Broad Support for Geithner Pick as Treasury Chief

By Kaper, Stacy; Hopkins, Cheyenne | American Banker, November 24, 2008 | Go to article overview

Broad Support for Geithner Pick as Treasury Chief


Kaper, Stacy, Hopkins, Cheyenne, American Banker


Byline: Stacy Kaper and Cheyenne Hopkins

WASHINGTON - The expected choice of Timothy Geithner as the next Treasury secretary won rare unanimity from industry participants last week, with free-market conservatives, policy wonks, and consumer activists praising the selection.

They cited his five-year tenure as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, his direct style in dealing with Congress, and the key role he has already played in the government's reaction to the financial crisis.

"He's a very strong choice for some very specific reasons," said Randal Quarles, managing partner of Carlyle Group and a former Treasury undersecretary in the Bush administration. "He has a wealth of experience at the Treasury and Federal Reserve. He's been intimately involved in dealing with the financial crisis. And before the financial crisis he was very thoughtful and involved in trying to reduce some specific risks in the system."

Wall Street was clearly pleased by the news. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped more than 500 points after rumors of Mr. Geithner's appointment surfaced Friday.

Peter Wallison, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a Treasury official in the Reagan administration, said Mr. Geithner met the most important qualification for a Treasury secretary: understanding the markets.

"Tim Geithner has been immersed in the financial markets in more than an academic sense for many years, and should bring as much necessary understanding to the job as anyone," Mr. Wallison said. "My only concern is that he is young and has grown up in a bureaucratic environment in which political superiors called the shots. If he's going to be effective, he has to have the strength of personality to be an independent voice, in a way he has not been in the past."

Despite Mr. Geithner's key role in the government's rescue plans to date, consumer groups said they think the New York Fed official understands the importance of preventing more foreclosures - a key item they argue is needed to stem fallout in the economy.

"We think it's an excellent choice," said Mike Calhoun the president of the Center for Responsible Lending. "Based on what we know, we think he'll make keeping homeowners in their homes a priority."

Sources said President-elect Barack Obama could name Mr. Geithner as his nominee as early as today.

Though the majority of observers said Mr.

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