Why Some Firms Thrive While Others Fail

February 8, 2013

The financial crisis revealed fundamental shortcomings in both public and private American institutions. While the firms that were successful each found their own way to weather the crisis, unsuccessful firms were remarkably alike in their inability to cope and in the mistakes they made. Combing through the wreckage, Thomas Stanton examines which financial firms survived the crisis and which ones failed. He analyzes how differences in governance, organization, and management between these firms led to their success or failure, and how government supervision and regulation failed to prevent the crisis. Based on interviews that the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission conducted with CEOs, risk officers, traders, and others at major financial firms, Stanton systematically outlines how successful firms such as JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and others used a multitude of approaches to distinguish themselves in operational competence and intelligent discipline, while unsuccessful firms such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Countrywide uniformly failed to prepare for low-probability, high-impact events.

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