"No one on Wall Street has learned a lesson," notes Sheila Bair in the new paperback edition of her gutsy book, which details white-collar crime during the Great Financial Crisis and the banksters who got away with it.
Bair spoke at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia recently, and gave us an interview to discuss Bull by the Horns (Simon & Schuster, 2012) and her children's book, due out in 2014, about money and investing.
Bair butted heads with some other powerful regulators when she was head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., particularly Treasury Secretaries Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner. They were regulators who, she wrote, confused "what is best for large financial institutions with what is best for the broader public." She was against the bailout of American International Group Inc., for instance, which Paulson orchestrated.
She praised other regulators such as Commodity Futures Trading Commission chief Gary Gensler, who "did a terrific job leading the investigation of derivatives" and the Libor interest rate rigging (Libor stands for "London interbank offered rate"). On the other hand, "the Volcker rule still has not been finalized, and the pace of Dodd-Frank is slow and enactment weak." The Volcker rule would split off risky proprietary trading from commercial and deposit banks so customers' money wouldn't be put at stake.
A smaller tome, The Investor's Paradox by Brian Portnoy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), demystifies the opaque world of hedge funds. Portnoy offers practical advice on the limits of mass-market mutual funds and the false dichotomy between "traditional" - long-only mutual funds - and "alternative" investments such as hedge funds.
"Over the past 14 years I have conducted roughly 4,000 interviews with portfolio managers and other investment professionals," he writes. "If your expectation is that a fund manager should never lose you money, then it's fair to be disappointed when they do. But is it fair to hold that expectation in the first place?"
Instead, Portnoy takes the reader through his methodical thought process of picking winners and, most important, avoiding losers. He starts with the four basic questions of due diligence: "Can I trust you? What do you do? Are you good at your job? Are you the right fit for me?"