People tend to have strong opinions about Henry “Hank” Paulson. Depending on your point of view, he either saved the U.S. economy as we know it or allowed it to be brought to its knees in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Time Magazine hedged its bets. It called Paulson one of the "25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis,” but said his response amounted to the only path out.
Paulson joined Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a conversation at Town Hall Seattle on June 25.
Proponents of bailing out homeowners instead of bankers protested outside the event. We have interviews with Seattleites Josh Farris and Jean Barton at the end of this podcast.
Paulson worked for the Nixon administration in the 1970s before joining banking giant Goldman Sachs. He went on to become its CEO in 1999. In 2006 he was namedU.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Paulson stayed on as Secretary while the financial crisis raged and into the first years of the Obama administration.
In 2011 he founded the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago. Its mission is to support international engagement and sustainable economic and environmental policies. The institute has a special focus on the relationship between the U.S. and China.
Though his introduction to China relations came by accident, Paulson became a dedicated ambassador and change agent. His efforts to open up China to private enterprise began in his early days at Goldman Sachs. When he was Treasury Secretary he created the Strategic Economic Dialogue, a framework for economic discussion and cooperation between the two superpowers.
Paulson’s new book is “Dealing With China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower.” In it he addresses China’s economic strengths and weaknesses. He explores ways the U.S. can do business in China and influence its government and environmental impact. Paulson argues that the climate change crisis is potentially worse than the 2008 financial crisis because it threatens “the way of life as we know it on our planet.”
The event was presented by Town Hall, University Book Store, and the Washington State China Relations Council as part of the Civics series. Thanks to Anna Tatistcheff for our recording.