Djcnor’s Weblog

Obama’s Choices – #2 Tim Geithner

Posted on: December 30, 2008

Obama’s choice for Treasury Secretary is Tim Geithner.

The Treasurey Secretary is a member of the Cabinet. The job of the Treasury Secretary is to advise the President on the economy (a duty he will share with a number of other members of Obama’s first 20 choices, Larry Summers, Director of the National Economic Council, in particular). He also helps to plan the nation’s budget and determine how the money is divided among the various departments.

Mr. Geithner’s most recent job is as the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, but he has worked in the Treasury Department before under Mr. Summers and is popular in economic circles. He has been right in the middle of the present economic debacle and helped negotiate the Wall Street bail-out. He is credited with preventing the next big Depression, but that’s a bit premature. I’m not convinced that the experience counterbalances what has happened in getting it. Remember, Bush had experience in running a business….into the ground. Geithner is considered a cautious interventionist in international economic issues. 

Mr. Geithner was born into money, but lived a good deal of his youth internationally in countries where he could be expected to have been exposed to severe poverty. Part of that was in India and Thailand, so he has some intimate knowledge of the East. He’s an Ivy Leaguer.

The stock market rose sharply on news of Mr. Geithner’s appointment. This is taken as a sign of confidence, but I’m not paying undue attention to the opinions of those guys lately. Are you? I would have more confidence in someone with enough personal experience of hard times to really empathise with those who are or will soon be experiencing it, but perhaps that kind of person would not have the clout where it may need to be applied.

It will be interesting to compare Mr. Geithner’s background and general mindset with that of Mr. Summers, and to see which of the two has more influence on Obama.

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