Hoover Institution Hosts Visit by Henry Paulson, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Henry Paulson (right) joined Condoleezza Rice
Henry Paulson (right) joined Condoleezza Rice

Henry Paulson joined Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state, in a conversation about the global financial crisis that emerged during his tenure as secretary of the U.S. Treasury at the Hoover Institution on Tuesday, March 23. Paulson recently authored a book on the subject titled On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System.

In her introduction of Paulson, Rice, the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution and professor of political science at Stanford University, noted that he had found himself in a maelstrom. Rice said she believed that it was fortunate for Paulson to be on hand, as “no one was better placed to guide us through the very difficult times.”

Paulson said that he spoke with President George W. Bush when he first went to Washington, warning him that there would be an economic crisis. Although his warning was based on his business knowledge and experience that these events are cyclical, he couldn’t pinpoint what would be the exact cause. Despite his caution, Paulson said that the crisis, “when it hit, it was much worse and lasted longer” than he expected.

Paulson, who served under President Bush as the 74th Secretary of the Treasury from June 2006 until January 2009, discussed his actions in dealing with one of the most severe global financial crises in history. He led the audience behind the scenes into the fast-paced and pressure-filled decisions being made to save the financial system from collapse. Of the policies that were developed during the crisis, Paulson said he believes that “our policies were the right ones that worked.”

On the Brink is Paulson’s first-person account of the financial crisis, which details the key decisions made in quick succession to avert a worldwide breakdown of the financial system.

Paulson met earlier in the day with Hoover fellows as the guest of honor at a roundtable discussion.