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151008 - Henry Merritt "Hank" Paulson Jr. (born
March 28, 1946) is the United States Treasury Secretary and member of
the International Monetary Fund Board of Governors. He previously served
as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs.
Born in Palm Beach, Florida, to Marianna Gallaeur and Henry Merritt
Paulson, a wholesale jeweler, he was raised in Barrington Hills,
Illinois. He was raised as a Christian Scientist. Paulson attained the
rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.
A star athlete at Barrington High School, Paulson was a champion
wrestler and stand out football player, graduating in 1964. Paulson
received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Dartmouth College in 1968;
at Dartmouth he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Alpha Epsilon
and he was an All Ivy, All East, and honorable mention All American as
an offensive lineman.
He met his wife Wendy during his senior year. The couple have two adult
children, Henry Merritt III and Amanda Clark, and became grandparents in
June 2007. They maintain homes in Washington, DC and Barrington Hills,
In 1970 Paulson received a Master of Business Administration degree from
Harvard Business School.
Paulson was Staff Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense at The
Pentagon from 1970 to 1972. He then worked for the administration of
U.S. President Richard Nixon, serving as assistant to John Ehrlichman
from 1972 to 1973, during the events of the Watergate scandal for which
Ehrlichman was convicted to a prison sentence.
He joined Goldman Sachs in 1974, working in the firm's Chicago office
for Manmeet Taneja. He became a partner in 1982. From 1983 until 1988,
Paulson led the Investment Banking group for the Midwest Region, and
became managing partner of the Chicago office in 1988. From 1990 to
November 1994, he was co-head of Investment Banking, then, Chief
Operating Officer from December 1994 to June 1998; eventually succeeding
Jon Corzine (now Governor of New Jersey) as its chief executive. His
compensation package, according to reports, was US$37 million in 2005,
and US$16.4 million projected for 2006. His net worth has been estimated
at over US$700 million. Paulson has personally built close relations
with China during his career. In July 2008 it was reported by The Daily
Telegraph that: "Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has intimate relations
with the Chinese elite, dating from his days at Goldman Sachs when he
visited the country more than 70 times."
In 2004, at the request of the major Wall Street investment houses,
including Goldman Sachs, then headed by Paulson, the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission agreed unanimously to release the major investment
houses from the net capital rule, the requirement that their brokerages
hold reserve capital that limited their leverage and risk exposure. The
complaint that was put forth by the investment banks was of increasingly
onerous regulatory requirements -- in this case, not U.S. regulator
oversight, but European Union regulation of the foreign operations of US
investment groups. In the immediate lead-up to the decision, EU
regulators also acceded to US pressure, and agreed not to scrutinize
foreign firms' reserve holdings if the SEC agreed to do so instead. The
1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, however, put the parent holding company of
each of the big American brokerages beyond SEC oversight. In order for
the agreement to go ahead, the investment banks lobbied for a decision
that would allow "voluntary" inspection of their parent and subsidiary
holdings by the SEC.
During this repeal of the net capital rule, SEC Chairman William H.
Donaldson agreed to the establishment of a risk management office that
would monitor signs of future problems. This office was eventually
dismantled by Chairman Christopher Cox, after discussions with Paulson.
According to the New York Times, "While other financial regulatory
agencies criticized a blueprint by Mr. Paulson, the [new] Treasury
secretary, that proposed to reduce their stature — and that of the S.E.C.
— Mr. Cox did not challenge the plan, leaving it to three former
Democratic and Republican commission chairmen to complain that the
blueprint would neuter the agency."
In late September 2008, Chairman Cox and the other Commissioners agreed
to end the 2004 program of voluntary regulation.
Paulson was nominated by U.S. President George W. Bush to succeed John
Snow as the Treasury Secretary on May 30, 2006. On June 28, 2006, he was
confirmed by the United States Senate to serve in the position.
Paulson was officially sworn in at a ceremony held at the Treasury
Department on the morning of July 10, 2006.
Paulson's three immediate predecessors as CEO of Goldman Sachs — Jon
Corzine, Stephen Friedman, and Robert Rubin — each left the company to
serve in government: Corzine as a U.S. Senator (later Governor of New
Jersey), Friedman as chairman of the National Economic Council (later
chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board) under
President George W. Bush, and Rubin as both chairman of the NEC and
later Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton.
