“Sometimes it’s good to do these things in person,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said after meeting with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble to discuss what to do about Europe’s debt crisis.
But it’s not easy pulling off a 72-hour, five-city blitz of European officials to proffer advice and some discreet prodding. It involves crossing the Atlantic Ocean twice and darting between Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, Marseille and Milan, holding eight face-to-face meetings and three media sessions, as well as speaking with heads of state, finance ministers and central bankers.
Of course you need your own plane. Not a problem for the U.S. Treasury chief, who regularly has a blue-and-white military 737 at his disposal.
But the narrow, traffic-choked streets of European capitals and business centers could easily throw the schedule off. Geithner has far less influence over European drivers than he does over finance ministers.
The solution? Two words: motorcycle cops.
Escorting Geithner’s motorcades from airports to city center finance ministries and presidential palaces in Germany and France – and back again sometimes in the space of two hours – these fearless ninja riders fanned out across expressway lanes to block cars to let the motorcade pass quickly . When it did, they would scream to the front of the vehicle train on their BMW bikes and do it all over again.