News services reported today that Tim Geithner, currently President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, was President-elect Obama’s choice to be Secretary of the Treasury. The markets reacted very positively to the news. This presumably captures both relief that some policy uncertainty has been resolved at this critical juncture and approval that Geithner is the man chosen. I share the pleasure at this appointment.
Tim Geithner is refreshingly straightforward and personable, and doesn’t “stand on ceremony.” At the same time, he is cool and unflappable. By coincidence, the Economic Advisory Panel to the NY Fed President, of which I am a member, met today. Unusually, Geithner excused himself at two points in the four-hour meeting to take short phone calls. Given the timing, it seems very likely that one of the phone calls was Senator Obama offering him the Treasury position. These Panel meetings are off the record, but I think I am not betraying any confidences to report that Geithner betrayed no sign to us of what had just happened. No change in demeanor, no change in the substantive flow of the discussion. This is a guy who does not lose his cool. Just what the country needs.