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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (348 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: David Wessel Narrator: Dan Woren Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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“Whatever it takes”

That was Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s vow as the worst financial panic in more than fifty years gripped the world and he struggled to avoid the once unthinkable: a repeat of the Great Depression. Brilliant but temperamentally cautious, Bernanke researched and wrote about the causes of the Depression during his career as an academic. Then when thrust into a role as one of the most important people in the world, he was compelled to boldness by circumstances he never anticipated.

The president of the United States can respond instantly to a missile attack with America’s military might, but he cannot respond to a financial crisis with real money unless Congress acts. The Fed chairman can. Bernanke did. Under his leadership the Fed spearheaded the biggest government intervention in more than half a century and effectively became the fourth branch of government, with no direct accountability to the nation’s voters.

Believing that the economic catastrophe of the 1930s was largely the fault of a sluggish and wrongheaded Federal Reserve, Bernanke was determined not to repeat that epic mistake. In this penetrating look inside the most powerful economic institution in the world, David Wessel illuminates its opaque and undemocratic inner workings, while revealing how the Bernanke Fed led the desperate effort to prevent the world’s financial engine from grinding to a halt.

In piecing together the fullest, most authoritative, and alarming picture yet of this decisive moment in our nation’s history, In Fed We Trust answers the most critical questions. Among them:

• What did Bernanke and his team at the Fed know–and what took them by surprise? Which of their actions stretched–or even ripped through–the Fed’s legal authority? Which chilling numbers and indicators made them feel they had no choice?

• What were they thinking at pivotal moments during the race to sell Bear Stearns, the unsuccessful quest to save Lehman Brothers, and the virtual nationalization of AIG, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac? What were they saying to one another when, as Bernanke put it to Wessel: “We came very close to Depression 2.0”?

• How well did Bernanke, former treasury secretary Hank Paulson, and then New York Fed president Tim Geithner perform under intense pressure? 

• How did the crisis prompt a reappraisal of the once-impregnable reputation of Alan Greenspan? 

In Fed We Trust is a breathtaking and singularly perceptive look at a historic episode in American and global economic history.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Gives a revealing blow-by-blow account of the recent financial crisis.”

    New York Times

  • “Wessel delivers an engrossing account of Bernanke’s improvisational responses to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.”


  • “Persuasively told and richly reported…It will win awards and inspire copycats.”


  • “David Wessel brings his deep knowledge of the Federal Reserve and U.S. politics and economics to a topic that will be studied by historians for decades to come…No one can understand what happened and what did not happen without reading this book.”

    Joseph E. Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics and author of Globalization and its Discontents

  • One of the 2009 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Howard Olsen | 2/16/2014

    " Yet another book about the Crash of '08, this one told from the perspective of Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve. The writing is fluid and at times elegant. Wessel explains the nuts and bolts of central bankery well, although it can still be hard to grasp just how much power and money the Federal Reserve has under its control. Like the military and the courts, the Fed is supposed to lie outside politics, and for the most part Wessel describes a Fed whose chairman and governors focus intently upon the economy. Warning: if you are a Bernanke critic, this book may make you gag at times, as Wessel portrays him as the man who would do Whatever It Takes to bring the US through the crisis. Never mind that the Fed missed the housing bubble and the beginnings of the crisis, flailed around for over year, and then facilitated the transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars to Wall Street to stop a world wide bank run. This a valuable addition to the Crash of '08 literature. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Daniel | 2/13/2014

    " Bankers are not often heros, but this book of course, about bankers, is an exception to that rule in that the hero is Ben. I think especially after a few years hindsight on the great collapses of 2008 this is a good one to read to see how the Wall Street crowd was looking to the American taxpayer to save them from their own actions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Ray | 2/6/2014

    " This is a very readable book discussing the battle by the FED, and Bernake, to prevent the U.S. economy from collapsing into a full depression at the end of 2008. Many insights into the behind-the-scenes decisions being made, the extradordinary steps made to prop up the economy, and the complexity of it all. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Larry | 1/23/2014

    " Review of Ben Bernanke's interesting 2 yrs. Still amazes me how these otherwise smart guys are not so smart. (Except that the CEOs were smart enough to make gobs of money irresponsibly) "

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