Tim Geithner : What’s In Your Wallet?

May 22, 2009

What’s in U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s wallet? Not much.

While testifying in front of a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Capitol Hill Thursday Geithner was shown a $50 Billion Zimbabwean bank note (rendered worthless by Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation) by U.S. Representative John Culberson (R- TX) and asked if he had ever seen one himself. Geithner immediately pulled a piece of Zimbabwean currency out of his own pocket and showed it off to the committee. At the next break in the hearing I approached Geithner and asked how he happened to have a piece of foreign currency in his pocket. His response was “I often have some foreign currency in my wallet. Want to see?” He pulled a very thin and mostly empty wallet from his pocket.

Amongst many empty slots in the thin weathered leather wallet there could be seen three credit or debit cards with Visa and Mastercard logos (all inserted into the wallet upside down so that the card issuers could not be seen) and an old and yellowed looking identification card of indeterminate origin.

From inside the wallet Geithner extracted a small pile of receipts and paper including a New York City MTA farecard, pointing out that there were European Euros tucked amongst the paper.

Notably not seen in the U.S. Treasury Secretary’s wallet? Any U.S. dollars.

– Photo Credits:  Jim Bourg/Reuters  (U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner puts a piece of foreign currency back after showing off the contents of his wallet to a photographer during a break in his congressional testimony in Washington, May 21, 2009.)


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Wow, Republicans are so predictable. Geithner saw that one coming from miles away.

Posted by Brett | Report as abusive

Yes, Geithner saw that coming, but does that make the reality of what happens when you print billions of dollars out of thin air any less real? Hyperinflation isn’t something we know in the US today; but we’re not just pointed — we’re headed — in that direction right now.

Posted by Matt Richmond | Report as abusive

How long before Geithner is shown a $50 Billion US bank note.

Posted by Nikkei 225 | Report as abusive

Why would he need any U.S. dollars? It’s not like he has federal taxes to pay or anything…

Posted by angelino | Report as abusive

I picked up a couple $100 billion Zimbabwe notes on ebay for something like $13 USD a couple months ago. I laughed so hard I had to own them.

Posted by dez | Report as abusive

All this shows is that one senator and the secretary have unknowingly invested in a nest egg for the future when we’re all fighting to get our hands on hard currency that is more stable than the Dollar.

Maybe the Zimbabwean Dollar will stabilize and pass the falling U.S. Dollar on its way back up, and their now worthless conversation piece will even be able to buy a foreclosed home.

Posted by Brian Foulkrod | Report as abusive

Of course he would have a $50 Billion Zimbabwean bank note in his wallet. Smart investment! It will be worth 10X as the current value in a couple of years. Buy low and sell high!

Posted by DBM | Report as abusive

I recall, back in the mid 1950s, the French were pulling denominations (their francs) out of their pockets the size of bedsheets. For convenience, they decided to convert their money to new denominations 5 Old.Francs recalled for 1 New.F. issued. Now, we are seeing astronomical U.S. numbers entering our money stream. $25,000 for average car,($2,500 in 1950) $300,000 for average house ($30,000 in 1950)–just crazy numbers which have little meaning as to actual intrinsic values. Maybe, it’s about time we adjust our money supply to reflect real values, too!!! 10 to 1 would be a good recall place to start, $ 1,000 real issued for every $10,000 (trash) bucks recalled.

Posted by paul leone | Report as abusive

Want to fix the real problem which is job creation without adding to the burden of government and employers??
Have all current employees take a 10% pay cut and use this to hire the equivalent of unemployed workers at the same companies…in other words microsoft hires 10% more workers using the paycut. That should bring the economy up immediately because more people have jobs and money to spend compared to having fewer and fewer jobs with less or no money to spend. Since companies are already skinned to their bare minimum when it comes to employees we cannot expect more lay-offs. The people needs to help themselves rather than wait for the government to do so because the government got it all wrong most of the time because they are too busy helping financial institutions who are the culprits and barely hires anyone..to the contrary they continue to lay off people as we talk.
The economy will turn around when people have jobs and security…the companies need the consumer to spend first before they hire..how is this chicken and egg going to happen?? People help yourself with a little sacrifice which both in the short and long term will reap enormous benefits beyond anything else that anyone out there can do…after all, once confidence returns everything will take care of itself…

Posted by alim | Report as abusive


Great idea, you go first and offer 10% of your salary (and benefits too) back to your employer. Your idea might work if most folks weren’t already over-extended. We are simply reaping what we have sown with too much credit and instead of letting the system work (holding people, companies, and politicians accountable for overspending) we are simply “drinking ourselves sober”. I fear one of two outcomes: hyper-inflation or huge devaluation of US “dollars” and assets. Whether you call it leverage or gearing, we have lived beyond our means for too long.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

