the aisle. There is an amusing story of when Mr. Paulson's cell phone went off at an inopportune time during a meeting with President Bush, a visiting head of state, and Condoleezza Rice. Not only could he not locate his phone, but it was his son calling to talk about sports.

    This is an interesting book of Mr. Paulson's view of what happened during this terrible crisis.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 13, 2010

    Hiding in Plain Site

    Sorry. Mr. Paulson doesn't quite pull it off. And, as much as he would like to illuminate, he simply comes off as trying to distance himself from the high finance bad boys who brought us to this sorry economic state. One of my philosophy professors many years ago described capitalism as "regulated greed." It was not a judgement on capitalism as much as simple message that greed, while a motivating force at the base of our economic system, requires a watchful eye. Out of control greed will always lead to distaster. That's a simple lesson our well-educated, well-heeled author simply fails to state. The reader needs to be reminded that he was all for as little regulation as possible when it served his purposes. I would recommend Mr. Paulson sign up for a remedial course in ethics. Oh, and a course in writing would help, too.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2010

    Paulson's first person account and a person to person basis of telling the story makes it compelling to read of what transpired leading up to rescuing the US financial system from the brink of collapse

    Paulson's use of the first person account in writing the book makes it compelling to read like you are actually there walking with him or seating on those conference calls that lead to the decisions to take over Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae or on the collapse of Lehman Brothers. His account of being on a first name basis with China's head of Central Bank ( of the Communist People's Republic)- "YOUR" "US/American" biggest creditor which now holds the US in its hands, and this make you really wonder that being friends with people really does help in the long run and his enumeration of a lot of people that he talked to or consulted.

    Paulson did mention that he studied literature that's why he did get to put this together, as he said he doesn't make notes. His account of meeting Bush the first time, or that his wife was a Hillary Clinton supporter, and that his mother hated Bush, make such account personal and interesting.

    I did study economics in college, but like everybody else, you do that to fill those gaps of so called "college years" but it does make you realize and understand how did this happen the rest of us ordinary mortals would have no interest in understanding except when your house is already up for foreclosure or your 401K has been diminished or wiped out, or ask why does the US (supposed to be the richest country in the world) have to borrow from China.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2013

    Stephanie

    They use big words but it's an awesome book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The definitive inside account of the fiscal meltdown

    If books about the 2008 financial collapse are starting to run together in your mind, rest assured that former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.'s memoir is unique. In the first account by a high-ranking government official, Paulson lets out some juicy details. He describes the dry heaves and insomnia he suffered throughout the crisis, his pithy banter with President George W. Bush and his irritation with the ever-perky Sarah Palin. Even so, readers get the sense from his carefully scrubbed copy that Paulson is holding back. Alas, you may have expected as much - loose lips don't help one become Treasury secretary or CEO of Goldman Sachs (his former job). Still, this memoir is enlightening for his personal perspective. getAbstract recommends it to taxpayers and policy makers seeking insight into the interactions of Washington and Wall Street.

    To learn more about this book, check out the following link: http://www.getabstract.com/summary/13515/on-the-brink.html

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2010

    Nothing new

    It seems there were nothing new here that the newspapers haven't covered during those periods described. However, still Mr. Paulson was able to explain the problems that very likely caused the economic hole we're in now; and the only implied reason why the Bush White House did the bail out was to avoid Hoover Part 2. Mr. Paulson though, despite what we know now, failed to persuade why these risky financial products are still very important to the market than to the bankers; even the mark-to-market accounting issue was not explained thoroughly although he favors it. Overall, it shows why we are in the economic mess we're in, too much specialists and bankers/financial engineers making money from risks without accountability. At the end, the culprits got away free with plenty of money in their pockets - very likely paid from the TARP money.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 11, 2010

    He's a crook

    He's a crook, a thief. Buying his book is like thanking him for stealing your money and handing it out to all his friends.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2010

    Excellent Book

    This book was a well written account of the behind the scene decisions that helped save this country from another great depression. Whether you believe in all of the decisions made by Paulson, Bernanke, and Geitner it is hard to not appreciate the effort and reason that led to the decisions that were made.
    This book can be hard to understand for those not familiar with the nuts and bolts of financial products. For that reason, it is easy for a person to judge the decisions made based on what the media or politicians have told us.
    Hank Paulson is a truly great american who stepped up to the plate not for financial gain or power but because he knew that with his experience and financial expertise, the country needed him.
    None of like the debt that the country and government is currently in but the result was not based on the decisions Bernanke and Paulson made but those that were made by the beurocrats in Washington.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2013

