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Thursday, 3 December 2009

Too Big To Fail

You might feel that you have maxed out on
the credit crunch, that you know it all. You
donʼt. But you have a chance to enter the
circle of trust and see the inner secretes by
picking up a copy of Too Big To Fail, by
Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Maybe Sorkin has access to a swarm of
nanobots, or maybe he has the personal
brain scans of all involved because the level
of detail in this book is astonishing. We are
talking deeply private stuff here and some of
it is explosive. We all have suspected that Goldman's runs
Street and that its tentacles have spread throughout
government. Read Sorkin's book and you will see your
suspicions confirmed.

One of the criticisms of this book, which I am not sure that
Sorkin can be blamed for, is that so many of the characters
have the same personality type. This becomes wearing after
a while. There is only so much testosterone you can take before
feeling as so you have been hammered over the head by the
fist of an alpha male.

For me, the key to the book was the passage where
Fuld attends a black tie do and encounters Hank Paulson.
 Paulson and Fuld were in regular contact at the time. Paulson
had repeatedly suggested to Fuld that he needed to find a buyer
for Lehman. It was an open secret that Lehman was on the ropes
and would be the next firm, after Bear Stearns to fail.

Fuld heard Paulson out. On his way home he sent an email from
 his Blackberry to members of his management team. He ran through
the list of things that were worrying Paulson. But he failed to mention
that Paulson's biggest concern was Lehman itself. That's the problem
with alpha males, they don't listen. The tragedy of the credit crisis was
that it was always someone else's problem. No one took ownership,
took responsibility.


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