If you could go back and tell yourself to not do one thing during the financial crisis, what would that be, and why?
Kathy Ackerman, Minneapolis
I've obviously thought about this a lot, and I believe that the major decisions we made were the right ones. But I've got a list of things that I would like to have done better. For instance, when we sent the Troubled Asset Relief Program [TARP] proposal to Congress, it was a three-page outline. It was not intended to be a complete request. It was intended to be a starting point for negotiation. I wish now we had said that.
As Treasury Secretary, what was your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?
Debra Turner, New York City
I would think my greatest strength was decisiveness. My biggest weakness was public speaking. I never was able to let the American people know that the bailout was not about the banks but about Main Street and how a collapse of the financial system would be devastating.
More than a year after TARP launched, do you think it's working?
Matthew Thacker, Bowling Green, Ohio
I believe it is working very well. Remember, the purpose was to stabilize the financial system. If the system had collapsed, we would have had economic Armageddon.
What day or moment during the financial crisis do you remember most?
Carlos Lopez, Tulsa, Okla.
I remember Sunday, the 14th of September, 2008, when we realized that despite everything we tried, we didn't have the authority to prevent the failure of Lehman Brothers. It was going to be ... Catastrophic is too strong a word, but it was going to be a big problem.
Why are so many government officials from your former company, Goldman Sachs?
Mark Wolfinger, Evanston, Ill.
When I looked to bring people in to work with me, I was looking for people who had the skills and the experience and were willing to do the job. I was fortunate to work in a firm where government service was stressed as a virtue.
The credit crunch wasn't as hard on Goldman Sachs as it was on some other companies. Why then did it still ask for money under that first set of bailouts in 2008?
Mulkah Ade, London
We brought nine big banks into Treasury and asked them to all take capital [voluntarily]. That made it easier for many other banks to do so. In a crisis, we have what some people term the tallest-midget syndrome. Bankers don't want to be perceived as being weak, so they say, "I'm healthy, I'm strong, I don't need it" right up until they do.
What is the best approach, if there is one, for resolving the "too big to fail" issue?
Lawrence Lin, Taipei
If I could boil it down to one recommendation, it is that we need strong resolution authority so that any failing institution can be liquidated in a way that does not damage the financial system overall. Then taxpayers will never again have to come in and provide a bailout.
Do you think there is such a thing as a rational market?
Femi Awolusi, Denver
I believe in markets, but I don't believe that you can have unregulated, unfettered markets. Since the beginning of time, they have been prone to excesses. The key thing is to make sure we have a regulatory system that can evolve with the markets.
Do you believe global financial regulation will ever be a reality?
Mark Morsi, Copenhagen
I don't think we will ever have global financial regulation. I'm not sure we ever should. I don't see that as being problematic as long as we have good global coordination.
What can the average person do to help the national economy?
Soyeun Yang, Superior, Colo.
It just really comes back to all the virtues we've been taught since we were born: hard work, education, having the proper skill set. Americans, in my judgment, are the most entrepreneurial, innovative people in the world. Sure, we have our problems, but I can't find another major economy that doesn't have more serious ones.