Alim, your idea is not so far-fetched, it is happening now but via more circuitous routes than the direct route you’ve described, and on very smaller scales. Debt Unwind / Deleveraging will keep relentless, perhaps fatal, pressure on our 25-yr experiment of operating a massive 300+million person economy on a GDP that is 70% driven by debt-enabled consumer spending & shopping. Debt Unwind destroys the ability of the consumer to spend, that drives down demand, which drives up joblessness. These factors then threaten the capacity of the private sector and households to service their existing debts, which along with deflation’s take-down of the value of the debt’s collateral, then weakens banks.
Repeat cycle until GDP model collapses.
A new GDP model involving a greater focus on jobs and earned income, and less focus on credit is needed. Alim, ur scheme is admittedly not the best, but it is one of many that we may be involuntarily delivered to, as a nation, by the powerful current of Debt Unwind.

John, why do u only fear one of two outcomes: hyper-inflation or huge devaluation? I think the odds are increasing monthly that the path to either will first encounter an undeclared yet defacto sovereign default by the US that’s likely preceded by defacto sovereign defaults by the UK and other key economies. The private sector within each will also face a cascade of defacto defaults; all will be disguised as “debt restructurings efforts”. Consider the psychological impact of this on the ‘belief’ system under-pinning not just the (illusions about the) dollar but also key features of ‘free enterprise’ and ‘modern capitalism’. And oh yes, then hyper-inflation and/or devaluation may follow as a consequence…just as that annoying hair loss is a consequence of cancer treatments.

This could take 5, 7 or 11 years to run its course, depending on what emerges from the financial alchemy of Bernanke/Geithner/Blair and their collective sorcery and equivalences of ‘spell-casting’ on global markets.

Posted by Greg in NC | Report as abusive

Alim, this is just one of many news reports that verify that ur suggestion is already occurring.

The New Math: Teachers Share Recession’s Pain
By WINNIE HU NYT.com May 24, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/24/educat ion/24teachers.html?_r=1&hp

“…Now similar givebacks are spreading to education, an industry once deemed to be recession-proof.
All 95 teachers and five administrators in the Tuckahoe school district in Westchester County agreed to give $1,000 each to next year’s school budget

In the Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow district, 80 percent of the 500 school employees — including teachers, clerks, custodians and bus drivers — have pledged more than $150,000 from their own pockets to help close a $300,000 budget gap.”

Posted by Greg in NC | Report as abusive

People want to do the right thing. It is those in power who take advantage of that.
+++++In the Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow district, 80 percent of the 500 school employees — including teachers, clerks, custodians and bus drivers — have pledged more than $150,000 from their own pockets to help close a $300,000 budget gap.”+++++++++++++++
I bet the 20% were alot of adminstators and the State teachers union bosses. They should cut those positions by 50% first.
As far as Tim G. is concerned. He is not trustworthy. The point about no US currency was right on. He does not depend on a stable dollar. Look closely and you will se he is hedged against a dollar fall. Unlike the 300M Americans who he is supposed to protect.

Posted by Mike Austin,TX | Report as abusive

Tiny Tim the Bilderberger also told the CFR he was “actually very open” to the Chinese central banker’s proposal of a new global reserve currency.

He’s doing a great job of continuing the destruction of America, isn’t he? I am sure his globalist masters are quite proud of him.

The dollar’s pretty much the last thing the U.S. economy has going for it and the Fed is making sure we won’t have that for too much longer.

Something tells me Timmy has some gold stored away somewhere…perhaps we should do the same.

Posted by Andrew86 | Report as abusive

he should have a pink slip in his wallet,his boss obama said that if they passed geithner,s 780 billion spend plan unemployment would be 7.6%in april.but if they did not, employment could reach 8.6%.GUESS WHAT?the bill was passed and unemployment reached 8.9%,and it is still rising.it is going to be difficult for them to maintain their popularity,if unemployment goes above the 12% which is forecast.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

If you cut pay by 10%, you don’t give the economy a boost, you merely allow more to get by on less.

That means not just the unemployed, but *all* consumers will have *less* expendable income. If “common wisdom” says giving somebody an extra $30 a month in tax breaks means they can now buy a new car, I suppose cutting wages would magically generate more sales?

Only way people will buy more under those terms (simple math) is one of two ways:

*A corresponding rate of deflation, which is a kiss of death.
*Let people return to getting credit cards in their dog’s name like the “good old days”.

Posted by Brian Foulkrod | Report as abusive

sneakers faq

Posted by xlsm11 | Report as abusive

Tim, why couldn’t you just say you carry Zimbabwean money around because you care about that country… YOU LOVED THERE! I am saddened by the politicians inability to say anything that would associate him/her to failing or rogue states. You were a kid! Just own your history!

Posted by zolaresearcher | Report as abusive