There was a nice review Monday in the Las Vegas Business Press that, unfortunately, had one significant error. (I don’t mean something I disagree with, I mean a factual mistake).

I wrote the reviewer thanking him for “the kind words about Bailout Nation” — but gently noted this small correction in the review regarding “Who is to blame.”

Since I never heard back from him, I feel compelled to correct the record.

The reviewer wrote: “Ritholtz finds two main villains behind the current crisis: former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and former President George W. Bush.”

I responded:

“While I was wholly unimpressed with President Bush during the crisis, I find many more people more deserving of blame than him. On page 232, I list two dozen players who are primarily at fault — and while Greenspan is at the top of the list, George W. Bush comes in somewhere around the middle (depending how you count ~10 or 15).

These more blameworthy folks are:

The Federal Reserve (monetary policy)
Senator Phil Gramm
Rating agencies
Mortgage originators and lending banks
The Federal Reserve again (as bank regulator)
Borrowers and home buyers
The five biggest Wall Street firms (Bear Stear ns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs) and their CEOs

In the book, I rated all of these players as more culpable George W. Bush.

If its individuals, rather than firms and titled positions (i.e., CEO), than the #2 man on the list (again page 232) has to be Senator Phil Gramm.”

Other than that, its a good review . . .


Big bailouts a perversion of capitalism, author argues
Las Vegas Business Press, October 05, 2009

Category: Bailout Nation

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

8 Responses to “Correcting a Review of Bailout Nation”

  1. ab initio says:


    I think you missed Bob Rubin and Larry Summers who ran Treasury and pushed for the repeal of Glass-Steagal and where instrumental in the passing of the Commodities Futures Modernization Act and making Brooksley Born look like an idiot for suggesting that CDS should be regulated and traded on exchanges.

    IMO, Bob Rubin was at the epicenter of the corruption and crony capitalism that directly lead to the financial crisis. Note that he made his way through the revolving door to become chairman of Citigroup after enabling Sandy Weill to merge Travelers with Citi.

    Of course no list of the villains is complete with Hank Paulson way at the top.

    And Bill Clinton should get a fair share of epithets for signing all these bills into law.

  2. Nope — they are both mentioned prominently in the book, and get their own index entry

    Rubin, Robert E.: 72, 213-14, 224-25, 232, 237
    Summers, Lawrence (Larry): pages 27, 213-14, 225, 232, 237

    The repeal of Glass-Steagal and the Commodities Futures Modernization Act both get prominent play in Bailout Nation.

    You haven’t finished reading it yet . . . .

  3. MorticiaA says:

    “Other than that, its a good review . . .” I love it! A review of a review.

  4. HCSKnight says:

    Not surprised by the reviewer’s “mistake”… journalists and lawyers, the two professions that only a mother could respect….

    FYI, “I don’t mean something I disagreement”…..


  5. DonF says:

    I don’t see how one could come to a conclusion that two main villains were found by reading any part of Bailout Nation. In fact, I think the response here (that multiple people/groups were responsible) is stressed more than once throughout the book if I recall correctly. Certainly an odd take-away that was rightly corrected. On the bright side, perhaps some Anti-Bush folks (of which there are a few) might be prompted to buy the book now.

  6. Robespierre says:

    “The five biggest Wall Street firms (Bear Stear ns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs) and their CEOs”

    And yet no one investigated all of the richer today…

  7. Its Me says:

    The list you posted, I wouldn’t except as as explanation for an industrial accident investigation. Its too diffused.

    The list is identifies contributing factors not the root cause. The reviewer rightly wanted names to identify to his readers. He (we) want culpable persons or single time events. Not “it was the big wall street banks”.

  8. keithpiccirillo says:

    I have read three prominent books this summer, Bailout Nation, Outliers from Malcolm Gladwell, and The Ivy Portfolio by Meb Faber.
    The real thumper is my rural library will bring a book in only if you ask for it and they deem it worthy.
    I have another twenty years to slowly accumulate good readings in the business/financial section.