Monday, September 7, 2009

Hank Paulson

During the 2008 portion of the financial crisis, I really came to appreciate the Hank Paulson story. He's an old-fashioned captain of industry who would've fit perfectly in the Republican elite before they went Fox News crazy. I wouldn't want him writing labor law or setting capital gains taxes, but he accepts that humans are causing global warming and has donated over $100 million to the Nature Conservancy.

This guy becomes Treasury Secretary, the financial crisis hits, and he has to save the world. Who's going to work constructively with him to keep the credit markets from freezing over, causing tens of millions of people to not get paid because their paycheck is financially downstream from someone who can't get a loan? Not his own Republican Party. It's a gay man from Massachusetts and a liberal woman from San Francisco. So he works with them and discovers that they're actually reasonable people, whereas the House Republicans are totally insane.

So I was interested in reading the Todd Purdum Vanity Fair piece on Paulson. Unfortunately, it wasn't especially rich in juicy details about the most exciting parts of the story -- the parts where Paulson has to get the bailout through Congress. But you get occasional interesting bits like wise old Barney Frank explaining to him how the world works:
There was such outrage among the public at the idea of a bailout for Wall Street—with calls running 60 to 1 against—that on September 29 the House Republicans succeeded in initially defeating the bill. Paulson and administration officials were shocked, though Barney Frank read the situation correctly, as Paulson recalled: “He said, ‘Well, sometimes, you know, kids have got to run away from home and be hungry before they come back.’ ” Four days later, the runaways came home, and a barely revised version of the program passed.
He's got a book coming out soon, and maybe there'll be some good stuff in there.

1 comment:

Uncle Billy, Mental Widget said...

Maybe he donated $100M to the Nature Conservancy like this guy donated to the WWF?

"In 1988, Prince Bernhard and Princess Juliana sold two paintings from their personal collection to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund. The paintings sold for GBP700 000, which was deposited in a Swiss WWF bank account. In 1989, however, Charles de Haes, director-general of the WWF, transferred GBP500 000 back to Bernhard, for what De Haes called a private project. In 1991, newspapers reported what this private project was: Prince Bernhard had hired mercenaries - mostly British - to fight against poachers in nature reserves. The paramilitary group infiltrated organisations profiting from illegal trade in ivory in order to arrest them.
This 'Project Lock', as it was called, seemed to have backfired enormously, however. The "private army" of Bernhard had not only infiltrated in the illegal trade, they were also participating in it. To make things worse, Irish reporter Kevin Dowling discovered that the South African army was also involved in the trade, hinting at connections between the army of Bernhard and the WWF and the struggle for maintaining apartheid. Moreover, he claimed members of the South African run counterinsurgency unit Koevoet (Afrikaans/Dutch for "crowbar"), were trained under Project Lock.
In 1995, Nelson Mandela called upon the Kumleben Commission to investigate, among other things, the role of the WWF in apartheid South Africa. In the report that followed, it was suggested that mercenaries from Project Lock had planned assassinations of ANC members and that mercenaries had been running training camps in the wildlife reserves, training fighters from the anti-communist groups UNITA and Renamo. Although Prince Bernhard was never accused of any crime in its context, the Project Lock scandal dealt another damaging blow to the Prince's name."