Hank Paulson

Before becoming US Treasury Secretary, Paulson worked for Goldman Sachs. When he left the top job at Goldman Sachs to become Treasury Secretary in 2006, his big concern was whether he’d have an impact. He ended up almost single-handedly running the country’s economic policy for the last year of the Bush Administration. During the crisis he constantly downplayed events until he ended up authorising taxpayer-funded bailouts that kept the banks afloat.

On September 19, 2008, Paulson called for the U.S. government to use hundreds of billions of Treasury dollars to help financial firms clean up nonperforming mortgages threatening the liquidity of those firms. Because of his leadership and public appearances on this issue, the press labeled these measures the “Paulson financial rescue plan” or simply the Paulson Plan.

The three main gripes against Paulson are that he was late to the party in battling the financial crisis, letting Lehman Brothers fail was a big mistake and the big bailout bill he pushed through Congress has been a wasteful mess.

But while Paulson believes the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the bailout of insurance giant AIG and other broad measures enacted at that time were the correct actions to take, he now says he regrets not communicating their importance more clearly. Mr Paulson now chairs the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago, which was founded in 2011 to support Chinese-US relations.

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