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School Hosts Author of Too Big to Fail

November 14, 2009
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 Sorkin gave insights and signed books at the event
 held in Storer Auditorium.

Students, alumni and other members of the School community had the opportunity this month to hear from and meet the author of a book that has gotten a lot of attention on Wall Street and around the country in recent weeks.

Andrew Ross Sorkin, the New York Times financial columnist and author of Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System - and Themselves, spoke and conducted a book signing at the School Nov.  13.

Sorkin’s book, which has been on the New York Times bestseller list for the past three weeks, delivers a behind-the-scenes, moment-by-moment account of how the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression developed into a global tsunami.

Sorkin said he began planning the book only hours after finding out about the Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch collapses.  He hoped the book would convey the numerous complex events that were occurring so rapidly in a way that the average American could understand and relate to.

“What I really wanted to do was to lay it all out,” said Sorkin.

Sorkin said he spent several months interviewing business and government officials, obtaining unprecedented access to the players involved in the crisis.

“The goal was to reconstruct the record and take readers and the public for the first time inside the room [with these officials] so that we could make the judgments,” Sorkin said.  “People provided their calendars, their memos, and it was really remarkable because the CEOs and many of the most senior people in government sat and really opened up in a way that I didn’t expect,”

Sorkin’s book not only analyzes the events that sparked the current economic recession, but also analyzes how these events will impact future economic practice and policy.  Sorkin explained that he is worried that the concept of a company being “too big to fail” will eventually lead to future failures by large corporations.

“It effectively means that the government by backstopping all these banks has provided a safety net under them,” Sorkin said.  “And, because they know there’s a safety net and they know they can’t fail, will executives in the future actually take more risks? We’ve effectively created a disconnect that rewards failure.”

Sorkin took time to answer students’ questions about the writing process, journalism as a profession, and the future of America’s economy.  He closed with some career advice for students and encouraged them to work hard at what they love to do.

“Persistence over talent in my mind always wins,” said Sorkin.  “As someone who never thought he’d be a reporter, never thought I could stand in front of you or write a book or go on TV or any of these things, it was solely a matter of the passion and persistence to want to do this, and I think if you have that drive and desire to do it and care enough, you will succeed.”

-Tyler Franz

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