Ph.D. Octopus

Politics, media, music, capitalism, scholarship, and ephemera since 2010

The Chutzpah of Timothy Geithner

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by Weiner

I remember when Obama first announced Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary, American Jews were all atwitter. Another Jew achieves prominence! The problem is, like O.J. Simpson, Geithner is not a Jew. Also, like O.J. Simpson, Geithner has a lot of chutzpah. And not the good kind.

This irksome New Yorker profile focuses far too much on the “good news about the financial system.” It also has this incredible quote from Timmy:

My basic view is that we did a pretty successful job of putting out a severe financial crisis and avoiding a Great Depression or Great Deflation type of thing…. We saved the economy, but we kind of lost the public doing it.

Excuse me?

The article’s author, John Cassidy, notes:

The unemployment rate remains stubbornly high—the rise in long-term joblessness is particularly worrying—but other economic trends are pointing up. Although some businesses are struggling to get bank financing, municipalities, car buyers, and students again have access to credit. Consumption and exports are rising. Corporations are once more spending money on software and machinery. Meanwhile, it looks as though the Senate may be finally preparing to vote on an overhaul of financial regulation.

I’m sorry, but I don’t quite think that he’s worried enough about the jobs problem. It kind of puts all those other things to shame. He claims that a ‘”jobless recovery’ is nonetheless a recovery of sorts.” That may be, and perhaps it’s better than nothing, but it’s not really good work either. Nothing to pat yourself on the ass about. Also, I thought part of the point of the bailout was not only to help the economy recover (not clear how much of that has been accomplished) but also to institute real financial reform, to prevent this from happening again. That’s why some economists argued for nationalization, not just to save the economy now, but to save it later too. Even if Geithner is mistakenly regarded as some kind of financial hero, he won’t be a hero if the economy collapses yet again.

wotty adds: I agree; deeply irk-inducing. Oddly, The Atlantic published its own profile of the gentile Timmy – “Inside Man” – at about the same time. It is far more intelligent and sharp-elbowed.


Written by David Weinfeld

March 18, 2010 at 22:16

Posted in capitalism, economics

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