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November 28, 08

NEWS / President-elect Obama Announces Top Economic Advisers Treasury Secretary-designate Geithner would o

By Stephen Kaufman
Staff Writer

Washington — Responding to what he describes as “an economic crisis of historic proportions,” President-elect Barack Obama announced key members of his economic team, including Timothy Geithner as secretary of the treasury, his first official Cabinet nomination.

Speaking in Chicago November 24 with Vice President-elect Joe Biden, Obama said he has also asked former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers to head the National Economic Council, Christina Romer to chair the Council of Economic Advisors and Melody Barnes to serve as director of the Domestic Policy Council.

“I’ve sought leaders who could offer both sound judgment and fresh thinking, both a depth of experience and a wealth of bold new ideas — and most of all, who share my fundamental belief that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street without a thriving Main Street, that in this country, we rise and fall as one nation, as one people,” Obama said.

In turning to Geithner to oversee the financial security of the United States in a time of turmoil, Obama chose a treasury secretary who has already been closely involved with many of the key decisions in the Bush administration’s response to the crisis. As head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Geithner has been the Federal Reserve’s main liaison with Wall Street and supervised the government’s takeover of American International Group and its assistance in the acquisition of Bear Stearns by JPMorgan Chase. The Federal Reserve is the U.S. central bank.

The Treasury secretary-designate also helped manage the U.S. response to the Asian financial crisis while serving as assistant secretary of the treasury for international affairs from 1998 to 2001.

“The economic crisis we face is no longer just an American crisis, it’s a global crisis, and we will need to reach out to countries around the world to craft a global response. Tim’s extensive international experience makes him uniquely suited to do that work,” Obama said.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Geithner has an academic background both in economics and East Asian studies. He attended high school in Thailand and also lived in present-day Zimbabwe, India and China.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Geithner will be in charge of managing federal finances; collecting taxes; producing coinage and currency; managing the public debt; advising on domestic and international monetary policy; and investigating and prosecuting tax evaders, counterfeiters and forgers.

During the period of the Asian financial crisis, Geithner worked closely with Lawrence Summers, who has been appointed by Obama to be his top economic adviser at the White House as head of the National Economic Council.

Summers was treasury secretary from 1999 to 2001. Before joining the Clinton administration, he taught economics at Harvard University. He has also been a member of Obama’s transition economic advisory board. (See “President-elect Obama Planning Response to Economic Crisis.”)

Obama described Summers as “one of the great economic minds of our time” who has “earned a global reputation for being able to cut to the heart of the most complex and novel policy challenges.”

As head of the National Economics Council, Summers will coordinate policymaking for domestic and international economic issues, coordinate economic policy advice for the president, assure that policy decisions are consistent with the president’s goals and monitor policy implementation.

Christina Romer, who will serve as chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisors, will also be providing the Obama administration with economic policy recommendations. The council prepares the annual Economic Report of the President. Romer, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has “done groundbreaking research on many of the topics our administration will confront, from tax policy to fighting recessions,” Obama said.

As director of the Domestic Policy Council, Melody Barnes will also focus on economic policy matters including education, health care, energy and Social Security, Obama said. Barnes, who was an executive vice president at the Center for American Progress before joining the Obama-Biden transition team, “will be working hand-in-hand with my economic policy team to chart a course to economic recovery.”

Geithner and Romer will require U.S. Senate confirmation, but Summers and Barnes will not since their positions are part of the Executive Office of the President.



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