It was February 2008, and Henry M. Paulson Jr., a prince of Wall Street turned secretary of the Treasury, was reflecting on his biggest achievement to date: a $168 billion economic-stimulus package that had passed Congress four days earlier after swift, bipartisan prog ress through both houses. In light of all the later twists and turns that the global financial system and the national economy took, this measure would come to seem quaint and fainthearted. But at the time, it was a very big deal indeed, and Paulson felt justifiably proud..
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