Geithner headlines Obama’s economic team of familiar faces
The New York Fed president is known for his insights on ‘90s international crises.
President-elect Obama’s new economic team may represent continuity as much as change.Skip to next paragraph
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True, Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner is only 47, and looks younger. But he’s served as a high-ranking US official for years, and as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York he’s helped shape the Bush administration’s current financial rescue efforts.
Lawrence Summers, set to advise Mr. Obama from inside the White House as head of the National Economic Council, was a Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton. The probable new budget chief, Peter Orszag, already runs the Congressional Budget Office.
To some critics, this trio may not look like the radical break from past politics that candidate Obama promised. But at a time when the US economy is as fragile as it has been in a generation, in a bid to calm markets the president-elect appears to have opted for known figures respected by both parties.
Obama and his transition team have begun moving more quickly following a week of wild stock market volatility, due in part to a perceived vacuum of leadership in Washington.
For instance, it’s now all but certain there won’t be a new government stimulus package until after Inauguration Day. It’s unclear whether Congress will be able to coalesce around any bailout proposal for the Big Three US automakers. Current Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has said he’s going to sit on the remaining half of his $700 billion financial rescue fund, saving it for the incoming Obama administration.
Given this context, the Obama team decided it needed to take action, and on Nov. 22 in the Democrats’ weekly radio address Obama vowed to design a two-year stimulus plan with the goal of saving or creating 2.5 million jobs.
Following that, on Monday Obama is set to introduce his top economic trio all at once, said transition officials. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson also is likely to be nominated secretary of Commerce, although that announcement may come later in the month.
The prospect of Mr. Geithner, a known quantity to investors, at Treasury already has cheered the stock market, at least for one day, as it rose 6.5 percent to close at 8046.42 on Friday.
As head of the New York Fed, Geithner serves a role close to that of official Treasury envoy to Wall Street. With Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke, Geithner is already part of the inner team running US financial rescue policy.