EXCERPT: Henry M. Paulson Jr.'s: 'On the Brink'

Henry Paulsons book "On the Brink."

In his new book, former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. describes the efforts of the elite in the politicial and finacial world in response to the 2008 financial crisis.

"On the Brink" is a memoir of Paulson's time in the center of the crisis. He recounts the key decisions that were made -- including controversial ones such as the bailout of AIG -- and details debating the situation with the top political and economic officials of the time.

Paulson also outlines policies he says will benefit the country in the future.

Read the excerpt below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.

VIDEO: Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson President Obama
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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Do they know it's coming, Hank?" President Bush asked me. "Mr. President," I said, "we're going to move quickly and take them by surprise. The first sound they'll hear is their heads hitting the floor."

It was Thursday morning, September 4, 2008, and we were in the Oval Office of the White House discussing the fate of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the troubled housing finance giants. For the good of the country, I had proposed that we seize control of the companies, fire their bosses, and prepare to provide up to $100 billion of capital support for each. If we did not act immediately, Fannie and Freddie would, I feared, take down the financial system, and the global economy, with them.

I'm a straightforward person. I like to be direct with people. But I knew that we had to ambush Fannie and Freddie. We could give them no room to maneuver. We couldn't very well go to Daniel Mudd at Fannie Mae or Richard Syron at Freddie Mac and say:

"Here's our idea for how to save you. Why don't we just take you over and throw you out of your jobs, and do it in a way that protects the taxpayer to the disadvantage of your shareholders?"

The news would leak, and they'd fight. They'd go to their many powerful friends on Capitol Hill or to the courts, and the resulting delays would cause panic in the markets. We'd trigger the very disaster we were trying to avoid.

I had come alone to the White House from an 8:00 a.m. meeting at Treasury with Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, who shared my concerns, and Jim Lockhart, head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the main regulator for Fannie and Freddie. Many of our staffers had been up all night -- we had all been putting in 18-hour days during the summer and through the preceding Labor Day holiday weekend -- to hammer out the language and documents that would allow us to make the move. We weren't quite there yet, but it was time to get the president's official approval. We wanted to place Fannie and Freddie into conservatorship over the weekend and make sure that everything was wrapped up before the Asian markets opened Sunday night.

The mood was somber as I laid out our plans to the president and his top advisers, who included White House chief of staff Josh Bolten; deputy chief of staff Joel Kaplan; Ed Lazear, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers; Keith Hennessey, director of the National Economic Council (NEC); and Jim Nussle, director of the Offi ce of Management and Budget. The night before, Alaska governor Sarah Palin had electrified the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her speech accepting the nomination as the party's vice presidential candidate, but there was no mention of that in the Oval Office. St. Paul might as well have been on another planet.

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