Quotes from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves

Andrew Ross Sorkin ·  600 pages

Rating: (29.4K votes)


“While the financial crisis destroyed careers and reputations, and left many more bruised and battered, it also left the survivors with a genuine sense of invulnerability at having made it back from the brink. Still missing in the current environment is a genuine sense of humility.”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves


“There are no atheists in foxholes or ideologues in a financial crisis. Ben Bernanke”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves


“Everyone thinks Goldman is so fucking smart,” he railed. “Just because Goldman says this is the right valuation, you shouldn’t assume it’s correct just because Goldman said it. My brother works at Goldman, and he’s an idiot!”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves


“The numbers were, at best, guesstimates, and all three men knew it. The relevant figure would ultimately be the one that represented the most they could possibly ask from Congress without raising too many questions. Whatever that sum turned out to be, they knew they could count on (Interim Assistant Secretary of the Treasury) Kashkari to perform some sort of mathematical voodoo to justify it:”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves


“This generation of Wall Street CEOs could be the ones to forfeit America’s trust. When the history of the Great Recession is written, they can be singled out as the bonus babies who were so shortsighted that they put the economy at risk and contributed to the destruction of their own companies. Or they can acknowledge how Americans’ trust has been lost and take the first steps to earn it back.”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves



“The battle between bankers and traders is the closest thing to class warfare on Wall Street. Investment banking was esteemed as an art, while trading was more like a sport, something that required skill, but not necessarily brains or creativity.”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves


“Size, we are told, is not a crime. But size may, at least, become noxious by reason of the means through which it was attained or the uses to which it is put. — Louis Brandeis, Other People’s Money: And How the Bankers Use It, 1913”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves


“In an industry based on analyzing raw data, Gregory was defiantly a gut man. He was also an advocate of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which used Jungian psychological principles to identify people as having one of sixteen distinct personality types. (A typical question was, “Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world?”) Gregory used Myers-Briggs results to help make personnel decisions. It was his conviction that individual expertise was overrated; if you had smart, talented people, you could plug them into any role, as sheer native talent and brains trumped experience. Gregory seemed to revel in moving people around, playing chess with their careers.”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves


“Goldman’s top four officers could not sell more than 10 percent of their Goldman shares until 2011, or until Buffett sold his own, even if they left the firm. He had explained his rationale for this condition to Blankfein by saying, “If I’m buying the horse, I’m buying the jockey, too.”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves


“Both had started in commercial paper, probably the sleepiest, least risky part of the firm’s business. Fixed-income trading was nothing like Fuld and Gregory knew in their day: Banks were creating increasingly complex products many levels removed from the underlying asset. This entailed a much greater degree of risk, a reality that neither totally grasped and showed remarkably little interest in learning more about. While the firm did employ a well-regarded chief risk officer, Madelyn Antoncic, who had a PhD in economics and had worked at Goldman Sachs, her input was virtually nil. She was often asked to leave the room when issues concerning risk came up at executive committee meetings, and in late 2007, she was removed from the committee altogether.”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves



“his way of thinking, the spreading of risk could actually exacerbate the consequences of otherwise isolated problems—a view not shared by his original boss at the Fed, Alan Greenspan. “These changes appear to have made the financial system able to absorb more easily a broader array of shocks, but they have not eliminated risk,” he said in a speech in 2006. “They have not ended the tendency of markets to occasional periods of mania and panic. They have not eliminated the possibility of failure of a major financial intermediary. And they cannot fully insulate the broader financial system from the effects of such a failure.” Geithner understood that the Wall Street boom would eventually falter, and he knew from his experience in Japan that it was not likely to end well. Of course, he had no way of knowing precisely how or when that would happen, and no amount of studying or preparation could have equipped him to deal with the events that began in early March 2008.”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves


