In a small way, you have to sort of feel sorry for Hank Paulson. (Hey, we said "in a small way, so just back off, 'kay?) Whatever course he took, once he took money from Congress, he was screwed. Without a doubt multiple histories (some revisionist, some not so much) about the "Paulson days" will continue to emerge as time passes. Already the image of a "reluctant socialist" is emerging, to the extent we did not already have that visage in our memories of the Secretary. The Wall Street Journal highlights one such today:
Mr. Swagel, in a 50-page essay to be presented Friday at the Brookings (Institution) Panel on Economic Activity, said Mr. Paulson initially saw having "the government involved in ownership of banks" as a "fundamentally bad idea," and that's why he said as much to Congress when he sought the money. He changed his mind later, and the Treasury decided to devote the money to buying bank shares.
Readers will recall that the notion of giving Paulson a "blank check" was, at the time, a revolting one. Today it seems obvious that the Treasury should have nearly limitless powers in its pursuit of social(ist) utility. Who is it that writes history again?
Paulson Expected Criticism for Changing Course on TARP [The Wall Street Journal]