Slideshow Faces of the financial crisis: Where are they now? (Policymaker edition)

Published
  • July 30 2018, 12:07pm EDT
In the decade since the crisis, the D.C. movers and shakers at the center of the crisis — and the government’s effort to stabilize the financial system — all moved on to new positions, from private attorney to movie industry lobbyist to a gubernatorial candidate. Here's a look at what they're up to these days.

Hank Paulson

Serving as Treasury secretary under President George W. Bush, Paulson oversaw a crumbling economy as the mortgage meltdown gained momentum. The former Goldman Sachs chief executive was central to the decision to put Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship in September 2008 and he was a primary author of the controversial Troubled Asset Relief Program, a plan to buy troubled assets from banks to stabilize the system, which evolved into direct capital infusions. The bank bailout turned out to be one of the most significant moves of the crisis, helping to stabilize the system but fueling a wave of political populism that continues to impact the country.

Several years after leaving office in early 2009, Paulson went on to found the Paulson Institute, a U.S.-China relations think tank that focuses on economic growth and environmental sustainability. He serves as chairman of the group.

Tim Geithner

As president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2008, Geithner was part of the central crisis response team along with Paulson and then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. He worked with Treasury to engineer the quick government-backed sale of Bear Stearns to JPMorgan Chase, as well as the government's stabilization of AIG, and convened a famous meeting at the New York Fed to prod industry executives to develop a private-sector plan to save Lehman Brothers to avert its eventual collapse.

As Paulson's successor at Treasury under President Barack Obama, Geithner played a central role in the administration's efforts to stabilize and rebuild the financial system in the wake of the crisis. He was a key architect of the stress tests, which ultimately helped restore public confidence in the banking system. He also helped craft what would become the Dodd-Frank Act, Congress' primary response to the crisis. He stepped down from the position in 2013, following four years in office. He wrote a book on the crisis and later joined the private equity firm Warburg Pincus, where he serves as president.

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Ben Bernanke

Bernanke's background as an academic economist studying the Great Depression would come to serve him well as chairman of the Federal Reserve during the financial crash and its aftermath. He would lead the Fed in its many responses to the crisis, including the bailouts of Bear Stearns and American International Group, and the central bank's quantitative easing program, which involved buying vast quantities of government bonds to help stimulate the economy.

Bernanke is now a distinguished fellow in residence at the Brookings Institution, after leaving the Fed in early 2014. He also serves as a senior adviser to two investment firms, Pacific Investment Management Co. and Citadel. Like Geithner and others, he also wrote a book about the financial crisis.

Sheila Bair

Sheila Bair played a key role in the financial crisis as head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and at one point was listed as the No. 2 most powerful woman in the world behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During the crisis, she focused publicly on reassuring anxious consumers that their deposits were government guaranteed. Behind the scenes, she was an advocate for tougher regulation on the big banks, arguing that they should have faced restrictions for their role in the crisis. She was also influential in working with lawmakers on certain issues of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Since leaving office in 2011, Bair has been one of the most outspoken in arguing how things went wrong. She was president of Washington College in Chestertown, Md., from 2015 to 2017, and now serves as an adviser to a number of public companies and fintech startups.

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John Dugan

As the Comptroller of the Currency, Dugan, a Bush appointee, was another central player in helping shape the country's response to the crisis. He was often an ally of Tim Geithner, although he has also been criticized at times for his defense of the banking industry. Dugan oversaw the OCC from 2005 to 2010, before returning to the law firm Covington & Burling, where he had previously worked. He retired from the firm last fall and now sits on Citigroup's board.

John Reich and John Bowman

Reich was director of the Office of Thrift Supervision from August 2005 until February 2009, but endured heavy criticism for the agency’s record leading up to and during the crisis. Some of the most high-profile institutions to fail in the mortgage meltdown were thrifts, including Countrywide, IndyMac and Washington Mutual, the largest bank ever to be put in receivership. With the OTS facing scrutiny over allegations tied to the backdating of capital calculation, Bowman was appointed acting director of the agency in March 2009. The OTS was ultimately merged into the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency under the Dodd-Frank Act.

After leaving the OTS, Reich is said to have retired. Bowman later entered private practice and is now a partner at the Dinsmore law firm.

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Barney Frank and Chris Dodd

Dodd and Frank were the chairmen, respectively, of the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee. They were the two most pivotal figures in the congressional response to the crisis: the 2010 legislative overhaul of the financial regulatory system that bears the two lawmakers’ names.

Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, left the Senate not long after the passage of Dodd-Frank. In 2011, he was named the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, where he worked until late 2017. He is currently a senior counsel at the law firm of Arnold & Porter.

Frank remained in the House until January 2013. He now serves on the board of directors for Signature Bank in New York, and remains outspoken on financial services issues.

Robert Steel

Steel was the Treasury undersecretary of domestic finance up until July 2008, serving as a key lieutenant to Paulson and playing a significant role in the government’s deal with JPMorgan Chase to rescue Bear Stearns. He then left the government to take over for Ken Thompson as CEO of Wachovia, where he helped oversee the deteriorating bank’s sale to Wells Fargo.

In 2010, he was named deputy New York City mayor for economic development. He is now CEO of the global advisory and asset management firm Perella Weinberg Partners.

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Neel Kashkari

As assistant Treasury secretary of financial stability, Kashkari was Paulson’s point person on managing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program — the unprecedented, congressionally mandated bailout of the financial services industry.

After resigning from Treasury in 2009, Kashkari moved to a cabin in California, reportedly to “detox” from Washington. In late 2009, he became a managing director at Pimco, and in 2014 lost the California general gubernatorial election to incumbent Jerry Brown. Most recently, Kashkari has been the outspoken president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, where he has criticized Dodd-Frank as not being sufficient and called for breaking up the biggest banks.

Dan Mudd and Richard Syron

As head of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, respectively, Dan Mudd and Richard Syron were two of the most powerful figures in finance and Washington leading up to the crisis. Yet both Mudd, who had led Fannie since 2005, and Syron, who had run Freddie since 2003, were fired and replaced after the two government-sponsored enterprises were seized by the government and put into conservatorship in September 2008.

Since then, Mudd served for two and a half years, ending in early 2012, as CEO of Fortress Investment Group, a New York-based hedge fund. His resignation came shortly after the Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against him claiming that he misled investors about Fannie’s exposure to subprime mortgages. (Mudd denied wrongdoing.) That case was settled in 2016 after Fannie agreed to pay the government $100,000 on Mudd’s behalf. Mudd remains active in finance. He joined London-based Gore Street Capital in October 2014 as a member of its board of directors and is an adviser to and investor in SANDBOXX, a military media and technology company.

Syron, meanwhile, retired to Massachusetts after the crisis. Like Mudd, he settled with the SEC in 2015 over charges he and other executives misled investors about Freddie’s condition (Syron also denied wrongdoing). Syron paid $250,000 to the government and was banned from serving as a CEO for a year.