Who Will Succeed Tim Geithner as Next Treasury Secretary?

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geithner obama.jpgOpinions are mixed on whether Timothy Geithner will hold his position as Secretary of the Treasury much longer. While I have always liked Geithner personally (he’s an old Asia hand), his leadership in the eyes of many is uncompelling.
The recent revelations that staff members of his at the New York Fed advised AIG to hide material matters from regulators may be the final trigger leading to his departure.
Obama needs to change up his economic team anyway. The President took the advice and counsel of Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Timothy Geithner, and Ben Bernanke and resuscitated Wall Street by pumping hundreds of billions of tax dollars as guarantees and bailouts into the financial sector.
We now have a high stock market but disturbingly job openings today are 50% lower than in 2007. Obama has said that 2010 is going to be a year of focusing on job creation and more serious infrastructure investment.
In my view, jobs and national infrastructure should have been the President’s priorities in 2009 — when he actually had the mandate and financial resources to make deep job-creating infrastructure investments that recurring returns to the American economy and workers over the next generation. But Obama is late to the cause, and future results are in doubt.
To convince American voters and working families he is serious about job creation and more sensible economic policies than he has thus far pursued, he can’t keep Lawrence Summers, Romer, Geithner, and the overwhelmingly neoliberal members of his White House econ team.
Obama can’t expect us to believe that the same team members that he has had working out global macroeconomic deals are the same who can focus on microeconomic issues in specific industries and on the nation’s pathetic jobs portfolio. Leo Hindery throws out some ideas on Huffington Post today on how to get the jobs machine going again, but I can’t imagine Obama’s current team seriously pursuing the Hindery action plan.
Jared Bernstein, chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden, is practically the only one with any serious background in infrastructure and jobs-focused economic policy.
So Obama needs to change the team.
I’ve been asking people to give some thought to who should run the Department of Treasury if and after Timothy Geithner departs. I’ve asked a wide variety of people privately — from the heavy labor to financial to high tech sectors — to share with me (off the record) who should take the helm of America’s economic policy shop.
The suggestions are quite varied, but I wanted to open up the discussion more publicly at The Washington Note and at Huffington Post.
Knee jerk, silly answers can always be fun — but they aren’t serious.
We need someone who can think carefully about changing the economic policy course of the country, who is as economist James K. Galbraith just shared with me “incorruptible”, and who can run a big government operation, and instill national and global confidence in his or her leadership.
I have some good and interesting names — but I’d like to hear from all of you.
Who should be America’s next Treasury Secretary?
— Steve Clemons

Comments

80 comments on “Who Will Succeed Tim Geithner as Next Treasury Secretary?

  1. miky says:

    I’m not an economist, so I’m not sure I’m qualified to suggest anyone..I do want someone with the ethics to care about the welfare of average Americans…to that end, Elozabeth Warren fills the bill as would Ralph Nader or even John Edwards.

    Reply

  2. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    I’m not an economist, so I’m not sure I’m qualified to suggest anyone..I do want someone with the ethics to care about the welfare of average Americans…to that end, Elozabeth Warren fills the bill as would Ralph Nader or even John Edwards.
    I agree with Tonyforesta on not liking Geitner’s secrecy and failure to disclose…this undermines any trust I might manage to scrounge up…

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  3. Roger says:

    Interesting question.
    First, I vote Ugg Boots and Paul Norheim off the island.
    Paul, whatever bug gets up your butt, extricate it. You’re foul.
    That said, I would highly suggest Jared Bernstein if any changes were made.
    Good luck on that surgery Paul.

    Reply

  4. erichwwk says:

    BTW, it is my understanding is that ONLY FCIC director Greene has the power to unilaterally issue subpoenas. Commission subpoenas can be blocked by the opposing party refusing to give consent, ie any subpoena request must have the support of at least one commissioner of the opposing party to be issued.
    Can anyone comment as to whether this is standard procedure for issuing subpoenas?

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  5. erichwwk says:

    and another:
    http://robertreich.org/post/331917854/why-obama-must-take-on-wall-street
    i’ll try for two:
    nope. help up, so it gets pasted in the URL

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  6. Paul Norheim says:

    You can only include two links in one comment.

    Reply

  7. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Dan,
    Just a quick note to say that, yesterday, I tried to post an answer to your question and give you some of the specifics about what Secretary Geithner has done that I think deserve more attention and … ahem … praise, even.
    But, it hasn’t been posted yet – probably because I included a few links? Anyway, I’ll revise the post – and eliminate the links – later when I have more time …
    Elizabeth

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  8. DonS says:

    Wigwag, on Geither’s ‘sacrifice’ of ‘big bucks’ fora public career, you are in some ways right. But what you point up also in part exactly describes part of the banksters problem: the assumption of a fantastically bloated lifestyle which becomes ‘normal’ to a certain class. At some point it becomes an exercise in what obscene expenditure one can dream up next to dispense with multiple wads that accumulated.
    And, you know what? A part of me has a concern that folks who in habit that worlds also possess a mindset that in incapable of corresponding and understanding what 99.99% of the population lives like a and requires to be ‘helped’. Some get bent out of shape at the salaries they hear that top government administrators earn, but somehow aren’t equally outraged by the robbery conducted by the banksters. Of course since the pols are for the most part in bed with the banksters, and hope one day to emulate their excess, the most we can hope for from them is faux outrage.
    Geither’s ‘sacrifices’ only make sense in a world turned upside down. And, by the way, haven’t you heard that money can’t buy happiness?

