As President-elect Barack Obama turns his focus today to the economy, there are growing indications from Wall Street executives and financial services officials with ties to the Bush administration that they would prefer a treasury secretary who is "fluent" in the $700 billion bailout plan now being implemented.
The choice among those people is New York Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Timothy Geithner, the Democrat who teamed with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to draw up and put the plan in place. "What the Obama team seems to want are people who are fluent with the plan because they need a say in it," said a key source close to treasury and the financial industry.
At issue are the efforts at treasury to begin implementing the bailout right as the Obama team comes on board in January. "The administration would like them to have a role in planning it because it makes no sense to just rip it up when they come in," said the official.
Since he helped draw it up, Geithner has a deep understanding of the causes of the financial crisis and what the administration is doing to fix it, the insiders said.
As a result, the financial industry would like Geithner to be named soon to replace Paulson and for Geithner to quickly draw up a team that can shadow Paulson's group as the bailout is put into place.
The industry had been led to believe that Obama would pick a treasury secretary by today, but the campaign issued a memo this morning that said no personnel announcements would be made today. The president-elect planned to meet with his transition economic advisory board, the statement said.
At the meeting were two others under consideration for the treasury job, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and Paul Volcker, a former Fed chairman.
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