On the U.S. economy, he said it's incredible how much growth there's been while deleveraging.
"The capital program we designed to get out [of the crisis] and put capital into hundreds of banks very, very quickly and recapitalized the U.S. financial system, is a huge success," Paulson reflected. "That money has come back, all that, plus $32 billion."
"I am a believer in the Ben Bernanke stimulus programs [that followed]," he continued, "in the sense that I think it's remarkable, even though we have low growth, this economy has been growing at 2 percent since 2009."
But Paulson acknowledged that investors need to look to the day when extremely low interest rates end. "You can only do so much with low interest rates."
The Fed has said that rates will remain near zero for the foreseeable future. Next week, central bank policymakers are scheduled to meet, and investors will be looking for rate guidance, but the bigger question will be whether the Fed will announce a decision to start scaling back its $85-billion-a-month bond-buying program.
Paulson didn't comment on Fed tapering, but described the eventuality of a "new world when assets trade ... by their returns [and] economies are judged on their fundamentals."
He also said that the U.S. economy could get a boost if Washington undertook major structural reforms, including taxes and immigration.
—By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere; Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC.