Thursday 18 January 2018

Books - Non-fiction: Stress Test by Timothy Geitner

Stress Test: Timothy Geithner
Stress Test: Timothy Geithner
Ed Power

Ed Power

Incredibly, we are almost six years into the Recession and, if it no longer quite feels as if the world is about to come crashing down, there is still a sense the economy is on life support and might require mouth to mouth resuscitation at any moment.

Indeed, it can be argued the recession was less a cyclical cataclysm than a major realignment – ours is a time when workplace insecurity and high unemployment feel part of the landscape rather than a gross aberration. Everyone can afford a smartphone, nobody can look forward to a job for life.

One of the key players in the struggle, through 2008 and 2009, to prevent the global economy collapsing was Timothy Geithner, the US' former Treasury Secretary. Geithner served in the Obama administration between 2009 and 2013 and prior to that was even more closely involved in the fire-fighting that went on after the international mortgage bubble popped, in his capacity as president of the Federal Reserve of New York.

Geithner admits he did not expect the mortgage crisis to buffet the economy as violently as it did and that, even as investment house Bear Stearns wobbled in early 2008, he had no sense of the traumas to come.

He is honest about sometimes not feeling up to the challenge of rescuing the American (and by implication international) economy. He wryly remembers giving a speech intended to boost confidence – only for it to have precisely the opposite effect. "My voice wavered," he writes. "I tried to sound forceful but I just sounded like someone trying to sound forceful."

Books written by financial services insiders can be a drag, a triumph of analysis over drama. Geithner, however, has delivered a page-turner. Read it and weep.


First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday's Irish Independent

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