Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tim Geither for Treasury Secretary.... Now?

Yesterday Gail Collins had a column suggesting that the time has come for President Bush to step aside and Obama to take his place. Now, I've loved Gail's writing since her salad days at the Hartford Advocate, but I'm never sure to what extent she is serious (10%? 80%?). I was going to respond with a completely serious suggestion that Tim Geithner become Treasury secretary now. However, I see that Tom Friedman got there first.

I don't have much to add to Friedman's column, except to suggest that we all gaze again at this chart of the Dow's action on Friday.

Note how the market rallied at precisely 3 p,m., which was when Geithner's appointment first was announced on NBC. It was the usual crappy day in the market, beginning with a rally that fizzled, after two straight days of horror. Then the market got word that Geithner was named Treasury secretary and the market shot up.

I don't think the reason this happened has as much to do with Geithner as it does with the fact that the market wants something, anything, to indicate that someone is taking charge of this puking economy.

Clearly the markets have lost every shred of confidence in this administration and, in particular, this Treasury secretary. Replacing Bush right now is not a terrible idea, but it's not happening. Replacing Hank Paulson isn't happening either, but it is closer to being something other than a fantasy. The country needs a change in economic leadership. Now.

By the way, isn't this ironic? A former CEO of Goldman Sachs is unable to inspire Wall Street, while a lifelong bureaucrat and policy wonk is able to pull it off.

© 2008 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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