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A Tale of Two Treasury Secretaries

Treasury Secretaries, Hank Paulson and Robert Rubin.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Treasury Secretaries, Hank Paulson and Robert Rubin.

As the nation hurtles toward the fiscal cliff, can two of the country's most notable financial minds help find a way out?

The stakes will be high for former Treasury secretaries Hank Paulson and Robert Rubin as we task them with, among other things, figuring out how to avoid the fiscal cliff of rising taxes and falling government spending amid weak economic growth and strong political passions on both sides in an election year.

They hail from different eras and from different parties but succeeded in their day in navigating Washington and Wall Street during historic times. The two former Goldman Sachs top executives have rarely appeared on the same stage together. They will on Wednesday at "Delivering Alpha,"the second-annual CNBC-Institutional Investor conference.

After a long and successful career on Wall Street, Paulson became Treasury secretary under President George W. Bush just as the financial world began a historic tailspin. Together with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Paulson engineered a bailout that has been credited with saving the nation's financial industry but sharply criticized for enriching bankers and investors at taxpayer expense.

Rubin, who served under President Bill Clinton, presided over an era that was at the time hailed for prosperity and deregulation, especially in the financial sector, which has become controversial since the financial crisis. He also had his own run-in with bailouts, including the Mexican peso crisis and Long-Term Capital Management.

While the past will be interesting fodder for discussion, the future is what counts. From Europe to China to the United States, the key will be whether their combination of experience and expertise in politics and finance can help plot a course through the difficult decisions that lie ahead for the nation and the world.

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Delivering Alpha

Delivering Alpha 2012 Video

  • Signs that investors are moving out of defensive names like Wal-Mart and Exxon-Mobil and into more risky areas like specialty retail, with David Kotok, Cumberland Advisors and Michael Farr, Farr, Miller & Washington

  • The American Antitrust Institute says that less competition in the airline industry would produce higher fares. Diana Moss, American Antitrust Institute, and Henry Harteveldt, Atmosphere Research Group, discuss.

  • U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara is interviewed by Jim Cramer at the "Delivering Alpha" conference presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor on July 18, 2012 in New York City. This is an unedited video of the complete event.

Delivering Alpha 2012 Advisory Board

  • Afsaneh Mashayekhi Beschloss, President and CEO, The Rock Greek Group

    After a long and successful career on Wall Street, Schloss now works for New York City, where he is deputy comptroller for asset management and chief investment officer for the New York City Retirement System.

  • Ashbel Williams, Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer, Florida State Board of Administration (SBA)

    Williams, executive director and CIO of the Florida State Board of Administration, has spent much of his career in state government, but he's also worked in the hedge fund business in New York.   

  • Jennifer Vaccaro, Director of Institutional Sales, Investec Asset Management

    Vaccaro is director of institutional sales at Investec Asset Management, overseeing new business development in the North America institutional market. She has held senior sales positions at several other firms.