from Follow the Money

A new economic team

November 23, 2008

Blog Post
Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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As Calculated Risk notes, before moving to New York I worked for Mr. Geithner at both the Treasury and the IMF. Mr. Geithner was, by the end of the 1990s, in charge of Treasury’s International Affairs division, so almost everyone who worked there -- Tim Duy and Nouriel Roubini to name two -- also worked for Mr. Geithner. At the IMF, Mr. Geithner encouraged the IMF to pay more attention to balance sheet vulnerabilities -- and helped to push a paper I worked on with a group of talented young IMF economists through the IMF’s internal review process.

It consequently is no surprise that I am thrilled that Mr. Geithner looks to be Obama’s choice for Treasury Secretary. I am also pleased that President-Elect Obama also found a way to pull Dr. Summers -- a voracious consumer of economic and financial analysis, including economic and financial blogs -- into the administration. The current, severe crisis will provide plenty of work for both. Like Noam Scheiber, I hope that the combination of Dr. Summers’ intellectual creativity and Mr. Geithner’s disciplined analysis and political acumen proves fruitful.

I also suspect that Felix is right. The immediate challenge facing Mr. Geithner and Dr. Summers is finding a way to contain the current financial and economic crisis. Citi is a case in point. But once we emerge from the current crisis, the Treasury and Fed will need to build global consensus on how to regulate too-big-to-fail international banks -- one that balances the world’s need for a banking system that lends with the need for banking system that doesn’t take on too much risk in good times, leaving taxpayers with the bill in bad times.

I know from experience that Mr. Geithner puts a great deal of effort into his (relatively infrequent) speeches. Those looking for insight into Mr. Geithner’s world view could do far worse than to start by picking out a few of his major policy addresses over the past few years and tracing the evolution of his thinking.

Back when I worked for Nouriel I often posted detailed commentary on Mr. Geithner’s speeches.

On financial regulation try: Things that keep the President of the New York Fed up at night as well as Felix’s comments on Geithner’s post-Bear testimony.

On external adjustment try: What Geithner said, and then some; Geithner states the obvious and "Substantial accumulation of dollar reserves masks the impact of deficits."

My guess is that we will soon be bearing more about the need to build better shock absorbers into the structure of our financial system.

NOTE: EDITED. I initially jumped the gun and referred to President-Elect Obama as President Obama.

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