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FRONTLINE: Meltdown - FRONTLINE's ongoing series on the global financial crisis | PBS


+WASHINGTON - Clinton administration

  • Brooksley Born

    “What was it that was in this market that had to be hidden? Why did it have to be a completely dark market?”

    Brooksley Born

    Chair, Commodities Futures Trading Commission (1996-99)

  • Michael Greenberger

    “[Greenspan] had this utopian vision of markets working rationally the way gentlemen function in the best clubs in London. And the market blew up in his face. It's not self-regulating.”

    Michael Greenberger

    Director, Commodities Futures Trading Commission Division of Trading & Markets (1997-99)

  • Arthur Levitt

    “The failures in our regulatory and oversight mechanism that brought us to where we are today were far more consequential than merely the decision not to regulate swaps.”

    Arthur Levitt

    Chair, Securities and Exchange Commission (1993-2001)

  • Gene Sperling

    “No budget goal, no balanced budget, no surplus, no deficit number is a goal in and of itself. They are all means to having a country that has shared prosperity, where you have a growing middle class that makes room for everyone.”

    Gene Sperling

    Director, National Economic Council (1997-2001)

  • Joseph Stiglitz

    “The reason that the invisible hand seems invisible so often is that it's not there. Markets are often not efficient.”

    Joseph Stiglitz

    Council of Economic Advisers (1993-97)

  • David Walker

    “What we're going through right now is a recession. We'll get through it. It's not the big one. The big one would be a meltdown in the federal government's finances.”

    David Walker

    Comptroller General of the United States (1998-2008)

  • +Washington - Bush administration

  • Sheila Bair

    “We need an exit strategy for all of this, because we don't want government support to become a crutch. We'll have larger problems ... if that's the case.”

    Sheila Bair

    Chair, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

  • Michele Davis

    “Confidence is only going to come from the government showing action, and we've used every tool we have, and ... we need more.”

    Michele Davis

    Asst. secretary for public affairs, director of policy planning, Treasury Department (2006-2009)

  • Allan Hubbard

    “The only way to control spending is that you've got to minimize taxes, because if you minimize taxes, [Congress knows] the deficit can't be too big.”

    Allan Hubbard

    Director, National Economic Council (2005-07)

  • Paul O'Neill

    “Here's the fundamental problem: How much money can a society borrow before it begins to have negative effects on our ability to borrow any more?”

    Paul O'Neill

    Secretary of the Treasury (2001-02)

  • Harvey Pitt

    “The world to which the securities laws apply -- laws now 70 and 75 years old -- is light years away from the world we have today.”

    Harvey Pitt

    Chair, Securities and Exchange Commission (2001-03)

  • David Walker

    “What we're going through right now is a recession. We'll get through it. It's not the big one. The big one would be a meltdown in the federal government's finances.”

    David Walker

    Comptroller General of the United States (1998-2008)

  • +Washington - Obama administration

  • Sheila Bair

    “We need an exit strategy for all of this, because we don't want government support to become a crutch. We'll have larger problems ... if that's the case.”

    Sheila Bair

    Chair, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

  • Timothy Geithner

    “I don't think there's a credible argument you can make that we can fix this system by leaving it largely intact.”

    Timothy Geithner

    Secretary of the Treasury

  • Gary Gensler

    “Looking back now, knowing what we know now, I believe we should have done more to protect the American public ... through stronger, more vigorous regulation.”

    Gary Gensler

    Chair, Commodities Futures Trading Commission

  • Peter Orszag

    “The single most important thing we can do on our long-term entitlement problem is to reduce the rate of growth of health care costs. Everything else is almost a footnote.”

    Peter Orszag

    Director, Office of Management and Budget

  • +Washington - Congress

  • Chris Dodd

    “This is the chairman of the most important central bank in the world, announcing to the leadership of Congress, ‘Unless we act within days, the financial system will melt down.’”

    Chris Dodd

    Chair, Senate Banking Committee (D-Conn.)

  • id="e17" >Chris Dodd

    “Someone once said that the Mafia would blush at some of the rates that are being charged today.”

    Chris Dodd

    Chair, Senate Banking Committee (D-Conn.)

  • Barney Frank

    “People said, ‘Oh, let them go belly up,’ and then it turned out dead bellies aren't as much fun to look at as maybe right-wing theology predicted.”

    Barney Frank

    Chair, House Financial Services Committee (D-Mass.)

  • Newt Gingrich

    “Reagan would’ve told you every time you try raising taxes in Washington, Washington spends more. Washington's a city which will spend as much as it can get away with, without regard to tax rates.”

    Newt Gingrich

    Speaker of the House, (1995-99) (R-Ga.)

  • Jeb Hensarling

    “I can assure you, you don't want Congress to be in the business of allocating credit in the United States of America.”

    Jeb Hensarling

    Representative (R-Texas), member of TARP Congressional Oversight Panel

  • +WALL STREET/BANKING INDUSTRY

  • Nessa Feddis

    “History has shown that government controls, interest rate caps, don’t work. It means that a lot of people who need loans don’t get them.”

    Nessa Feddis

    Senior counsel and vice president, American Bankers Association

  • Alan “Ace” Greenberg

    “I wasn’t as vociferous as I should have been, maybe. It’s very hard to stop a locomotive going 60 miles per hour.”

    Alan “Ace” Greenberg

    Former CEO, chair, Bear Stearns

  • Rick Lake

    “If the government starts taking rights away from consumers by saying this product can be offered and that product cannot be, where does it stop?”

    Rick Lake

    CEO, California Check Cashing

  • Ken Lewis

    “It just seemed to me that the conservative, right thing to do was take the [TARP] money. Little did I know the pain that would invoke…”

    Ken Lewis

    CEO, Bank of America

  • Shailesh Mehta

    “Lending money to people is never a difficult, OK? People will take money if you're willing to give [it to] them.”

    Shailesh Mehta

    Former CEO, Providian

  • Bill Strunk

    “Most people know that they’re overdrawn. They'll just do it anyway.”

    Bill Strunk

    Banking consultant

  • John Thain

    “"[Lewis’] shareholders were angry. ... He said, ‘You’re gonna take the blame for the fourth quarter.’ I guess in his view, someone had to take the fall.”

    John Thain

    CEO Merrill Lynch (2007-08)

  • +ECONOMISTS/ANALYSTS/MEDIA

  • Adam Davidson

    “If we were shooting the horror movie, the first sign something is going wrong would have been in 2006. It would have been in the office of someone in the mortgage industry...”

    Adam Davidson

    Correspondent, NPR/Planet Money

  • Martin Eakes

    “It’s almost as if 15 years ago, the industry discovered that you could make money off of the most vulnerable people in America over and over, and that would be the business model.”

    Martin Eakes

    CEO, Center for Responsible Lending

  • Martin Feldstein

    “You have a bank the size of Citigroup with a $2 trillion balance sheet, and you invest $25 billion in them. What’s that going to do?”

    Martin Feldstein

    Economist, Harvard University; President Reagan’s chief economic adviser

  • Mark Gertler

    “I kept thinking, the one way we’re going to have a Great Depression is if the political process gets in the way.”

    Mark Gertler

    Economist, New York University

  • Diana Henriques

    “A world full of Warren Buffetts, geniuses, who could make money for you had become so embedded in the financial psychology of this country, it made Madoff increasingly plausible.”

    Diana Henriques

    The New York Times

  • Simon Johnson

    “We’ll wake up one day, there’ll be a story in the paper: ... ‘The Fed now provides 70, 80, 90 percent of the credit in the U.S. economy.’”

    Simon Johnson

    Chief economist, International Monetary Fund (2007-08)

  • Paul Krugman

    “I think it’s possible to greatly exaggerate the extent to which the players involved knew what they were doing.”

    Paul Krugman

    Economist, Princeton University; columnist The New York Times

  • Elizabeth Warren

    “The big mistake is to say, ‘North 90 miles an hour,’ and then go south 140 miles an hour. Confidence that these guys have a clue drops to zero.”

    Elizabeth Warren

    Law professor, Harvard University; chair, TARP Congressional Oversight Panel


  • Category: Personal Finance

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