Sunday, February 21, 2010

On The Brink By Henry M. Paulson, Jr.

By Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
Listen To An Excerpt

About The Book:
When Hank Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, was appointed in 2006 to become the nation's next Secretary of the Treasury, he knew that his move from Wall Street to Washington would be daunting and challenging.

But Paulson had no idea that a year later, he would find himself at the very epicenter of the world's most cataclysmic financial crisis since the Great Depression. Major institutions including Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Merrill Lynch, and Citigroup, among others-all steeped in rich, longstanding tradition-literally teetered at the edge of collapse. Panic ensnared international markets. Worst of all, the credit crisis spread to all parts of the U.S. economy and grew more ominous with each passing day, destroying jobs across America and undermining the financial security millions of families had spent their lifetimes building.

This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime economic nightmare. Events no one had thought possible were happening in quick succession, and people all over the globe were terrified that the continuing downward spiral would bring unprecedented chaos. All eyes turned to the United States Treasury Secretary to avert the disaster.

This, then, is Hank Paulson's first-person account. From the man who was in the very middle of this perfect economic storm, ON THE BRINK is Paulson's fast-paced retelling of the key decisions that had to be made with lightning speed. Paulson puts the reader in the room for all the intense moments as he addressed urgent market conditions, weighed critical decisions, and debated policy and economic considerations with of all the notable players-including the CEOs of top Wall Street firms as well as Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, Sheila Bair, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, and then-President George W. Bush.

More than an account about numbers and credit risks gone bad, ON THE BRINK is an extraordinary story about people and politics-all brought together during the world's impending financial Armageddon.

About The Author:
Henry M. Paulson, Jr. served under President George W. Bush as the 74th Secretary of the Treasury from June 2006 until January 2009. Before coming to Treasury, Paulson was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs since the firm's initial public offering in 1999. He joined Goldman Sachs Chicago Office in 1974 and rose through the ranks holding several positions including, Managing Partner of the firm's Chicago office, Co-head of the firm's investment Banking Division, President and Chief Operating Officer, and Co-Senior partner.

Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, Paulson was a member of the White House Domestic Council, serving as Staff Assistant to the President from 1972 to 1973, and as Staff Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon from 1970 to 1972.

Paulson graduated from Dartmouth in 1968, where he majored in English, was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and an All Ivy, All East football player. He received an M.B.A. from Harvard in 1970.

My Thoughts: 
Okay! Everyone step back a few feet because I'm wading deep water here! Economics and Global Financial Systems are not subjects I read about every day. Nor do I expect to have a front row seat on a financial roller coaster with a faulty breaking system. Picture me with my arms raised, screaming as I plunge off the first monstrous hill. That's what it felt like to follow Author Henry M. Paulson, Jr. through his book ON THE BRINK - Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System. This is not a work of fiction, but at times it reads like a really good 'End-Of-The-World-As-We-Know It' blockbuster.

One of the things that jumped off the pages for me was the idiotic political-posturing of some key players. I wanted to grab them by the ears and shout, 'The ship is going down, quit polishing the brass!' I enjoyed sitting in on all those high-level meetings with the author. I kept waiting for someone to throw me out because I lacked the right security clearance.

Even for a financial novice, like myself, I was surprised that I could follow most of what was going on. Some of the language and references went over my head, but all-in-all, the author's style makes it easy to read and comprehend a lot of the deeper material. Getting a first-hand glimpse behind the scenes of what we were all viewing on TV and newspapers is worth the read.

Getting a closeup view of the giants of 'Big Business and Finance' as some of them teetered, wobbled, and toppled, was nothing less than traumatic. When names like AIG, Fannie Mae, Merrill Lynch, and others like them are synonymous with instability, well...  You'll just have to buy the ticket and take the ride yourself to understand what I mean.

A complimentary review copy of this book was provided by Hachette Book Group

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