America avoided an apocalyptic 'economic catastrophe': Hank Paulson

A decade after the 2008 financial crisis, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson told FOX Business Americans have no inkling of just how close the nation came to financial Armageddon.

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“I think we can look back on it,” Paulson said Tuesday during an exclusive interview with Maria Bartiromo. “And while recognizing how difficult it's been for so many Americans, recognize it could have been far worse, because we were very close -- very, very close -- to a real economic catastrophe that could have rivaled the Great Depression.”

Paulson, who led the U.S. Treasury from 2006 to 2009, said the crisis really began in August 2007, and had been “grinding on for a long time” before investment bank Bear Stearns collapsed in March 2008.

“I would say that there were many, many tense moments that I underestimated the extent of what we’re dealing with, really every step of the way right up until we got the TARP authorities from Congress,” he said.