Potential Paulson Successors #3: Tim “Because You’re Worth It” Geithner
Looking like the poster boy for a men’s skincare range, even though he’s in his late 40s, is Tim Geithner, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He’s been working alongside Paulson and Bernanke to sort out the bailout and stabilise the American economy; his job has been the unenviable task of sorting out the ugly-as-sin credit swaps market and getting people to start trading in them again. He must be quietly seething, having predicted an unregulated derivatives market would cause nothing but trouble back in 2006.
He sorted out the Bear Stearns debacle, as told by this lengthly Conde Nast Portfolio article, which, having been written back in May, now has a bittersweet tone. How innocent we were back then! Even back then he wasn’t getting much sleep, so he must be knackered now. As well as the credit swaps, he’s had to mediate in the beef between Wells Fargo and Citigroup over Wachovia, and played a major role in hashing together the AIG nationalisation plan at the last minute.
So he’s learned everything about derivatives and nationalisation the hard way, and can clearly hack the pace while still looking L’Oreal Men Expert smooth – ooh, we’re so jealous! But what of his role in an administration? He’s worked with the Clinton administration but describes himself as politically independent, and is said to not be quite as in love with regulation as Sheila Bair but certainly more of an advocate than Paulson – an uncontroversial, pragmatic stance that’s attractive to any party. Some are saying Obama will go for elder statesmen like former Fed chief Paul Volcker or Geithner’s former boss in the Clinton White House, Robert Rubin, but Geithner’s age coupled with experience dovetails well with his “change” manifesto.
As for McCain, he’ll want someone who’s tangibly different from Paulson, someone who’s prepared to accept a somewhat larger government while being apart from evil old Wall Street and not chest-beatingly Republican; someone who’ll get the job done quickly and quietly. Either way, Geithner’s prospects, like his skin, are looking wrinkle-free. Swoon!