Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
On the Brink
Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse
of the Global Financial System
As I mentioned yesterday, I saw The Honorable Henry Paulson, Jr., former Secretary of the Treasury, as a guest at the Pershing Insite 2010 conference at The Westin, Diplomat in Hollywood. My purpose in attending the conference was to see him speak, and I ended up receiving his signed book in my junket package much to my surprise.
I don't ever get political on my blog, or share my work life too much, as this is my creative corner to actually utilize my magazine journalism degree a little. But I do work in the financial world with my own tv at my desk tuned in to specifically watch the stock market all day. It can be super stressful and very exciting all at once, especially during the past few years. Despite the craziness and financial turmoil I've been fortunate enough to maintain my job. I've learned quite a bit about different strategies in investing, and I've even done extremely well in a few of the CNBC Portfolio challanges ranging in the top 1% of hundreds of thousands of participants, which is something to gloat about being in a male driven industry, which is not my area of expertise, nor do I have a CFA as many of them do.
Getting back to Hank Paulson though, as a former big wig at Goldman Sachs, he was asked to be the Secretary of the Treasury three times, and took up the title of Secretary of Treasury in 2006 under Bush's administration. He was forced to sell his stock in Goldman at the time, and did not have to pay taxes on his large gains, his timing couldn't have been better, which draws scrutiny from many people.
For those who don't know much about why he was a big deal the past years, as I sure wouldn't have if my eyes weren't glued to business television, he was basically responsible for the TARP program (or bailing out many of the large financial institutions).
The 60 minutes style on-stage interview was a personal interview about why he did what he did, how he didn't really want to, but felt it was necessary to avoid another Great Depression. He explained that Lehman was like the 'weakest deer in the herd' and although Bear Stearns didn't have nearly enough assests as Lehman, they had a better business and those two reasons were why JP Morgan was able come to it's rescue--sort of.
When asked his views of where we are today in stage of recovery, he replied:
"We're underway, not quickly... we've got some serious problems with unemployment, and taxing isn't the way to deal with things. The fiscal deficit looks worse than it is. The TARP money is going to come back."
Some of the economic challenges currently are that the tax relief hasn't quite helped with foreclosures, it's hard to create a program that works for people not to be able to walk away from their mortgage. He believes Obama will need to push international trade, especially with China, because if the U.S. doesn't no one else will. He believes if China does well economically, so will the U.S. "China's success is our success."
Paulson's review of his job as Secretary of Treasury... he believes he was "uniquely suited for the job because he was decisive," as he stressed twice, and although it was a "miserable job he was glad he did it, and glad it is over." At the time, he had to act fast, and didn't have time to be scared, he had to be decisive and act quick in order to prevent the alternative of a great despression. He said "the hardest thing was after I left for taking a beating on things I knew what was right to do, and was interrogated for it afterwards."
If you are interested in more of the story, there is movie about Lehman Brothers and Henry Paulson on tonight on CNBC at 9:00PM entitled The Last Days of Lehman.
(If you finished reading this, thanks, for letting me show a little of my financial journalism writing.)
Have a Great Weekend!