February 16, 2011

This is your Geithner on drugs

The New Republic has a long profile on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Most of the article shows us he has inside-the-Beltway political chops unimaginable two years ago.

The last page shows he's inside-the-Beltway in other ways.

This is your Treasury Secretary on D.C. Village drugs, the drugs of self-infatuation:
Geithner hunched his shoulders, pressed his knees together, and lifted his heels up off the ground—an almost childlike expression of glee. “We’re going, like, existential,” he said. He told me he subscribes to the view that the world is on the cusp of a major “financial deepening”: As developing economies in the most populous countries mature, they will demand more and increasingly sophisticated financial services, the same way they demand cars for their growing middle classes and information technology for their corporations. If that’s true, then we should want U.S. banks positioned to compete abroad.

“I don’t have any enthusiasm for ... trying to shrink the relative importance of the financial system in our economy as a test of reform, because we have to think about the fact that we operate in the broader world,” he said. “It’s the same thing for Microsoft or anything else. We want U.S. firms to benefit from that.” He continued: “Now financial firms are different because of the risk, but you can contain that through regulation.” This was the purpose of the recent financial reform, he said. In effect, Geithner was arguing that we should be as comfortable linking the fate of our economy to Wall Street as to automakers or Silicon Valley.

One can disagree with this substantively. Financial reform is a good start, with its stricter rules and new authority for regulators. But whether Wall Street can be made to behave like a normal industry rather than a source of economy-wide instability remains very much open to debate.

Sounds like Little Timmy G. has gone a mix of New Age and messianic guru there.

Even inside the Village, there's limits on reading your own press clippings, dude.

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