Former US Treasury secretaries Henry M. Paulson Jr. and Robert E. Rubin, who each fended off financial calamities over the past two decades, warned Tuesday that urgent political action is needed on both sides of the Atlantic to prevent a new global meltdown.
“We have a cliff coming,” said Rubin, who served as Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. “The idea is to avoid the cliff.”
“Under the best of circumstances, this will drag on for a long time, and there will be a lot of strains,” said Paulson, who had the job under President George W. Bush. “When markets collide with politics, markets will win. Markets will have the last word.”
The two men, keynote speakers at the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s annual convention in Boston, engaged in an hourlong discussion before several thousand life sciences executives. It was moderated by BIO’s chief executive, James Greenwood, an ex-Pennsylvania congressman.
While the tone was relaxed and collegial, Paulson and Rubin were pessimistic about the European debt crisis and its potential to drag down the still fragile US economy.
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