Timothy Geithner: Obama's Teflon Treasury Secretary

The reputations of Paulson and Bernanke are dented. But his is shinier than ever. Weird.


Who is Timothy Geithner that upon news of his impending nomination by Barack Obama, Matt Drudge would wonder -- in huge headline type --  if he was the man would "save the economy?"

Timothy Franz Geithner. New York Federal Reserve President. Technocrat. Bureaucrat. Career civil servant. Didn't like Paulson's financial regulation overhaul. Engineered the Bear Stearns "rescue." Heartily agreed that Lehman shouldn't be saved. Kinda thought Lehman should be saved. Worked at Henry Kissinger's consulting firm. A moderate Republican turned registered independent turned Obamacrat. Has a master's degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins. Put together the AIG rescue plan. Just 14 days younger than Obama. Dartmouth guy. Has lived in Japan, India and Thailand. Had a "general understanding" of the complex issues involved when Long-Term Capital imploded (via Alan Greenspan.). Worked at the Treasury department under Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers. Faced a "steep learning curve" when he came to the Fed (via Gerald Corrigan.). Good softball player. Self-deprecating sense of humor. Thinks income inequality and entitlements and too little saving are big problems. Not an economist. Never run a company. Married with a couple of kids. Surfs.

Enough answers for you? I dunno, I still have a few questions I would love to ask him. "Please describe your role during the the demise of Lehman." "How has the AIG bailout been good for taxpayer?" "What role did did Fannie and Freddie play in the subprime mortgage bubble?" "What role has government policy played in creating the housing and credit crisis?" "How does tax policy affect economic growth?" "What should be done to fix Social Security?" "Should the government more directly aid homeowners?" "What is the growth potential of the U.S. economy?" "Should unions represent more workers and how would that affect productivity?" "Should China be pushed to strengthen its currency." "Does America need a stronger dollar?" "How do budget deficits affect real interest rates."

But this is the most important one: "Mr. Geithner, the job of the New York Fed is to -- now I am quoting its own web site -- 'supervise and regulate financial institutions in the Second District [Wall Street]. Its primary objective is to maintain safe and competitive U.S. and global banking systems.' You have been in your current post since 2003 and during that time the U.S. financial system has come close to complete disintegration. Why do you deserve a promotion?"

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