@tinyrevolution A career-long ambition that so far as eluded him.
— billmon (@billmon1) August 28, 2013
Andrew Ross Sorkin, professional NYT courtier to the One Percent, softballs former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who has a book to sell:
Five Years After TARP, Misgivings on Bonuses
“There was such a total lack of awareness from the firms that paid big bonuses during this extraordinary time.”
That is what Henry M. Paulson Jr., former Treasury secretary, said last week. We were discussing the 2008 financial crisis in light of the approaching five-year anniversary of those white-knuckled days, when Lehman Brothers collapsed and the government stepped in to bail out the American International Group and then the banking system….
Five years on, Mr. Paulson, assessing the success of a bailout program that clearly helped stabilize the economy, said that the bonuses that the banks paid after the bailouts — a record $140 billion in 2009 — were a primary reason for the public outrage over the program he worked so hard to persuade Congress to pass and the country to support.
“To say I was disappointed is an understatement,” he said. “My view has nothing to do with legality and everything to do with what was right, and everything to do with just a colossal lack of self-awareness as to how they were viewed by the American public.”…
Asked why he held his tongue until now about his misgivings on the way Wall Street paid bonuses after the crisis, Mr. Paulson, who was formerly the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, said he didn’t want to be “piling on.”
Banking is “not only a very honorable profession,” he said, “it’s a very necessary profession.”
He said the hardest part of the bailouts for him was in the disconnect between the bailouts’ ugly image with the public and his faith that the bailouts would help keep the economy from collapsing.
“I understood that people were angry,” Mr. Paulson said. “They wanted to hear that those that made the mistakes were going to be held responsible. Then on the other side was stability. It’s hard to punish and save the banks at the same time.” He paused for a moment. “I was much more concerned with stability.”
If only we peons understood what a demanding, thankless task it is to continually apologize for our lack of appreciation!