March 24, 2009
Simon Johnson is a professor at MIT Sloan School of Management and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He is co-founder of the global economy website, BaselineScenario.com. The administration’s media rollout of the Geithner Plan was as meticulously coordinated as a Super Bowl Sunday. In future courses for doctors of spin, there will be a special session on the administration's dogged attempt to get everyone together and work every segment of its increasingly fragmented viewership.
The Wall Street Journal has a thorough dissection of the Obama Administration's recent walk-back from its aggressive anti-Wall Street stance. Now, part of me wants to throttle the guy who said this--"The Obama folks don't even like us"--and scream "Are you kidding!?! Did you listen to a word Geithner said yesterday? We're giving you billions in free money!" But then I compose myself and realize that, to be fair, these are guys who lived through eight years of Bush, preceded by eight years of Clinton, preceded by...you get the point. They're used to being coddled, even in a recession.
Early yesterday evening the White House announced it was nominating Neal Wolin to be Geithner's deputy at Treasury. This is interesting for a couple reasons--the first being that, as the announcement noted, