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A Talk With Robert Rubin

When you think of exciting, dynamic careers, the title "Secretary of the Treasury" may not come to mind. But there's a lot of excitement swirling around one former cabinet member. When Robert Rubin talks, people listen.

The man given much of the credit for this country's economic turnaround has since left his government job and found an important position in the private sector, as he told The Early Show Co-Anchor Jane Clayson.

After taking a four-month break to fish, read and travel, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin joined a major financial institution last week called Citigroup, a large, full-fledged financial organization located in 120 countries around the world.

But when it comes down to the booming economy, for which Rubin is to some extent credited, he speaks with caution.

"If you look back over the whole history of economies and markets, there have always been reversals," he says. "Some people say we have a new paradigm. Because of technology, we now are invulnerable."

"My own view is that technology will make an enormous difference. It already has. But I don't believe we are invulnerable. I think people have to be careful and thoughtful about the risks they face, as well as the opportunities," he says.

One of the many driving forces behind the thriving economy is day trading, which has proliferated since the Web became a major means of buying and selling.

"Online trading is a good example of the potential for e-commerceÂ…to have an enormous impact on how business is conducted," Rubin explains. "I think that's all for the good. But I still think what I said before is right, even if there is a new world of technology, the risk of reversals is not gone."

Going from public service to the private sector, Rubin is all too familiar with the concept of reversals. Yet despite his new role in Citigroup, he cherishes the time he spent in the White House.

"I got a tremendous sense of accomplishment and satisfaction by working with the president and the vice president," says Rubin.

"I think they provided just enormously good leadership of this country on the economic issues and had the opportunity to be a part of that, as well with the rest of the team," he says.

"In additionÂ…I don't think you can have a full sense of how our government and society works without being there for a while. And I think I really did get a sense of how our government worked," he adds.

But when it comes to the millennium question, Rubin says the United States is prepared for Y2K.

"If you look at this country and the financial system and also the government and the major industries, my impression is that people here are prepared for Y2K," he says.

"The real problems I think lie in developing countries and other parts of the globe where they haven't had the resources, and I expect there will be problems elsewhere," he adds.

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