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16+ 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 by Andrew Ross Sorkin

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
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