Tim Geithner may be the current Treasury Secretary in the hot seat, but not so long ago it was Hank Paulson who drew fire for mishandling the crisis. Now the Wall Street-er is back with a new tell-all, On the Brink, excerpted
twice in The Wall Street Journal. It's a good bet that business and econ
bloggers will be dissecting the book shortly. Here are the highlights
of the Journal's excerpts:
Michael Corkery pulls out highlights from Paulson's hit list, including Palin, McCain, and Dick Fuld. Paulson reportedly takes aim at Palin for calling him "Hank" without invitation. "Now everyone calls me Hank...but for some reason the way she said it over the phone like that, even though we'd never met, rubbed me the wrong way."
Breathless Negotiations Before Lehman's Collapse
Paulson writes of Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis's report that "after closer inspection his people now believed that Lehman's assets were in even worse shape than they had thought the previous evening." He also recalls Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack wondering why the government couldn't deal with Lehman the way it had with Bear Stearns. Paulson says Geithner "quickly dismissed the possibility ... He made clear that the Fed could not lend against Lehman's dubious assets." Nor would the British government allow Barclays to purchase the shaky enterprise, he writes. "[Alistair Darling] offered no specifics, other than to say that we were asking the British government to take on too big a risk, and he was not willing to have us unload our problems on the British taxpayer." Responded Paulson, apparently, "the British screwed us."
Anticipating another sleep-deprived night, I arrived back at the hotel exhausted. I went into the bathroom of my room and pulled out a bottle of sleeping pills I'd been given in Washington. As a Christian Scientist, I don't take medication, but that night I desperately needed rest.
I stood under the harsh bathroom lights, staring at the small pill in the palm of my hand. Then I flushed it--and the contents of the entire bottle--down the toilet. I decided I would rely on prayer, placing my trust in a Higher Power.
All weekend I'd been wearing my crisis armor, but now I felt my guard slipping. I knew I had to call my wife, but I didn't want to do it from the landline in my office because other people were there.The excerpt closes with prayer and Paulson's wife quoting from the Second Book of Timothy.