Geithner’s Forthcoming Memoir Aims to Connect the Dots of the Financial Crisis

Geithner’s Forthcoming Memoir Aims to Connect the Dots of the Financial Crisis

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Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will publish his insider account of the effort to bring the nation back from the brink of the financial crisis later this year.

Spoiler alert: He feels unappreciated.

Called Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises, the book promises to be “the definitive account of the unprecedented effort to save the U.S. economy from collapse in the wake of the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression,” according to its promotional materials.

In a statement on the book’s website, Geithner says, “I hope this book will help answer some of the questions that still linger about the crisis. Why did it happen, and how did we let it happen? How did we decide who got bailed out? Why didn’t we nationalize more banks, or let more banks fail? How did we manage to convince the left we were Wall Street’s wingmen while convincing Wall Street we were Che Guevaras in suits? Why didn’t we do more (or less) about the housing market? Why didn’t we get more (or less) fiscal stimulus? Why isn’t the economy booming again? And what really happened with Lehman, anyway? Couldn’t we have put out the fire back then?”

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Noting that this was likely not the last financial crisis the country will face, Geithner writes that he hopes his book will help future policymakers learn lessons from the response to the Great Recession.

The book, to be published on May 13 by Crown Publishers, will include Geithner’s personal impressions of President Barack Obama, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and others.

The details of Geithner’s recollections will no doubt be fascinating reading to those who followed the ins and outs of the government’s response to the financial crisis and the Great Recession. But in the note on his website, Geithner gives a pretty clear sense that he feels the work he and his colleagues did in the aftermath of the financial crisis is greatly under-unappreciated.

“Two administrations—one Republican, one Democratic, with just enough bipartisan support to get a polarized Congress to do its part—managed to do what was necessary to end the crisis and start a recovery. The small group of key policy makers worked together surprisingly well, arguing, agonizing, sometimes agreeing to disagree, but mostly trying to get the right answer and minimize the time wasted on bureaucratic conflict. We saved the economy from a failing financial system, though we lost the country doing it.”

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A longtime reporter on the intersection of the federal government and the private sector, Rob Garver served as a National Correspondent, based in Washington, D.C., for four years. He has written for ProPublica, The New York Times and other publications.