Monday, February 1, 2010


This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

OK, you can ask for a video replay on this one, but I think U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner did a superb job talking back to the congressmen on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearings on the controversial bailout of mega-insurer AIG. Democrats and Republicans alike piled on the questions and accusations to make it clear – in an election year, of course – that they were more outraged than anybody else by so many taxpayer dollars going to so few filthy rich people. And they had Geithner, who in his previous job as head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, was instrumental in the AIG save, firmly in their sights. But for once, Geithner came across as reasoned, single-minded and consistent in his own defence, and in defence of the Obama administration’s response to the crisis on Wall Street. To quote: “If you are outraged by AIG – and you should be – then you should be deeply committed to financial reform that will protect taxpayers and the economy from excessive risk-taking by financial institutions.” Rather crafty, that. This steady performance was something of a surprise. In his televised debut address last February, Geithner tried to explain the government’s plan to clean up the banks, and he came across as unconvincing – almost as if he didn’t understand the plan himself. It was such a bad performance that the stock markets tanked the next day. This time around, Geithner was the strong, even courageous regulatory official – OK, that doesn’t sound exactly inspiring, but you know what I mean – that Obama made him out to be when he got the nod at Treasury. Anyway, I’ll admit that Geithner’s bravado might not be enough to save his job over the long run. But it should at least earn him some respect.

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