‘Bailout,’ by Neil Barofsky: Barofsky refers throughout to the $700 billion bailout, never clarifying that less than $300 billion of that amount went out the door by the time TARP expired; that not a penny went to banks during the Obama administration; and that the big banks repaid taxpayers with interest.
As ugly and flawed as the rescue process was… an economic collapse was averted, and that Main Street is recovering: slowly, but typically so for recessions brought on by credit crises….
To the extent that Mr. Barofsky acknowledges that neither big losses nor big fraud cases occurred, he credits the anti-fraud measures he pressed Treasury to include in programs and contracts. Yet his book is a chronicle of complaints that Treasury undercut, blindsided and ignored him. Perhaps the biggest criticism of Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner suggested by Mr. Barofsky’s account is that Mr. Geithner should have been a lot more conciliatory toward this zealous inspector general, if only to avoid becoming the biggest villain in Mr. Barofsky’s morality tale….
While Mr. Barofsky pointedly describes the Wall Street background of every Washington player who has one, he never notes that Mr. Geithner does not fit the theme, having served in the public sector, starting at Treasury a quarter-century ago, despite lucrative offers during the Street’s boom years.
Mr. Barofsky’s book adds little of substance to the mini-library on the worst financial crisis since the Depression….
Mr. Barofsky, now a senior fellow at New York University School of Law, does a good job of describing the complex financial products at the core of the crisis. And he does open windows into how Washington works, though not always those he intended…. [He]develops backdoor relationships with the offices of friendly [and highly, highly partisan] Republican lawmakers like Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Representative Darrell Issa of California, leaking information back and forth to shape news coverage. Then he wonders why Treasury keeps him in the dark?
Mr. Barofsky justifiably spends time on Treasury’s failure to get banks to stem home foreclosures. But he charges that Treasury helped give birth to the Tea Party “by rolling out a hurried and poorly thought-out mortgage modification program,” when what actually spawned that movement was conservatives’ opposition to the very idea of bailing out troubled homeowners, which Mr. Barofsky so favors....
If Treasury has been making policies exclusively “by Wall Street for Wall Street,” as Mr. Barofsky says, why then has a once friendly Wall Street turned so hostile to President Obama’s re-election?