The Tim Geithner Legacy Project

January 10, 2013

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Step One in the Tim Geithner Legacy Project is complete: Barack Obama delivered a ringing endorsement of the Treasury secretary, who’ll be stepping down on January 25. Here’s the president:

“With the wreckage of our economy still smoldering and unstable, I asked Tim to help put it back together. So when the history books are written, Tim Geithner is going to go down as one of our finest Secretaries of the Treasury.”

Step Two: favorable consensus opinion. Neil Irwin writes that Geithner was “one of the most important Treasury secretaries in history” — he agrees that Geithner’s primary task was to “stop the bleeding” and that Geithner’s experience at the NY Fed made him a highly capable financial first-responder.

Joe Weisenthal pulls a chart from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis that puts Geithner’s tenure in perspective: compared to previous financial crises — and compared to other countries recovering from the current crisis — the US job market has rebounded relatively quickly. Politico joins in the praise, and includes this gem from a former colleague: “If anything, he was quite focused on the pain the country was suffering”.

Not everybody is so positive, however. Paul Krugman isn’t sad to see him go: “Geithner has consistently been a voice urging the president to cave in for fear of upsetting the markets, with no real concern for the dangers of giving in to blackmail.”

And Binyamin Appelbaum tweeted his own take on Geithner’s legacy by pointing to an August piece headlined “Cautious moves on foreclosures haunting Obama”. The administration, Appelbaum wrote, “tried to finesse the cleanup of the housing crash”, and that caution hurt economic growth. (You can read more on the Obama Treasury’s troubled housing legacy here and here.)

What’s Step Three? Geithner told Charlie Rose that he’s unlikely to write a book after leaving office, and he’s equally unlikely to want to stay in Washington as Fed chairman. So maybe he’ll just work on his jump shot for a while before taking that inevitable highly-remunerative job at BlackRock. — Ben Walsh

On to today’s links:

The whole system of corporate disclosure in the UK is broken – Paul Murphy

Deutsche reportedly made $650 million in ’08 betting on everyone’s favorite rigged interest rate – WSJ

Popular Myths
Solyndra stunk — but the green stimulus program worked – WaPo

Meet the anonymous commenter who started the trillion-dollar coin meme – Wired

It turns out that it’s actually quite hard to tell if Herbalife is (technically) a pyramid scheme – Steven Davidoff
“Have a shake, share an Aloe”: A great liveblog of the Herbalife conference – Will Alden

The myth of Africa’s rise: Growth and development aren’t the same thing – Foreign Policy
Lagos and Nairobi are the new Tokyo or Frankfurt – Economist

The Oracle
Warren Buffett personally guarantees that the banks he has personally invested in are great – Bloomberg

Americans are finding themselves legally liable for homes they didn’t know they still owned – Reuters
Why home prices will rise slower than last year – Calculated Risk

David Boies, master of groan-worthy, misleading analogies about AIG – Bloomberg

Who owns the US stock market? Households, mostly – Global Macro Monitor

“Fix the Debt” media stars lobbied for special tax breaks and subsidies for their clients – Timothy Carney

Web “media companies are having to run faster and faster just to stay in the same place” – Mathew Ingram

The Jack Lew signature generator – Yahoo

Time To Panic
The coming coffee apocalypse – The Awl

Sad But True
The end of football – Ta-Nehisi Coates

New Basel rules are a “transfer from taxpayers to bank insiders and (perhaps) stockholders” – Simon Johnson

Well Put
“Lindsay Lohan moves through the Chateau Marmont as if she owns the place, but in a debtor-prison kind of way” – NYT


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