Henry Paulson, Jr.
A year after he took office, the U.S. faced a growing credit crunch. Toward the end of 2007, Paulson began working with the mortgage industry to adopt a temporary interest rate freeze for some of the millions of homeowners who had bought houses with subprime loans and faced skyrocketing increases in their monthly payments. As a recession loomed in January of 2008, Paulson led the government's drive for a $145 billion package of tax cuts and incentives to spur the economy.
In March 2008, he helped engineer a government-backed takeover of Bear Stearns by JPMorgan Chase at a bargain price, with the Fed shielding JPMorgan from most of the risk of Bear's troubled assets. He pushed a plan to safeguard Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that led to the government seizing the two entities to prevent them from failing. He proposed the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
Paulson came under attack from Republicans and Democrats in Congress over the government's role in Bank of America's purchase of Merrill Lynch in September 2008, in the midst of a credit crisis. At a July 2009 hearing, some Democrats accused him of covering up the extent of Merrill's losses and the cost to taxpayers, while some Republicans wondered whether Paulson and Ben Bernanke had improperly pressured BofA's then-chairman Kenneth Lewis into going through with the deal.
Before coming to Treasury, Paulson was chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs. He joined Goldman Sachs in 1974 in the Chicago Office and became a partner in 1982. From 1983 until 1988, Paulson headed up Investment Banking Services for the Midwest Region and became managing partner of the Chicago Office in 1988. In 1990, he was named co-head of the firm's investment banking division, and in 1994 he rose to the position of president and chief operating officer. In 1998, he was named co-senior partner, and with the firm's public offering in 1999, became chairman and CEO.
Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, Paulson was a member of the White House Domestic Council, serving as staff assistant to the president from 1972 to 1973, and as staff assistant to the assistant secretary of defense at the Pentagon from 1970 to 1972.
Paulson graduated from Dartmouth in 1968, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and All Ivy, All East, and honorable mention All American for football. He received an MBA from Harvard in 1970.