    Very good book. Most people who one stared this only did so beca

    Very good book. Most people who one stared this only did so because they think (know) how many conspiracies are in the financial world. None of which are this mans fault. The point of this book is to simply explain his point of view, as he saw it in his eyes. So to "babyman", I say to you, think before you post. Your comment has nothing to do with this book and is very misleading. "babyman" makes it seem as though this book was created to take heat off of Mr. Paulson or the government, but that is simply not the case. If you're interested in reading about derivatives, swaps, spreads and ratios and how greed and bad business practice brought it all down, read this book. If you want to know about Fannie and Freddie, read this book. If you want to know how bad business practices and loose laws brought the economy down, read this book.   

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2013

    Great book.

    Great book.

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  • Posted January 17, 2013

    Fantastic.

    Fantastic.

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  • Posted July 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    First-hand riveting account of the 2008 financial meltdown

    The book wastes no time on lengthy introductions or narrative preambles. The very first sentence is a direct question from President Bush to Paulson. ("Do they know it's coming Hank?" - "they" being Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and "it" being the seizure of the control of those companies by the government.) The overall narrative style of the book is very direct and conversational, which makes for an easy and straightforward read. This tone of voice is at odds with the more deliberate and cerebral image that we've got of Paulson from his public appearances. In my opinion, this is one of the virtues of the book - I don't think I would be able to sit through this many pages of Paulson's monotone, and all the technical jargon would have been unbearable. Instead, we get a very personal and personable account of one of the most difficult moments in the history of US financial system. Paulson is also very generous with bringing up details of his own life, which make him even more relatable. My personal favorite was his admission that he needs eight hours of sleep at night. It may be a small thing, but I believe that good night's rest is severely underappreciated and undervalued, especially in high-power circles like the financial sector.

    In the chapter on Paulson's personal life before joining the Bush administration we learn about the main highlights of his biography. The chapter is not long, even though Paulson has enjoyed a very versatile and interesting career. He had worked in Nixon administration, but since then has largely stayed out of politics. His family is very liberal, which makes for some interesting conversations at the dinner table and family reunions I'd imagine.

    The chapter on the economic and financial turbulence that preceded the great banking crash of 2008 is very fascinating and educational. Even though it deals with many subtle and technical topics, it is written extremely well and even people who have never been exposed to the inner workings of the financial system should be able to follow it without much difficulty. Even so, it is impossible to keep track of all the moving parts that constitute such a complex system, so if you feel that you still don't understand everything that went wrong, you are not alone. It is doubtful that even those who were in charge of situation at the time fully appreciated the problems that were brewing.

    The chapter on Bear Stearns crisis in March of 2008 is a fascinating study in behind-the-scenes happenings of one dire crisis. Most of the most important events happened over one tumultuous weekend, and this chapter details all of the relevant negotiations that were going on at the time. We are led to believe that the bailout of Bear Stearns was inevitable, and the least evil of all options that were on the table at the time. Paulson keeps stressing that a failure of the government to act at that moment would have had major serious ramifications for the entire financial sector (a theme that he comes back to throughout the book), but he doesn't go into the details of why in fact this would have been the case.

    By late March, however, it became increasingly obvious that another major financial institution was working under an increased strain. Lehman Brothers was having major difficulties, and unless something got done about it the company was headed for a collapse. However, it is still not entirely clear why this should be the government's problem.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    TERRIFIC BOOK

    The best of its breed writen by the man who was there.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2010

    Insiders View of the Great Colapse

    I heard the book on CD and enjoyed Paulson's inside look at himself, the world and politics. The most informative part was of a powerful person's feeling of helplessness in an out of control situation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2010

    annoying

    pretty much i hate this book because every copy in our store has printing issues. i suggest waiting til a new printing happens before you buy it.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 27, 2010

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    Posted February 6, 2010

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    Posted May 17, 2010

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    Posted February 8, 2010

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    Posted February 4, 2010

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