“The drive home was excruciating; Fuld sat in the backseat feeling paralyzed. Gone was the bluster, the gusto, the fight. He was still angry, but really, he was just sad. For once, it was completely quiet except for the hum of the engine and the tires rolling down the highway.”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves


“Building computer models based on years of historical data on corporate bonds, they concluded that this new device—a credit default swap—seemed foolproof. The odds of a wave of defaults occurring simultaneously were remote, short of another Great Depression. So, absent a catastrophe of that magnitude, the holders of the swap could expect to receive millions of dollars in premiums a year. It was like free money.”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves


“The pyramidlike structure of a collateralized debt obligation is a beautiful thing—if you are fascinated by the intricacies of financial engineering. A banker creates a CDO by assembling pieces of debt according to their credit ratings and their yields. The mistake made by AIG and others who were lured by them was believing that the ones with the higher credit ratings were such a sure bet that the companies did not bother to set aside much capital against them in the unlikely event that the CDO would generate losses.”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves


“In 2007 one of its biggest clients, Goldman Sachs, demanded that AIG put up billions of dollars more in collateral as required under its swaps contracts. AIG disclosed the existence of the collateral dispute in November. At the December conference, Charles Gates, a longtime insurance analyst for Credit Suisse, asked pointedly what it meant that “your assessment of certain super-senior credit default swaps and the related collateral . . . differs significantly from your counterparties.”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves



“Wilson had a compelling reason for having recommended Herlihy: He had been involved in some of the biggest takeover battles in corporate America. Earlier in the year he had helped advise JP Morgan Chase in its acquisition of Bear Stearns. His firm—Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz—was synonymous with corporate warfare. One of its founding partners, Martin Lipton, had devised among the most famous of antitakeover defenses, the “poison pill.” If Treasury was planning a government-led hostile takeover—the first in history—then Herlihy was certainly the lawyer they wanted.”
― Andrew Ross Sorkin, quote from Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis — and Themselves


About the author

Andrew Ross Sorkin
Born place: in New York, New York, The United States
Born date February 19, 1977
See more on GoodReads

Popular quotes

“Vintage books, old china, antiques; maybe I love old things so much because I feel impermanent myself.”
― Josh Lanyon, quote from Fatal Shadows


“A tragedy has taken place on our land, and even though it did not take place on our watch, we are its inheritors, and the earth remembers.”
― Kent Nerburn, quote from Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder


“Your name?" George asked him directly. He had probably seen the man a dozen times before yet did not know anything about him. King Davit would have no doubt have known half the man's history already.
"Henry."
George took Henry's hand firmly in his own and looked into his eyes. This had to be done delicately, to make sure this Henry did not think him a fool. He tried to think of how his father would do it.
"Thank you, Henry, for your concern. It is a comfort to know I am so well guarded. I will make sure to praise you when next I speak to the lord general. But for now I think there is no need to worry.”
― Mette Ivie Harrison, quote from The Princess and the Hound


“I keep what I know about Sarah Lynn and Lawrence to myself. I also remind myself that even if Sarah Lynn does have a scary strict father, that doesn't release her from the responsibility of treating others with respect. Abuse of power is wrong, no matter the context, no matter the history.
What is "power" anyway? Power is an ego trip. Power is a way to rise yourself up by lowering others, and I want nothing of it.”
― Lauren Myracle, quote from Bliss


“But not hurting people and knowing how to get along with people, ... they're different.”
― Carol Plum-Ucci, quote from The Body of Christopher Creed


Interesting books

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden
(39.8K)
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly
(7.6K)
The Hen Who Dreamed...
by Sun-mi Hwang
A History of Reading
(3.4K)
A History of Reading
by Alberto Manguel
Reawakened
(1.8K)
The Eye of Minds
(29.2K)
The Eye of Minds
by James Dashner
Preacher, Volume 1: Gone to Texas
(56.5K)
Preacher, Volume 1:...
by Garth Ennis

About BookQuoters

BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.

We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.

Founded in 2023, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.