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Resurrecting the Street: Overcoming the Greatest Operational Crisis in History By Jeff Ingber

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The events of 9/11 presented the financial industry with the greatest operational crisis in its history. Key officials were killed; others could not be located. Primary and backup sites were unavailable or inadequate. Massive amounts of critical data were lost, and there was a crushing inability to communicate, locate or verify information. It was not known for a time which firms could participate in the markets and to what degree, nor was it clear to what extent certain markets had been damaged and when they should reopen. Nor could the human impact of the 9/11 events be divorced from the business issues. Those grappling to restore the markets had to cope with their own feelings of anxiety, shock and loss, and to deal with a uniquely horrific blend of personal and professional difficulties. This book tells of the regeneration of the U.S. markets, day by day, immediately following 9/11, with a focus on the U.S. Government securities market. The bottom line is that 9/11 brought the most important financial market in the world – the one looked to by investors globally for safety in times of trouble – to the brink of paralysis. The crisis was ultimately resolved through the willpower and wisdom of groups of disparate individuals, accompanied by an unprecedented climate of cooperation among fierce competitors that embodied the American spirit at its finest.

Amazon Summary

I’d never been to New York until this past summer.  Just as Ingber describes, I looked across the water, wondering if I could swim across – if I had to.  Walking the streets, riding the subway, eating in a restaurant, my thoughts were often on 9/11and the resilient citizens who had to experience it.  
At the time of the tragedy, I did think briefly of the effect on business operations after the destruction.  My background is in finance; so, this book interested me.  I liked Ingber’s weaving of personal accounts – from both professional and personal views.  He describes some history too like the 1968 – 1971 Wednesday closing and shortened trading hours due to a backlog of transactions.  I was in downtown Chicago when the river flooded the business district.   He mentions that there are many decades of “Govie” business where no operational records exist.  Because he and others share an interest in preserving the operational history of debt instruments, such as U.S. Treasuries – the most widely held debt instruments in the world, this book may provide a historical reference for the financial world.  He includes stories from more than 100 interviews about the human input and sacrifice; the eye-witness accounts of people jumping from 90 stories to escape the “unbearable heat” reminded me of the terror and pain of that day.  The sleepless hours that operational experts spent to find, record, and balance the gargantuan amount of lost data shows the determination of America’s business.  As the author mentioned, the terrorists meant to attack our capitalist society; their target area included key people, data banks, financial firms, and government offices.
Ingber ends by stating that the financial collapse of 2008 has replaced the operational emergency of 9/11 in the minds of most Americans.  His timeline at the end of the book is helpful for novices like me.  This book isn’t for everyone.  Skim this book for the personal accounts and history of the financial markets – they will interest many people.  Spend more time reading to follow the intricacies of restarting (after the tragedy and unprecedented closing of) the U.S. securities markets.

Four Stars

*Reviewed by Colleen*

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This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.