Co-Chair, Aspen Economic Strategy Group
Chairman, Paulson Institute
HANK PAULSON is executive chairman of TPG Rise Climate, the climate investing platform of the global private equity firm TPG. He is also the founder and chairman of the Paulson Institute, which aims to foster a more balanced and productive US-China relationship focusing at the intersection of green finance, conservation, and economics. Paulson is the co-chair of the Aspen Economic Strategy Group, and co-chair of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum Advisory Board. Paulson served as the 74th Secretary of the Treasury under President George W. Bush. Prior to that, he had a thirty-two year career at Goldman Sachs, ultimately serving as chairman and chief executive officer. A lifelong conservationist, Paulson was Chairman of The Nature Conservancy Board of Directors and, prior to that, founded and co-chaired the organization’s Asia-Pacific Council. He also founded and co-chaired the Latin American Conservation Council. In addition, he co-chaired the Risky Business Project, a non-partisan initiative that quantified and publicized the economic risks of climate change in the United States. Paulson is the author of the best sellers On the Brink and Dealing with China. He is also the co-author of two books with Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner, First Responders and Firefighting. Paulson graduated from Dartmouth College and received an M.B.A. from Harvard University.
President Biden deserves credit for his actions to date on climate change. In rejoining the Paris agreement, directing new energy standards, pushing for bold congressional action, convening world leaders and announcing dramatic emissions reduction targets, he is showing that American climate leadership is back. But there is one major climate policy arena where the United States needs to take a bold step forward: carbon pricing.
AESG co-chairs Hank Paulson and Erskine Bowles introduce the group's 2020 policy volume. The American economy is in the midst of a wrenching crisis, one caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, intensified by the worst social unrest in a generation, and aggravated further by a series of climate-driven natural disasters.
American capitalism is at a serious inflection point. Many Americans, including the two of us, are alarmed by enormous levels of inequality and by declining economic mobility. We are concerned that in many cases American markets are no longer the most competitive in the world. And, we worry that our country’s long-term economic strength will slowly deteriorate because of an unsustainable fiscal trajectory that leaves future generations worse off.
The American economic system has always been the foundation of our national strength. But this foundation is showing cracks—from high levels of income inequality, declining economic mobility, and persistent economic insecurity among low- and middle-income Americans.
The American economy is stronger today than it has been in many years. At the time of this writing, jobs are plentiful and the country's economic expansion is the second-longest on record. But our nation's economic performance has not been even, and the prosperity is not as widespread as it once was.
Many Americans are being left behind by today’s modern, global economy, and they are justifiably angry about it. Growing numbers of people feel our economic and political systems are rigged against them. And it’s no wonder why.