Senseless Panic: How Washington Failed America

Front Cover
John Wiley & Sons, Jun 25, 2012 - Business & Economics - 240 pages
The truth about the 2008 economic crisis from a Washington insider

The 1980s opened with the prime interest rate at an astonishing 21.5 percent, leading to a severe recession with unemployment reaching nearly 11 percent. Depression-like conditions befell the country, the entire thrift industry was badly insolvent and the major money center banks were loaded with third world debt. Some 3,000 bank and thrifts failed, including nine of Texas’ ten largest, and Continental Illinois, which, at the time, was the seventh largest bank in the nation. These severe conditions were not only handled without creating a panic, the economy actually embarked on the longest peacetime expansion in history.

In Senseless Panic: How Washington Failed America, William M. Isaac, Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) during the banking and S&L crises of the 1980s, details what was different about 2008’s meltdown that allowed the failure of a comparative handful of institutions to nearly shut down the world’s financial system. The book also tells the rousing story of Isaac’s time at the FDIC.

  • Details the mistakes that led to the panic of 2008 and 2009
  • An updated paperback revision of the bestselling book on the 2008 economic crisis, including a fascinating new Epilogue
  • Demystifies the conditions America faced in 2008
  • Provides a road map for avoiding similar shutdowns and panics in the future
  • Includes a foreword by Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker

Senseless Panic is a provocative, quick-paced, and thoughtful analysis of what went wrong with the nation's banking system, a blunt indictment of United States policy, and a road map for making sure it doesn’t happen again.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jmcilree - LibraryThing

First part of book describes author's experiences as head of FDIC in 1980's and his ad hoc policy in reacting to bank failures. Sometimes he let banks fail, sometimes arranged shotgun marriages ... Read full review


Home Alone
The Early Years 19781981
The Savings Bank and SL Crises
The Butcher Empire Collapses
Continental Illinois Topples
Preparing to Leave
Policy Mistakes1989 through 2007
Monetary Policy
Schizophrenic Failure Resolution
The 700 Billion Bailout
Never Again
Authors Notes on Sources

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2012)

William M. Isaac is Senior Managing Director and Global Head of Financial Institutions for FTI Consulting and Chairman of Fifth Third Bancorp. Both are positions he assumed after this book was published in its hardcover edition. He served as Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation during the banking and S&L crises of the 1980s, when some 3,000 banks and thrifts failed, including nine of the ten largest Texas banks as well as Continental Illinois, then the nation's seventh largest bank. Isaac writes frequently for the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Forbes, Washington Times, Washington Post, New York Times, American Banker, and other leading publications; testifies before Congress; and makes regular appearances on leading radio and television programs.

Bibliographic information