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  9. TonyForesta says:

    Tim Geithner is working tirelessly for whom Elizebth. For the finance oliragchs? Yes. For us. Oh no! Why is Geithner so resistant to disclosure, and bent of shield the details of TARP and all the other government handouts. Was Geithner working tirelessly when he signed off on AIG paying 100cents on the dollar for toxic assets worth 80% less in the real markets? Did Goldman Sachs benefit? Why? Where is the justification for Mr. Geithners tireless efforts to bailout the FAILED insitutions, and FAILED managements bruting and pimping FAILED models?
    Ill informed minds want to know?
    How do Geithners tireless actions benefit poor and middleclass Americans in anyway???
    And don’t give me some nonesense about what would have or could have happened. How Geithners tireless efforts thus far benefit poor and middleclass Americans in anyway?

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  10. erichwwk says:

    Wiwag, Geithner is relatively young, and entered the job market at an early age. So one could say he has been investing and setting himself up for income to be earned later. So I have less empathy than you as to the extent of his serving at less than market value. It is too soon to know. But to me the evidence is clear about his tax avoidance being intentional- the way WH is handled is that a check was issued in lieu, and a signature required, the check denoted, etc, etc, to ensure that one could not claim ignorance. To me to have a Sect. of Treasury that is not TOTALLY “incorruptible” is dangerous. Money is like the words with which we communicate. The value of fiduciary money is essentially based purely on TRUST. If we can’t trust it’s integrity, we cannot contract for arrangements whose payoffs occur in the future and/or in distant places. Collapse of money is akin in its impact to being forced to forgo the use of English.
    Geithner’s bailout plan has been view in a very split way. One group saw the bailout as necessary and another as tending towards fraud. Here is what Krugman had to say about the plan on Match 20, 2009 as it was being leaked.
    http://bit.ly/6XMQzM
    From my view, Geithner was merely carrying out Paulson’s desire to have the public reimburse Goldman Sachs for the loss of their phantom wealth, and he was able to do this for the same reason GWB was able to invade Iraq- by instilling fear in an uniformed public.
    Until the public is understands phantom wealth, and rejects statements such as “The public has lost $13 Trillion in wealth” as being real, they are vulnerable to being conned by Wall Street. Just WHAT was lost? Were houses burned down? Factories destroyed by hurricanes? What happened was not that REAL wealth disappeared, but that accounting fraud was discovered. That “lost” wealth was phantom wealth, in the sense that it was created by bookkeeping sleight of hand, And never existed in the first place.
    And I certainly don’t mean or intend to disparage Geithner. From my perspective he was merely carrying out Paulson’s, Summner’s and Rubin’s druthers. THESE folks can not so readily claim public sacrifice. Look into Summer’s role in the privatization/theft of Russia’s common property.
    And yes, Geithner had the skills to run the NYFed and was/is a very hard worker and from most accounts, a nice guy. But as Kucinich stated to his face, he had no concerns; of his not working hard (albeit inarticulate); Kucinich’s concern was over WHO he was working hard for.
    But yes in many ways, Tim’s problems are due to keeping, and being influenced by, bad company. I would not object, were he to show real remorse, and to his being considered for some role, where his knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the NYFED, and his Chinese and Japanese could be put to beneficial use. We are a long way from having this crisis over. The loss of idle labor is significant, painful, and unlike distributional losses, something that can NEVER be recovered. Just my $0.02 worth.

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  11. Franklin says:

    Paul Volcker is the ideal choice as far as domestic policy is concerned. He’s got credibility, a spine that’s as strong as anyone, and he seems to have a clear notion of what kind of fixes are needed. There’s no risk that he would leverage his position for a post public service career in the private sector either.
    The main downside is age. But in itself I don’t see this as a disqualifier.
    The one advantage that Geithner has over potential successors is his understanding of China — and credibility with the Chinese. I don’t think this can be understated as a necessary skill set in the 21st century for the American Treasury Secretary.
    Joseph Stiglitz would also be an excellent choice.

    Reply

  12. WigWag says:

    Now that Steve has put Tim Geithner on his *celebrity dead list* for 2010 (metaphorically speaking), it seems only right that someone should join Elizabeth Miller in saying a few nice words about him.
    Whatever anyone may think about his policies preferences (which after all are just a reflection of Obama’s policy preferences) one thing that is clearly true about Geithner is that he is truly public spirited. He has spent virtually his entire career in public service most of it at Treasury (including his current stint as Secretary and previous stints in a variety of positions) and at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. In none of these positions did Geithner earn as much as $400,000 per year. His salary at the New York Fed was $385,000 and his current salary is $191,300.
    While this may sound like alot to some; it is a pittance compared to what Geithner could have earned. At virtually any point in the past 20 years, Geithner could have left government and walked into a senior level position at any of the large investment or commercial banks. Had he done so, Geithner would have earned more in a week than he earned at the NY Fed or at Treasury in a year. He would be enjoying seven or eight figure bonus every year; he would have a private jet (or a share in Net Jets); he would be summering in Nantucket and he would own an enormous house in Greenwich, CT. On his salary, none of that is possible; in fact, in New York or Washington, D.C. he is nothing more than an upper-middle class person.
    Going back to the days when Lloyd Bentsen was President Clinton’s first Treasury Secretary, every other Treasury Secretary (with the exception of Larry Summers himself) was enormously wealthy and that wealth had been earned before he took the job. Compared to them, Geithner is a poor schnook.
    None of this means that Geithner is a martyr but he has made significant financial sacrifices to pursue his career in public service. I don’t doubt that when he leaves his current job he will decide it’s time to make some money. But when his career is finally over, he will look back and know that he sacrificed tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to make the choices that he has.
    Like his policies or hate them, I think there’s something at least somewhat admirable in that.

