Friday, November 21, 2008
Timothy Geithner is a person you probably don't know much about; you may have never even hear his name, but over the next four years, you'll get to know him very well. The reason is simple: Geithner has apparently been tabbed to be the next Secretary of the Treasury. Perhaps his job is now behind only the President of the US in power, influence, and importance. I have been hoping that he would be named for the position for the last several weeks. I spoke with a writer from Reuters right after the election, and she asked me who I thought should be the new Secretary of the Treasury and I said "the Chairman of the New York Fed." I couldn't even remember his name. It even surprised me at first, but then I realized that in his position as Chairman of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, he had been instrumental, according to news reports, for the actions taken with Bear Stearns, AIG, Lehman Brothers and probably a host of others. He has had skin in the game, so to speak. The other candidates President-elect Obama apparently considered were Lawrence Summers and Paul Volker. In my judgement, Summers is certainly qualified for the job and perhaps would offer some name recognition, something that might help us through this period of lack of trust. However, as I rolled his name over in my mind, I kept coming up with the thought that if he could't handle the faculty at Harvard, how would he handle the power elite of the world. As for Paul Volcker. I cringed when his name came up on the list. Don't mistake my thinking here. My admiration for what Mr. Volcker has done for this country is very high, but he is 81 years old and I questioned whether or not a man, even a brilliant and strong man, of his age could withstand the 24 hour-a-day struggle that lies ahead for the new Secretary. Geithner is 45 years old and has been instrumental in working through international financial crises going back to the Clinton years. He is in a powerful position now as New York Fed Chief, and by all accounts, he has a thoughtful and deliberate style, but is a bold decision maker. The stock market certainly liked Mr. Geithner's slotting. The market was trading about flat when I first saw the news, within the next 30 minutes it was up nearly 500points. Secretary Geithner just gave us a good day; let's keep him in our prayers in hopes that he might give us many more. Click here for Mr. Geithner's bio.