Warren Buffett’s ‘Heroes’ of the 2008 Financial Crisis — Where Are They Now?

Buffett thinks George W. Bush and others did "the right thing."
  • In the decade since the financial crisis, Warren Buffett reflects on his memories of the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.
  • Buffett acknowledges the decisions made during that time weren’t popular or easy but cites “heroes” who led the rescue efforts.
  • Key players who navigated the financial crisis have all taken diverging paths and some have left politics and banking altogether.

It’s been ten years since Wall Street executives desperately turned to Warren Buffett for financial assistance.

In a sit-down with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, Buffett got candid about the pressures he was under, witnessing the unraveling of Wall Street and subsequently the world’s markets. The Oracle of Omaha applauded the main players of the financial crisis for doing “the right thing” and as unpopular as their actions were to the American people, Buffett considers them “heroic.”

Click to see 10 money lessons on the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis.

GOBankingRates checked up on people Buffett considers heroes and here’s what they’re up to:

Ben Bernanke

  • The former chairman of the Federal Reserve infamously stood before Congress and warned of a looming recession back in April 2008 — just months before the financial crisis.
  • Although he admits that he could have done a better job communicating with the public during the throes of chaos, Bernanke is largely credited with leading the Fed through a series of decisions that rescued the American economy. As a scholar of the Great Depression, Bernanke lowered interest rates to the lowest levels in American history, bailed out Wall Street and rescued other troubled financial institutions.
  • After eight years at the helm of the central bank, Bernanke left the Fed in 2014 to come full circle to his academic roots. The 64-year-old former professor is a distinguished fellow in residence at the Brookings Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, where he researches the causes of the financial crisis. He maintains a blog and muses on economics, finance and policy and is a New York Times best-selling author.
  • Bernanke’s fortune is $3 million.

See: Top Market Meltdowns Over the Past 50 Years

Hank Paulson

  • The former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs was the head of the Treasury during the financial crisis. Paulson worked closely with Bernanke, but history doesn’t look as kindly on Paulson as it does on Bernanke. Fingers point to Paulson for allowing Lehman Brothers to collapse, yet Paulson helped engineer the bailout that prevented a total Wall Street meltdown with the then-$700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.
  • After his appointment as the Secretary of the Treasury ended in January 2009, Paulson married his passions for economics and the environment. Paulson is running the Paulson Institute, a think tank dedicated to advancing U.S.-China economic and environmental relations.
  • Paulson’s fortune is $700 million.

Also See: Warren Buffett Invested $5B in Goldman During the 2008 Crisis. What’s It Worth Now?

Tim Geithner

  • At the time of the crisis, Geithner was the head of the Federal Reserve and is credited with bailing out insurance, mortgage and financial giants like AIG, Bear Stearns, Citigroup and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. When he took over as Secretary of the Treasury in 2009, Geithner managed TARP, the bailout plan he co-authored while working for the Fed.
  • Following his tenure as Secretary of the Treasury, Geithner declined President Obama’s offer to become the chairman of the Fed and instead inked a book deal and hit the highly lucrative guest lecture circuit. He was able to parlay one speaking engagement at investment firm Warburg Pincus’ annual meeting into a full-time job as the firm’s president in November 2013.
  • Geithner’s fortune is $6 million.

Related: These 13 States Are Still Suffering From the Recession

George W. Bush

  • The much-maligned former president has a storied legacy. Responsible for healing and leading the country through 9/11, Bush also caught heat for starting the costly War on Terror and incurring the subsequent loss of civilian and military lives.
  • The financial crisis occurred during the twilight of Bush’s eight-year term. He’s credited with foreseeing the dangers mortgage giants posed, but also blamed for not doing enough and allowing the crisis to happen.
  • Since leaving the White House and returning to Texas in 2009, Bush has hit the lecture circuit like many former presidents, but he has also taken a shining to the arts. Namely, his penchant for paint, which started as a hobby, has become a tool to raise awareness for causes like military and veteran appreciation.
  • It’s argued that President Donald Trump is the best thing that has happened to Bush’s presidential legacy. At the time of his White House departure, Bush’s approval rating was at just 33 percent. In the last ten years, Bush has won many over as 61 percent of Americans now have a favorable view of him.
  • Bush is worth $40 million.

$20 Trillion and Counting: US Debt by President

Ken Lewis

  • Lewis serves as a cautionary banking tale. At the time of the financial crisis, Lewis was the CEO of Bank of America who daringly acquired Merrill Lynch. But due to overspending and bloated executive bonuses, Bank of America ultimately needed two bailouts from the government.
  • After being driven out by angry shareholders, Lewis was stripped of his title as chairman, retired from banking and was temporarily barred from serving as an executive or director of a public company.
  • Given his blacklist history and brokering what’s considered one of the worst deals in corporate history, as of 2013, Lewis was serving on a board of a movie production company based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Lewis’ fortune is $65 million.

Click to keep reading about how another recession would ruin two-thirds of Americans.

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All net worths are according to Celebrity Net Worth, unless otherwise stated.