What did then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson think of the big bonuses banks paid out circa the financial crisis? While he didn't say anything at the time, apparently the only thing standing between said banks and HP's fists was the fact that Paulson was able to successfully talk himself out of going down there* and showing everyone how he earned the nickname "Dirty Thunder" back at Dartmouth. After holding his tongue for five years, Paulson finally decided to open up and tell Andrew Ross Sorkin how he really feels.
Five years on, Mr. Paulson, assessing the success of a bailout program that clearly helped stabilize the economy, said that the bonuses that the banks paid after the bailouts — a record $140 billion in 2009 — were a primary reason for the public outrage over the program he worked so hard to persuade Congress to pass and the country to support. “To say I was disappointed is an understatement,” he said. “My view has nothing to do with legality and everything to do with what was right, and everything to do with just a colossal lack of self-awareness as to how they were viewed by the American public.” [...] Asked why he held his tongue until now about his misgivings on the way Wall Street paid bonuses after the crisis, Mr. Paulson, who was formerly the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, said he didn’t want to be “piling on.” Banking is “not only a very honorable profession,” he said, “it’s a very necessary profession.”
Five Years After TARP, Misgivings on Bonuses [Dealbook]
*By standing in front of the mirror and saying "Hold me back, Paulson, hold me back. You're better than this. They're not worth it!"