Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thank the Heavens for Hank Paulson's Wonderful Memory

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr. is out with his new book, On the Brink, where he details his version of events that occurred on Wall Street and Washington D.C.during the financial crisis while he was Treasury Secretary.

All that you really need to know about this fairy tale can be found in the front of the book in what is labeled as "Author's Notes". In this preface, Paulson tells us that he doesn't take notes and doesn't use email and his staff was frustrated because he didn't send out memos, but fortunately, he tells us, he has a very good memory.

He then goes on to say that most of what he did was by telephone, but that not all the calls were logged and that there are inaccuracies in the calls that were logged.

Getting back to his excellent memory, he then tells us that because the crisis period was hectic and stressful that there are many details he may have forgotten.

In the first chapter, he tells that he is a "free market" man, and then proceeds to tells us that when he worked in the Nixon Administration he proposed to Nixon that a value added tax be launched.

Fortunately for America, Nixon saw the dangers in a VAT. He told Paulson that once established such a tax would become a huge new source of revenue for the government, and fearing future Democratic control of such an instrument, Nixon went on to tell Paulson that he did not want to start the country down that road, much to the chagrin of "free market" Paulson.

Seemingly out of the blue, Paulson mentions in the book the resignation of Eliot Spitzer as governor of New York. Spitzer resigned after being caught using hookers. Paulson tells us that, while many on Wall Street were gleeful of the jam Spitzer found himself in, he was merely "shocked and saddened." So shocked and saddened, I guess, that he had to bring it up in his book about the financial crisis.

Paulson early in the book also reminds us just how tight the inner circle is. He tells us that one of the last Goldman Sachs conferences that he was involved with before leaving for Treasury took place in Chicago where the guest speakers were Warren Buffett and then-Senator Barack Obama.

As for the crisis, itself, he's sticking to the story that he saved the country.

1 comment:

  1. How many times did he use his trademark, plausible-deniability catch-phrase "I don't recall" in his book?