“Could free markets have sorted out the mess without extraordinary government action? Yes, but only by destroying the remains of the financial system and possibly putting tens of millions of people out of work. Despite virulent public opposition to the Bush bailouts, society would not have tolerated the price that a sudden free-market correction of decades of financial excess would have exacted. The consequences of standing by while the markets did their work, correcting their own and government’s mistakes, would have been disastrous.”

“The administration’s response may have staved off depression, though that outcome is not assured. But the government has severely damaged four elements upon which free markets and the future well-being of the nation depend: prices, disclosure, failure, and fairness. Lawmakers and regulators have harmed the faith of global investors and regular citizens alike in American free markets- a faith essential to growth and progress. President Obama has made the problems worse.”

From After the Fall:  Saving Capitalism from Wall Street- and Washington by Nicloe Gelinas

If you have to read only one book about the recent financial  fiasco, this is it.