Bad Banks, Big Bailouts and Bruises
by Jackie Calmes NY Times:
From the opening of this latest book on the government’s (mis)handling of the 2008-9 financial crisis, Neil Barofsky establishes his populist narrative from his two-plus years as the “TARP cop” overseeing the $700 billion big-bank bailout officially known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Mr. Barofsky, a former Manhattan prosecutor, is the idealistic alien sent in an emergency to Planet Washington, where he does battle with the self-important, self-serving powers entrenched there or simply taking a spin through its revolving door to Wall Street. He is SIGTARP (in Washington-speak, the Special Inspector General for TARP). But ultimately he is outmatched, and evil triumphs over good.
In the preface to “Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street,” it is April 2010, and after more than a year on the job, Mr. Barofsky is meeting for a clear-the-air drink with one of his nemeses, Herbert Allison, the former head of the financial giants Merrill Lynch, TIAA-CREF and Fannie Mae, who came out of retirement to run the bank-rescue program for the Treasury Department. Mr. Barofsky, wearing an unseasonal wool suit at odds with a “Washington-appropriate wardrobe,” is poised to let the hostess seat them at a front table of her choosing, but Mr. Allison insists on a private table in the rear. Then he gets down to business.