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From Financial Crisis to Recovery (Collection) by Mark Zandi

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7. Fixing the Financial Plumbing

The Treasury Department building, next door to the White House in the middle of Washington DC, projects all that the U.S. financial system would like to be: solid, confident, well appointed but not especially ornate. It is fitting that a statue of Alexander Hamilton stands watch outside. The first U.S. Treasury Secretary knew that his young nation’s economic success depended on repaying the debts it had run up to finance the Revolutionary War.

When I visited the Treasury in spring 2010, the financial system seemed to be falling well short of the aspirations embodied in that building. I was having lunch with Michael Barr, the Assistant Treasury Secretary for Financial Institutions, who was working feverishly on ...

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