Agoracom Blog

“Bailout Nation” Book Dropped by McGraw-Hill To Protect Its S&P Ratings Division From Damaging Analysis

Posted by AGORACOM at 3:46 AM on Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

The Wall Street credit-crisis “CYA” playbook continues to be run by those who do not want to accept their portion of the blame.  Specifically, ran this story titled Mcgraw Hill Drops Book Critical of S&P. What makes the story even more interesting is the fact that it was written by my friend Barry Ritholtz – who is frequently listed as one of the world’s top financial bloggers and often quoted right here on AGORACOM.

The book was so highly anticipated by Wall Street that a month away from publication, 22,000 copies had already been pre-sold.  Wow.

So why did McGraw Hill drop it? According to Portfolio, MH provided the following explanation:

McGraw Hill spokesman Steven Weiss this afternoon said the publisher dropped
the book because of a conflict with Ritholtz over editing, not because of his
criticism of S&P. “The material needed extensive corroboration across a range of
topics. We could not agree on unified approach with the author for resolving
the issues,” Weiss said. He denied that the publisher dropped the book because of what Ritholtz had written about S&P.

OK, anything is possible.  However, given the fact that Barry Ritholtz has both the smarts and the street cred that comes with the PYMWYMI (Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is) nature of bloggers, I side with him when he provides the following retort from his blog:

Really? You cannot verify these footnotes?

As you can see, the overwhelming majority of the footnotes come with URL
So I guess if you lack an internet connection or are unfamiliar with Google,
you might have trouble corroborating the contents of the book. But for everyone else
over the age of 6 years old who is possession of any IQ score better than 75, it really
should not be a problem to accomplish.

But to prove it even further, I challenge any of the McGraw Hill editors or
(or any of the editorial staff)
to take a polygraph/lie detector test
– at my expense.

If the poly proves anything I said was false or anything Mr Weiss said was true, I will
let them edit the book however they want, or kill it altogether and not publish anywhere

I’m sold because whenever I’ve had righteousness on my side in the past, I too have challenged people to polygraph tests at my expense. I severely doubt a blogger of Barry’s stature is going to put his reputation on the line at his expense.


McGraw Hill blew it.  Sure, they were in a tough position but they put themselves there when they approached Barry to write about the bailout / crisis in the first place.

Clearly, MH publisher Herb Schaffner didn’t see the connection from the outset.  By the time the lightbulb went on and they needed Barry to tone it down, Barry advised “Sorry, Herb, but I don’t do diplomacy.” Barry has 34,000 subscribers (not a typo) for a reason  – he tells it like it is.

At the end of the day, MH made a massive tactical error when it dropped the book.  In this Obama / Geithner / Stimulus package environment, Barry’s criticism of the S&P probably wouldn’t have got much media play.  As such, MH would have been better off simply publishing it as is and letting the S&P stuff blend in with other issues raised by Barry in the book.

Now, S&P has become the book and MH has become the story….. and Barry has an even bigger stage to speak from.  God help those guys.


2 Responses to ““Bailout Nation” Book Dropped by McGraw-Hill To Protect Its S&P Ratings Division From Damaging Analysis”

  1. AGORACOM says:

    They were taking pre-orders…22,000 of them were reported yesterday. Barry is going to have to find another publisher or go self-publishing. Either way, it is going to be a great read.


  2. Tony Simon says:

    Bailout Nation is advertised on Amazon but then it says, “This title has not yet been released.” What’s the story?