Earlier this week, a spokesperson for former Treasury secretary Hank Paulson informed the Times that he was too busy writing his memoirs to give an interview about potential conflicts of interest he might have had while dealing with his former firm, Goldman Sachs. But, we remembered later, when Paulson made the deal with his publisher, Hachette’s Business Plus, he’d said he’d probably use a co-writer — a good idea, since not only has Paulson “never written a book before,” as he put it, he’s barely written at all: Paulson grew up on Goldman’s voice-mail culture and never even used e-mail while he was at the Treasury.
In fact, Daily Intel has confirmed that Paulson’s memoirs are being written by Michael Carroll, an award-winning financial journalist who until recently was the editor of Institutional Investor, a wonky written-for–Wall Street magazine that charges $456 a year per subscription, but, like most publications, has recently fallen on hard times.
Carroll — whose co-workers consistently describe him as hard as nails, highly intellectual, meticulous in his reporting, stubborn, dogged, and a perfectionist — also has a lot of experience with many of the ancient Goldman Sachs conspiracy theories, having made a splash in October 1994 with the first real story about the firm’s mysterious partnership process. The story, headlined “Inside Goldman’s College of Cardinals,” acknowledged the Vatican-like ritual and silence that surrounded the firm’s decision-making and kicked off a wave of speculation about the firm’s growing power. It positioned Carroll to know a lot about the later conflict between Hank Paulson and rival Jon Corzine that preceded Corzine’s departure from the firm; and led to a host of coverage and “gets” for the editor, such as a interview with former Goldman Sachs partner and Treasury secretary Robert Rubin. In the interview, Rubin recounts a conversation with Paulson:
“I said to [U.S. Treasury Secretary] Hank Paulson, ‘Once you’ve done this, you’ll never read a book or an article about the administration in the same way. You see it through different eyes.’”
Carroll is known as a talented wordsmith, a writer with a literary bent and a penchant for the more vivid portrayals of Wall Street’s personalities when they had the kind of swagger and importance that’s often missing from today’s armies of besuited bankers filing into Wal-Mart megabanks. He is often skeptical and more than a little cutting in his metaphors; in December 2007, as the credit crisis was settling in, he compared Wall Street’s refusal to bend to reality to the hubris of Norma Desmond, the fictional star of Sunset Boulevard. We attempted to contact him for this story, but like Paulson, Carroll doesn’t use e-mail. Wouldn’t matter, anyway: According to Paulson’s office, Carroll is busy writing and unavailable to comment.
UPDATE: Paulson’s editor at BusinessPlus, later told us that Carroll is “providing assistance” on the book but maintained that Carroll is not writing it. “Hank was a Phi Beta Kappa English major at Dartmouth,” Wolff told us. “He’s in front of his computer, writing his book.”
Earlier: Hank Paulson Is Too Busy to Address Rumors That Threaten His Reputation and the Reputation of His Former Company
Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson Has Developed a Deep Understanding of the Economic Crisis Since Leaving Administration
*Disclosure: Carroll offered this writer a job in 2005, but she declined.