Paulson has quickly distinguished himself from his two predecessors in
the Bush administration by formally identifying the wide gap between the
richest and poorest Americans as an issue on his list of the country's
four major long-term economic issues to be addressed, highlighting the
issue in one of his first public appearances as Secretary of Treasury.
Paulson has conceded that chances were slim for agreeing on a method to
reform Social Security financing, but said he would keep trying to find
bipartisan support for it.
He also helped to create the Hope Now Alliance to help struggling
homeowners during the subprime mortgage crisis
In Spring 2007, Secretary Paulson told an audience at the Shanghai
Futures Exchange that "An open, competitive, and liberalized financial
market can effectively allocate scarce resources in a manner that
promotes stability and prosperity far better than governmental
In August 2007, Secretary Paulson explained that U.S. subprime mortgage
fallout remained largely contained due to the strongest global economy
On July 20, 2008, after the failure of Indymac Bank, Paulson reassured
the public by saying, “it's a safe banking system, a sound banking
system. Our regulators are on top of it. This is a very manageable
On August 10, 2008, Secretary Paulson told NBC’s Meet the Press that he
had no plans to inject any capital into Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. On
September 7, 2008, both
Fannie Mae y Freddie Mac
went into conservatorship.
Paulson was the designated leader of the Bush administration's efforts
in 2008 to nationalize the cost of bad loans made by financial
Through unprecedented intervention by the U.S. Treasury, Paulson led
government efforts to avoid a severe economic slowdown. He pushed
through the conservatorship of government agency mortgage giants Fannie
Mae and Freddie Mac. Working with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke,
he influenced the decision to create a credit facility (bridge loan &
warrants) of US$85 billion to American International Group so it would
avoid filing bankruptcy.
In late September 2008, Paulson, along with Ben Bernanke and Christopher
Cox, led the effort to help financial firms by agreeing to use US$700
billion dollars to purchase bad debt they had incurred. He incurred
criticism from economists for initially refusing to consider injecting
large amounts of cash into financial institutions directly by purchasing
stock, an option which other countries in similar circumstances have
pursued. This was the option favored by Federal Reserve Chairman
Bernanke, and the one many economists expect will eventually be followed.
On September 19, 2008, Paulson called for the U.S. government to use
hundreds of billions of Treasury dollars to help financial firms cleanup
nonperforming mortgages that threaten the liquidity of those firms. Due
to his leadership and public appearances on this issue, the press
labeled these measures the "Paulson financial rescue plan" or simply the
With the passage of H.R. 1424, he became the manager of the United
States Emergency Economic Stabilization fund.
Some have suggested Paulson's plan may potentially have some conflicts
of interest, since Paulson is the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, a firm
that may benefit from the plan. Paulson has no direct financial interest
in Goldman, however, since he sold his entire stake in the firm prior to
becoming Treasury Secretary, pursuant to ethics law. The proposed bill
would give the United States Treasury Secretary unprecedented powers
over the economic and financial life of the U.S.. Section 8 of Paulson’s
plan states: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of
this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may
not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”
Paulson has been described as an avid nature lover. He has been a member
of The Nature Conservancy for decades and was the organization's board
chairman and co-chair of its Asia-Pacific Council. In that capacity,
Paulson worked with former President of the People's Republic of China
Jiang Zemin to preserve the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan province.
Paulson is also on the Board of Directors of the Peregrine Fund; was the
founding Chairman of the Advisory Board of the School of Economics and
Management of Tsinghua University in Beijing; and, previously served as
chairman of the influential trade group, the Financial Services Forum.
Notable among the members of Bush's cabinet, Paulson has said he is a
strong believer in the effect of human activity on global warming and
advocates immediate action to decrease this effect.
As an environmental leader and philanthropist, Paulson while at Goldman
Sachs, oversaw the corporate donation of 680,000 forested acres on the
Chilean side of Tierra del Fuego, which led to criticisms from Goldman
shareholder groups . He further donated US$100 million of assets from
his wealth to conservancy causes. He pledged his entire fortune for the
same purpose at death. He has also been considered someone who can
influence world and business leaders to think beyond the bottom line.