Paulson rules out staying on at Treasury

WASHINGTON - Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson believes the US housing market will remain in a slump through the rest of the year, but does not intend to stay on to help the next president cope with the crisis.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sun 10 Aug 2008, 9:11 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:52 AM

In an interview with NBC News airing Sunday from Beijing, Paulson said he did not plan to inject public money into two troubled US mortgage giants, and laid out the case for new regulation to keep capital markets under control.

‘And whoever the next candidate is, whether it's John McCain or Barack Obama, the next president is, I will do everything I can to make for a smooth transition, to work closely with my successor in Treasury,’ he said.

There has been media speculation that the Republican McCain or even his Democratic rival Obama could ask Paulson to stay on to help unwind the housing crisis buffeting US consumers and Wall Street.

‘But I'm focused on getting everything done I can get done between now and January 19th,’ the former Goldman Sachs boss said, referring to the last full day of President George W. Bush's administration.

‘I'm going to do everything I can to step up to any problems that are going to face the country, but again, I look forward to doing other things, you know, next year.’

Paulson reaffirmed that ‘I believe it is going to take us well beyond the end of the year to work through all of the housing problems.’

The Treasury chief again defended a government lifeline thrown to the mortgage finance giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which together account for about 70 percent of all US home loans.

Plunging share values and shocking losses at Freddie Mac have raised new questions about the firms' solvency, but Paulson said he had no plans to tap his new authority to buy equity in the companies to boost their capital.

‘Well, we have no plans to insert money in either of those institutions,’ he told NBC.

‘I think it was very important that we get these temporary backup facilities, because Fannie and Freddie are important to our capital markets broadly,’ he said.

Paulson said further regulation was needed to cope with the daunting complexity of modern investment practices on Wall Street.

‘We have a regulatory system that is very outdated. It was put in place many years ago,’ he said, calling for a legal revamp ‘across the board.’

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