Of the broader financial system, Paulson said: "Right now we're going through a period of unusual turmoil" and the government's focus needs to be on stabilizing the situation.
Bernanke echoed that sentiment.
Asked about the weakened value of the U.S. dollar, which has boosted exports but contributed to high oil prices, Paulson said: "We want a strong dollar. A strong dollar is in our nation's interest. ... We're going through a tough period right now."
Bernanke in recent days has called for stronger oversight of big Wall Street firms, which are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Those firms have been given unprecedented -- albeit temporary -- access to tap the Fed for emergency loans, a privilege that has been granted for years to commercial banks, which are more tightly regulated.
With credit problems persisting, the Fed may extend the lending privilege to investment banks into next year, Bernanke has said.
The Fed chief called on Congress to consider giving the central bank explicit authority to oversee systems that process payments and other financial transactions by investment firms as well as banks.
And, he recommended that Congress give a regulator the authority to set standards for capital, liquidity holdings and risk management practices for the holding companies of the major investment banks.
Currently, the Securities and Exchange Commission's oversight of these holding companies is based on a voluntary agreement between the SEC and those firms.
The Fed and the SEC announced an information-sharing agreement on Monday aimed at better detecting potential risks to the financial system.
With the Fed lending money to Wall Street firms, it needs to have a firm grasp of their financial shape.
Paulson has put forward an ambitious overhaul that would turn the Fed into a super cop in charge of financial market stability.
But the plan would remove the Fed from day-to-day banking supervision, which Bernanke opposes.