    Reply

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I would encourage you, though, to be a part of the discussion there and call people out when they make statements that are non-serious and just add to the nonsense of the blogosphere”
    To be quite honest, Elizabeth, your prolific and widespread cheerleading for Joe Biden, spread throughout the “blogosphere”, epitomizes the phenomena you call “the nonsense of the blogosphere”.

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  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Unfortunately, this blog highlights all that is wrong with what has become an increasingly toxic and dysfunctional media culture and with the dangerously ill-informed electorate that it has produced”
    Gee, does this mean you won’t be back? Oh, dear me, what a pity.

    Reply

  15. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Dan,
    I’m not sure whether you are being serious or not – hard to tell with this crowd. But, I’m going to assume that you are interested in learning more about what Secretary Geithner has done, before and since this crisis began, to save the financial system from catastrophic collapse and all of us Main Streeters from having to suffer the dire consequences of that catastrophe.
    Some of the specific actions that Geithner has taken and some of the polices that he has been responsible for implementing are pretty well known – and very well berated – but are outlined fairly well in these two links
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/20/opinion/20brooks.html?_r=1
    http://www.newdeal20.org/?p=6569
    I would also check out any one of his many congressional hearings – that’s where I have learned the most about what he has already accomplished and what still needs to be done. And, of course, you’ll find a wealth of information at the website for the Treasury Department, including his work on financial regulatory reform which can be found here
    http://www.financialstability.gov/docs/regs/FinalReport_web.pdf
    I would suggest that, given all that the treasury secretary has done to stabilize the financial system and what he plans to do to ensure that another crisis like this cannot happen again, Ben Bernanke should have shared Time’s Man of the Year award with Tim Geithner. And, that’s no hyperbole!
    I’m willing to bet the farm – even if it’s in Iowa – that Secretary Geithner won’t be going anywhere because his contributions to the success of the Obama administration are simply too valuable and, quite frankly, irreplaceable.

    Reply

  16. Dan Kervick says:

    At least Soros knows something about making and protecting money, which I assume the chief obligation of the Secretary of the Treasury.

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  17. WigWag says:

    Here’s an idea I offer only half in jest; why not replace Geithner with George Soros?
    While there’s alot politically I don’t agree with Soros about I bet he would be a stupendously good Secretary of the Treasury. He knows the world of finance and Wall Street like the back of his hand and he is personally acquainted with every power player. He understands foreign exchange issues better than almost everyone having made his billions speculating on currency.
    He is a deep economic thinker having written several extremely thoughtful books on economics, economic development and economic history.
    He knows what it’s like to have worked his way up from the bottom; he was a poor immigrant who achieved success through hard work and moxie.
    He has a keen sense of what type of regulation would truly reduce systemic risk without crippling Wall Street.
    Personally I wouldn’t pick him for Secretary of State or head of AID but as Secretary of the Treasury he might be perfect.
    The only problem is that I have a feeling that Soros doesn’t like to play second fiddle to anyone. He may have financed Obama’s campaign but that doesn’t mean he wants to work for him.

    Reply

  18. John Waring says:

    http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=bubble_and_bail
    Here’s one of my all-time favorite articles on our current predicament, Kevin Philipps’s “Bubble and Bail,” on the past 30 years growth of the Wall Street debt industry. The article is timely still.

    Reply

  19. Carroll says:

    Mary Schapiro?…I don’t think so.
    Or maybe she just didn’t want to regulate derivatives becuase she didn’t understand them.
    Either way..thumbs down.
    “In October 1993, Schapiro gave a speech in Lugano, Switzerland, “The Derivatives Revolution and the World Financial System,” concerning potential regulation of the unregulated derivatives market in which she cited “the benefits to financial innovation that may result from a more flexible regulatory paradigm,” and stated that she was ….”not convinced that consolidated regulatory supervision of securities firms and their affiliates is necessary or appropriate at this time.”[7]”

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  20. John Waring says:

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/01/joseph-stiglitz-wall-street-morals
    A good read from Joseph Stiglitz, “Why Are We Letting Wall Street Off So Easily”.

    Reply

  21. Dan Kervick says:

    Elizabeth,
    What are some of the specific actions and/or policies you think deserve attention and commendation.
    (And by “specific”, I don’t just mean things like working tirelessly.)

    Reply

  22. Karl says:

    On second thought. How about Ron Bloom? Maybe light on government managing experience. But great negotiator, perfect on the issues, solid record, would get unions excited again. Why not?

    Reply

  23. chardin says:

    HOPE FOR CHANGE
    the AIG information is shameful. That’s just what we KNOW about. What else has taken place?
    Geithner must be replaced. No wiggle room when it comes to ethics violations like this.
    I nominate:
    Joseph Stiglitz.
    Mr. Stiglitz was right when he warned this time last year that Obama was confusing the idea of saving the banks with ‘saving the bankers’. He is conscientious, extremely bright, sees the big picture and is a true reformer (ie: when it came to single payer for health care and wisdom regarding refraining from what we have seen just happen in Afghanistan as a result of the new surge of troops and CIA activity etc.)
    For Change to happen, you have to do something DIFFERENT:
    Joseph Stiglitz.
    Chardin

    Reply

  24. Linda says:

    I’ll just add a couple more names:
    Mary Schapiro who currently heads SEC.
    But I really found Peter J. Solomon testifying at hearings today to be very easy to understand, very articulate–and probably an excellent choice.
    He probably is a Democrat, is a decade younger than Volcker. He was on the second panel if anyone wants to listen to him.

    Reply

  25. Paul Norheim says:

    I don`t intend to be ad hominem here, but I think those who have replied to
    Elisabeth Miller`s allegations are wasting their time. She`s said exactly the same
    here re. Joe Biden a couple of times last autumn. Allow me to translate here
    political message – it`s pretty simple:
    1) Joe Biden is a genius.
    2) Tim Geithner is a genius too.
    All those who disagree with Geithner or Biden are either
    a) uninformed/grassroot.
    b)malevolent.
    And that`s all she has to say. She`ll be back at TWN next time someone doesn`t show
    Biden or Geithner the blind respect she thinks they deserve. She`s a fan. Google her
    name and the name of the VP, and you`ll see.

    Reply

  26. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Linda,
    I was, admitedly, having a bit of a moment. But, I did not characterize TWN regulars as ill-informed. Though, my comment here was about as clear as mud … a recurring problem of mine, from time to time.
    I know better than to suggest that anyone here is ill-informed! Well…unless, of course, the subject matter at hand has anything to do with VP Biden. 🙂
    I have to strongly disagree with you about Geithner’s ability to communicate complicated policy matters through his various congressional committee hearings as I have found his testimony and Q&A sessions with the members extremely illuminating and enlightening. But, that’s just me…literally, apparently.
    I would strongly agree that many of us are suffering through this economic downturn and financial crisis and we are understandably frustrated with the remedy and, most especially, with the very bad behavior of many financial institutions who have had to be rescued from a demise largely of their own making.
    However, at the same time, we have to recognize that there were few options available to the treasury secretary to prevent an all out global financial meltdown and all of them were odious, on any number of levels. And, that is why he has been working tirelessly to stem the tide, first and foremost, but also to put in place the necessary financial reforms and regulatory authority that would extend to government much better options to prevent or mitigate any future financial crisis.

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  27. Carroll says:

    I can’t think of a single person who fits the “entire” description.
    “The Secretary of the Treasury is the principal economic advisor to the President and plays a critical role in policy-making by bringing an economic and government financial policy perspective to issues facing the government.
    The Secretary is responsible for formulating and recommending domestic and international financial, economic, and tax policy, participating in the formulation of broad fiscal policies that have general significance for the economy, and managing the public debt.
    The Secretary oversees the activities of the Department in carrying out its major law enforcement responsibilities; in serving as the financial agent for the United States Government; and in manufacturing coins and currency.
    The Chief Financial Officer of the government, the Secretary serves as Chairman Pro Tempore of the President’s Economic Policy Council, Chairman of the Boards and Managing Trustee of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds, and as U.S. Governor of the International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.”
    But I would like to see the posters point out how their choice fits the all the criteria.
    Maybe this is a good time to rethink the structure of the treasury
    But what I don’t want is anyone who “got their learning” by spending years on WS.
    I have to think on this.

    Reply

  28. Linda says:

    Ms. Miller,
    I also look forward to what Steve eventually writes about all this, and I did not take the time to look at over 300 comments on this blog over at HP.
    I have followed TWN since its start, don’t post often but have come to “know” those who post here regularly. I often don’t agree with others, but I think you are totally wrong about characterizing us as uninformed and merely parroting pundits and media.
    Those who post on TWN read a great deal–books, newspapers, other periodicals–not just blogs, and many of us watch C-Span and hearings that interest us regularly. I am listening to the hearings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission as I am writing this.
    Indeed one of the deficits (pun intended)that was clear early on about Geithner is that he is not very good at articulating policies and programs before Congressional hearings or selling them to the public. Sheila Bair, Elizabeth Warren, and Paul Volcker are much better at that, and it is part of the job.
    I think it is entirely fair for you to question whether this is the time to be talking about replacing Geithner, especially because it isn’t going to happen any time soon. I appreciate what a difficult job Geithner has.
    However, most of us who comment in TWN live far outside the Beltway and see no improvement in jobs, mortgages under water, etc. and especially no legislation yet passed to reregulate and fix the financial system. Far too many of our citizens are suffering and hurting through no fault of their own.
    Everyone I know is either disgusted, disappointed, disenchanted, distressed, and/or depressed.

    Reply

  29. DonS says:

    I agree Elizabeth Warren could be an inspired choice. She would need protection and support, as would any serious reformer, since Wall Street would be gunning for her. All those checks with all those zeros might be at stake.
    It would be good to recruit a few such inspired choices with the intention of truly sending a message about a serious new direction not dictated by Wall Street. Since we don’t have Treasury Secretary’s by committee, appropriate ways to bring others into the policy planning. Like Robert Reich. Like Elliot Spitzer if he could be appropriately shield from the cries of impropriety (from the likes, shall we note, of a David Vitter).
    Or would bringing the ones with the ‘right’ ideas inside the tent simply neuter them?
    All depends on what Obama wants to signal.

    Reply

  30. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Thanks, Steve … will be looking forward to your updates on this with great interest!

    Reply

  31. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Steve,
    I just took a quick look at the 14 pages of comments over at HP, and you are quite right … they are overwhelmingly respectful and thoughtful with regard to who they would like to see head up the treasury department.
    But, what I was referring to was the way in which you imply that Geithner should go simply based on the fact that people find his leadership uncompelling. How many of those people do you suppose have actually listened to any of his testimony before the TARP oversight panel or any of the various congressional committees and to the highly informative and respectful dialogue he has had with committee and panel members.
    I would hazard a guess and say that none of them have listened and, at best, have heard some analysis of it from a media that is largely incapable of providing anything that approaches accurate and enligtening reporting on this or any other complicated subject.
    I hope you will have some time to get involved int he discussion over at HP – on this one and other pieces you post there … especially about the vice president, someone else for whom there is ample speculation about who will his replacement. Sigh.

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  32. Cato the Censor says:

    This is like listening to a bunch of twelve year old kids debate their ideal baseball team. None of this is going to happen. For Geithner to be replaced, Obama would have to figure out what’s going on in this country economically and financially. He’s demonstrated over the last year that he hasn’t a clue on this score(conclusively, to my mind). Face it, on domestic and foreign policy, Obama buys the same tired, failed conventional wisdom that the Village has spouted for decades now (private good, public bad, Wall Street all knowledgeable, etc.). There hasn’t been the slightest indication that he’s learned anything or even thought of changing his mind. This is why he’s going to be a one-term president.
    The commenters here may enjoy this discussion and pardon me for spoiling anybody’s fun, but you might as well be discussing the merits of green cheese from the Moon.

    Reply

  33. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks Elizabeth,
    I do understand what you are concerned about. I think that what runs through a lot of blogs is a populist current that can feel uncomfortable for many — and which occasionally makes me very uncomfortable as well. In my post, I asked people to think about this carefully. The position is not just about the views one holds but the ability to change the direction of a big ship and to run a very large, critical organization.
    I am going to respond in the next few days (or earlier if I can wrestle up the time) in a way that gets a composite of these views and presents them in some context. I have received a couple of hundred emails from serious thinkers and policy analysts who can’t publicly post their thinking — which I will also try to reflect.
    I think that this may be the best way to use both grassroots and grasstop thinking in a later post on this subject.
    Stay tuned – very much appreciate your note back.
    all best, steve clemons

    Reply

  34. John Waring says:

    Wig Wag,
    The reason I suggested Paul Volcker is he has the courage and the heft to reform our broken financial system. He went into the lions’ den and told Wall Street that their pride and joy, financial innovation, has destroyed value, not created it. Overreliance on opaque debt instruments and the blurring of the distinction between commercial and investment banking are the sources of much of our present evils.
    What he did as Fed Chairman had to be done. Inflation had to be rung out of the system. His policies were blunt, brutal, but they worked.
    I want someone who has the guts to be blunt and brutal with Wall Street, for the good of the country.

    Reply

  35. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Steve,
    What I find disheartening is the level of uninformed opinion that is pervasive at the Huffington Post and, unfortunately, that is the kind of opinion you seem to be comfortable with.
    I would encourage you, though, to be a part of the discussion there and call people out when they make statements that are non-serious and just add to the nonsense of the blogosphere.
    I guess I’m just frustrated by all of the comments related to Secretary Geithner that are so obviously ill-informed with respect to what he has been working tirelessly to achieve.
    Thanks,
    Elizabeth

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  36. Steve Clemons says:

    Elizabeth, I just checked the posts at Huffington Post and found them on the whole to be respectful, thoughtful — and lots of interesting names. Sorry that folks expressing preferences for their national leadership somehow seems off-putting to you.
    best, steve clemons

    Reply

  37. Steve Clemons says:

    Elizabeth, thanks for your comment. I posed a question that has roots in a logical assessment of Obama’s economic policy options and team. If you think that posing such questions is an example of a toxic side to enquiry, then I think you are on a disconcerting track. I have been tied up since I posted these items yesterday afternoon — and will go have a look at Huffpost now — but to make me responsible for the responses of others is wrong. best regards, Steve Clemons

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  38. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Unfortunately, this blog highlights all that is wrong with what has become an increasingly toxic and dysfunctional media culture and with the dangerously ill-informed electorate that it has produced.
    The response it has elicited at the Huffington Post, without any engagement from the blogger to the deluge he has provoked, is as disheartening as the blog itself and gives proof to this sad state of affairs, in spades.

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  39. TonyForesta says:

    Tim Geithner is a lacky and operator for the predatorclas pimping, bruting, shielding, and perpetuating ponzi schemes conjured by the predator class, – of, by, and for the predatorclass alone. He does not represent the people. Geithner represents the oligarchs alone and exclusively. The rest of us don’t matter to Timmothy Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury. He does not represent the people, Giethner represents, protects, shields, advances, and profits the oligarchs and the predatorclass alone and exlcusively.
    If we truly lived in a democracy Giethner, Summers, Bernacki, Paulson, et al.. would be in jail. Sadly we inhabit a kleptocracy and are witness to the most ruthless robbing and thieving in the history of the world. If we tolerate this abuse, woe to us, for we are a week and retarded people, – if not, – then wake up America!!!! We are being Robbed!!!!!

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  40. erichwwk says:

    No other “viable” choice. if he thinks otherwise, I hope he at least discusses that with a certain former colleague, Richard Posner.
    And listen to FDR’s 1946 speech, and the crowd’s response.

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  41. erichwwk says:

    Linda, I agree with much of what you say about Shiela Bair (and apologize for not including her). But being the perceived front-runner by many, she needs no plug from me.
    My concern about Shiela, while conceding her greater line experience, is my perception of her corresponding lack of broad market, investment, and international experience. Knowing how to regulate markets, while very important, is different from regulating money in the sense of supporting co-coordinating functions in a fair an efficient manner.
    But yes, considering the mess the Goldman Sachs folks have made with their deceit and greed, perhaps litigation skills are as important, or perhaps even more important, than seeing how to disaggregate the big picture and understand how the parts relate.
    No one person will possess all the skills and capabilities to make our financial systems fair and viable again. So I guess the most important attribute is, as Jamie told Steve, is that the lead person be “incorruptible”, and can lead a big team. But technical capacity to view markets “in the whole”, despite the experience of those that stuck with gods after they were proven false, I feel is a still a capacity that is also essential.
    What is ABSOLUTELY essential, is that Obama develop a spine, and change his larger economic team in a fundamental way. He has no other choice.

    Reply

  42. Seth Derek Aronson says:

    Paul Krugman, Elizabeth Warren or Elliot Spitzer.

    Reply

  43. michael king says:

    The problem, though, is Obama HIMSELF is a Neoliberal. Or, through some combination of hypercaution and a near-obsession with “bipartisanship” — would SOMEBODY tell the President that the world of “Advise and Consent” is long gone, with Will Geer replaced by Mitch McConnell??? — Obama ends up where a Neo-Liberal would, too. Geithner is not going anywhere for months and months, and by the time the WH political operation wakes up to the impending Midterm disaster, it will be too late.

    Reply

  44. Dan Kervick says:

    So I guess Geithner is “down”, huh Steve?
    Not that I care, but I thought this was the sort of Greg Craiging of which you disapproved.

    Reply

  45. Liz says:

    I’d like to see Simon Johnson replace Geithner.

    Reply

  46. Kim says:

    Elizabeth Warren is the only person with enough smarts and public confidence to get the job done.

    Reply

  47. Kim says:

    Elizabeth Warren is the only person with enough smarts and public confidence to get the job done.

    Reply

  48. Jim Mastro says:

    Elizabeth Warren, hands down. She’s smart, incorruptible, and knows what needs to be done.

    Reply

  49. Linda says:

    My first choice for Secretary of Treasury is Sheila because she has the most experience in many areas and has done a good job at FDIC. She’s probably a Republican. I don’t think a woman has ever been Secretary of Treasury.
    A bit about her from FDIC website:
    ” Sheila C. Bair was sworn in as the 19th Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) on June 26, 2006. She was appointed Chairman for a five-year term, and as a member of the FDIC Board of Directors through July 2013.”
    “Chairman Bair has an extensive background in banking and finance in a career that has taken her from Capitol Hill, to academia, to the highest levels of government. Before joining the FDIC in 2006, she was the Dean’s Professor of Financial Regulatory Policy for the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst since 2002. While there, she also served on the FDIC’s Advisory Committee on Banking Policy.”
    “Other career experience includes serving as Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury (2001 to 2002), Senior Vice President for Government Relations of the New York Stock Exchange (1995 to 2000), a Commissioner and Acting Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (1991 to 1995), and Research Director, Deputy Counsel and Counsel to Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (1981 to 1988).”
    So next to Volcker who is in his early 80s, she’s the best qualified. Most of the others have only been professors and writers.
    Stiglitz to replace Larry Summers.

    Reply

  50. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, considering that Ron Paul IS THE ONLY ONE TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT THE FED, I can’t think of anyone to fill the post, because everyone named, above, are lying pieces of shit, who are entirely corrupt, OR THEY WILL NOT GET THE POSITION.
    If they aren’t willing to play the game, they don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.
    Besides, why do we need a “Treasury Secretary” when these assholes in Washington think they can just print money as needed? Seems to me thats the kinda system that doesn’t require oversight. In fact, it would probably suffer greatly from actual honest oversight.
    So WTF, lets just give the position to Maddoff, he’s got plenty of time to devote to the position, and he has the PERFECT resume for managing our taxpayer’s dollars in the manner we’ve learned to expect.

    Reply

  51. erichwwk says:

    Nice, timely, and hopefully, a post of importance as service to the nation, Steve.
    All are essential qualities, but whoever is selected must also be committed to broadening the traditional direction of Treasury beyond concern for high level financial stakeholders.
    The days when the financial selector deems itself entitled to 40% of US GDP should be over. Period!
    The purpose of this exercise is to facilitate coordination in the optimum use of resources, not to pump up asset prices and generate windfall phantom profits for a few, picked from the pockets of workers.
    Eliot Spitzer, William Black, and Frank Partnoy have posted the top ten questions they would ask at tomorrow’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission hearings here:
    http://www.newdeal20.org/?p=7443
    People I like include:
    James Galbraith,
    Joe Stiglitz,
    Simon Johnson, and
    Dean Baker.
    They would meet your first and third criteria, as well as my additional one of addressing the interests of the non financial community. They all understand what bubbles, greed, and the financial oligarchy are, as well as the difference between risk and uncertainty, and the difference between credit and balance sheets.
    A concern would be their ability to run a big government operation, and sadly a reason to have a subordinate on board that, like Tim Geithner, is familiar with the nuts and bolts of the NY Federal reserve.
    As FDR said in his famous 1936 Madison Square Garden speech:
    “We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
    They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.”
    See a 4:34 sect of this clip, thanks to Kevin Drum here:
    newdeal20.org/?p=7389
    Than listen to the crowd roar. Obama, what do you want? Wall Street money now or THAT kind of public respect.

    Reply

  52. Tom77494 says:

    .
    Paul Allen McCulley
    .

    Reply

  53. JamesL says:

    I agree with Dan Kervick. Another invertebrate!
    Wrong queue. John Bolton?
    Emerging from the recession? Slap my knee that’s rich Dan. Great joke. sPITTIN’ IN MY BEER. My friends’ll get a kick outa that. eRMERGIN? hayzues an’ mary HAW HAW where u been? An’ I DO vote.

    Reply

  54. mansterEZ says:

    A conscience driven cut and dried progressive with no ties to Wall Street or big business. Someone out of the loop who is a dedicated trustworthy bureaucrat loyal only to American prosperity. I don’t know if there is such a person, but Geithner isn’t it.

    Reply

  55. Dan Kervick says:

    How about John Bohn, California Public Utilities Commissioner? Bohn has a Republican background and has a strong background in finance, but is a noted proponent – along with some progressive think tanks – of creating a “Green Bank” to provide the capital bridge to the coming green economy. As utilities commissioner in California, he is on the front lines of the changing global energy economy.
    Now that the country appears to be emerging, albeit slowly, from the recession, but with job growth depressingly lagging, it might be the right time to jump back into the pro-active, transformational and job-building public investment efforts that Obama was elected to enact, but which have been delayed by the need to stop the bleeding and dig out from the mortgage finance collapse.
    A smart, pragmatic, future-oriented Republican. Seems like Obama’s type of guy.

    Reply

  56. RickG says:

    For Treasury, there has to be someone with
    credibility in Finance, and there’s probably no
    way to avoid some degree of taint. For this
    reason, give the “Village” Jamie Dimon.
    Stiglitz would be good in the Summers position.
    Perhaps bring in Jamie Galbreath for Romer.
    To compensate for the Treasury choice, find a
    headbanging role for Elliot Spitzer and let him
    exact his revenge on the Wall Street b*stards that
    took him down.
    I greatly respect Liz Warren, but am concerned
    that she would not have the authority and or
    temperment to implement her policies. Find some
    brawn to match up with that mind.
    Paul Krugman himself says he’d be awful in
    government, and for chrissake we need his column
    in the Times and his blog!
    Bring in Mark Kleiman to shake up some ideas on
    the criminal justice front.
    Leo Hindery: here’s someone with a lot of
    business experience and progressive tendencies.
    Find a slot for him getting funding out into the
    economy and getting folks to work.

    Reply

  57. Blue Shark says:

    …Nobel Prize econ Paul Krugman.
    …Who better?

    Reply

  58. erichwwk says:

    Outstanding and timely post, Steve. Obama could do much worse than have you or James Galbraith head the selection team.
    “We need someone who can think carefully about changing the economic policy course of the country, who is as economist James K. Galbraith just shared with me ‘incorruptible’, and who can run a big government operation, and instill national and global confidence in his or her leadership.”
    All three are essential qualities, but whoever is selected must also be committed to broadening the traditional direction of Treasury from caring only about the interests of high level financial stakeholders to include interests of all those millions willing to work just as hard as well. The days when the financial selector deems itself entitled to 40% of US GDP should be over. Period! After all money is a mere tool, and should be seen as supporting the REAL economy, and NEVER as the driving force. The purpose of this exercise is to facilitate coordination in the optimum use of resources, not to pump up asset prices and generate windfall phantom profits.
    So yes, we need a Sect. of Treasury that sees the financial crisis as one of fraud, as well as of mere technical arrogance.
    Eliot Spitzer, William Black, and Frank Partnoy have posted the top ten questions they would ask at tomorrow’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission hearings here:
    http://www.newdeal20.org/?p=7443
    People I like include James Galbraith, Joe Stiglitz, Simon Johnson, and Dean Baker. They would meet your first and third criteria, as well as my additional one of addressing the interests of the non financial community. They all understand what bubbles, greed, and the financial oligarchy are, as well as the difference between risk and uncertainty, and the difference between credit and balance sheets.
    A concern would be their ability to run a big government operation, and sadly a reason to have a subordinate on board that, like Tim Geithner, is familiar with the nuts and bolts of the NY Federal reserve.
    As FDR said in his famous 1936 Madison Square Garden speech:
    “We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
    They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.”
    See a 4:34 sect of this clip, thanks to Kevin Drum here
    http://www.newdeal20.org/?p=7443
    Than listen to the crowd roar. Obama, are you man enough to hear it?
    Do you understand that token gestures, and tough talk not backed by action will no longer cut it?

    Reply

  59. DonS says:

    . . . common man . . . .

    Reply

  60. DonS says:

    As a Virginian, I would take Elizabeth Warren over Mark Warner, at this point, 100:1. Warner has not distinguished himself as getting it with regard the plight of the common make, Virginians included.

    Reply

  61. gregorylent says:

    outsource the job to any of several members of the ccp in beijing … better ideas, stronger thinking, deeper understanding of global reality in 2010.

    Reply

  62. Jackie says:

    WigWag,
    I could see Prestowitz. He’s a very sane republican. I read a book he wrote a few years ago and was impressed. I also like Stiglich.
    I’d go for anyone but the current crew. Haven’t we had Larry Summers before? And I really, really want Geitner to go. Hopefully the emails will get him.

    Reply

  63. David says:

    Some pretty credible nominees.
    Questions, I like your choice of words here: “what really needs to happen is a deconcentration of wealth.” Deconcentration gets to the heart of the matter so elegantly.

    Reply

  64. Scott says:

    As a former Virginian, I wouldn’t want him to give up his Senate seat, but perhaps Mark Warner? He’s business-friendly but has actually created jobs and cares about making things actually work/function.

    Reply

  65. MarkL says:

    Stiglitz — he’s voiced his opinions — give him a crack at it.
    Volcker — has previous experience — and, dang, he’s tall.
    Ron Paul —- we’ll at least get the transparency that Washington has been promising.
    T Boone Pickens — he can bring his alt. energy ideas into the position also.
    Steven Colbert ….. at least we can laugh a bit while we are crying……..

    Reply

  66. WigWag says:

    John Waring wants Paul Volker for the job. Why?
    First of all, he’s 110 years old (I can say that because I’m 109).
    The number of lives destroyed by Paul Volker when he was head of the Fed during the Carter Administration is incalculable. Sure, he needed to stem the inflation that emanated from the policies of Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter; he had little choice but to raise interest rates. But the swiftness with which he did it and the callousness with which he did it caused a deep recession that threw millions of people out of work.
    Volker’s solution to inflation and high interest rates was to deliberately engineer a recession that was long, brutal and terribly destructive.
    Why this man is celebrated today is beyond me.
    As far as I can tell, the only thing he has going for him is longevity.

    Reply

  67. We_are_toast says:

    Next Treasury Secretary? Elizabeth Warren
    Or if you REALLY want meaningful change; Eric
    Janszen.

    Reply

  68. Madeline Michel says:

    Not that he would ever accept but DUH! PAUL KRUGMAN

    Reply

  69. DonS says:

    Yes, a new Treasury Secretary. Yes, an emphasis on job. But, also,an individual and an outlook that is cognizant of the immense mistake it has been to put all the eggs in the Rubin/Goldman Sachs basket. Wrong politically, and wrong economically over the broad spectrum
    I am not meaning to dodge the question in the post. But a change in team now could and must signal a change in culture. Jobs must be a focus; but serious financial reform is a critical focus to address the environment that promotes and rewards bubbles. All part of addressing the pending populist explosion.
    Walk and chew gum.
    Meanwhile,except for the known knowns (like Krugman, Stiglitz), I have one person in mind, already in the administration (but not a Goldman Sachs clone), but am not sure what his thinking is today, so I’ll defer for now.

    Reply

  70. Ian says:

    Elliot Spitzer.

    Reply

  71. ... says:

    plenty of foxes to choose from….

    Reply

  72. questions says:

    I don’t know about people in particular, but given the potency of the oligarchs, the chances are it’s going to be someone who makes them feel fairly safe.
    Note Goldman Sachs’s thing about maybe considering mandatory charitable donations — THIS is the oligarchic response — charity. Not taxes, not programs, not job security, not containing one’s own desire so that others might live well enough. Just a touch of noblesse oblige, a little alms for the poor, bread for the breadlines.
    Of course, what really needs to happen is a deconcentration of wealth. The numbers are insanely skewed in the US. Productivity growth goes to the owners, profits go to the owners, decreased employee costs of any sort go to the owners. The owners threaten to leave on a fast boat for China, and it’s a credible threat. Or they hire a computer and fire the people.
    Clearly, all of these moves increase efficiency, make products cheaper for consumers, give us all cell phones, computers, microwaves, objets d’art and a pension from the stock investments. BUT, they also cause us a lot of economic dislocation. Someone somewhere at some point noted that we are forced to choose between ourselves as consumers and ourselves as laborers. The consumer side has been winning for quite some time.
    If anyone knows how to pace relocation so that it compensates for dislocation, THAT’s the person to hire. But I’m guessing in a way that it’ll never quite work out.
    Was it a HuffPo headline that said something about how lenders would tighten up even more on credit if the gov’t started taxing/reforming finance?
    I think the thing we need to settle is for whom is capital in existence? There are vast concentrations of wealth that serve largely private purposes and largely a limited clientele. We have a very hard time putting any of that capital to work for the public good because we are in doubt that there is a public good. All kind of public works and all kinds of public services and all kinds of support are considered moral hazards, wasteful, better in the private sector. How can there be any kind of debate about the purposes of capital when the answer is always “Private is better than public?”
    All of this to say the chances of there being a new way forward with regard to finance are pretty damned small since all the incentives and all the ideology move the other way.
    If I had my druthers, though, I’d google up a list of Marxist/leftist economists and social theorists and I’d have them do something to move the dialogue forward. And I’d stay far away from the U of C! And Harvard, for that matter.

    Reply

  73. WigWag says:

    Two names that I’m sure are on everyone’s list are Paul Krugman and Joe Stiglitz both of whom have won Nobel Prizes for economics. They are both far more progressive than either Geithner or Obama but Obama might not like them because Stiglitz endorsed Hillary Clinton during the campaign and Krugman has been relentlessly critical of Obama’s economic plans.
    Two other potential choices intrigue me although I’m sure that they have no chance; Nouriel Roubini and Clyde Prestowitz.
    Roubini is widely credited with have predicted the melt-down of the past two years (to be fair, Krugman did too) and is well versed in both finance and economics.
    Prestowitz would be a bold and unusual choice. He is a free-trader but so is anyone that Obama is likely to pick. Prestowitz worked in the Reagan Administration but he endorsed John Edwards for President. Most importantly he has tremendous expertise in issues pertaining to Asia; especially China, Japan and Korea. Obviously U.S. Asian relations are already crucial to world economic affairs and the importance of these relationships is only going to grow.
    Like Krugman, Prestowitz recognizes that the inappropriate valuation of the renminbi is probably one of the single greatest causes of worldwide economic instability.
    If Obama can make Gates his Defense Secretary he should be able to make Prestowitz his Treasury Secretary.
    Of course all of this is fantasy. If Geithner goes (I don’t think he will) he will almost certainly be replaced by Summers.
    We now live in an age where the Secretary of the Treasury not only has to be acceptable to Wall Street but he probably has to be from Wall Street.
    What do they call that?
    Change you can believe in.

    Reply

  74. John Waring says:

    I nominate Paul Volcker.

    Reply

  75. Karl says:

    Dodd.
    Sounds crazy, I guess, and probably wouldn’t have a great confirmation hearing. But the Treasury Secretary needs to be someone with an understanding of finance, a good manager, an effective communicator and a savy Hill operator. I’d also like someone better on the issues than Geithner, which Dodd is.
    Bernstein would make a fine replacement for Summers, but he is in no way qualified to run Treasury.

    Reply

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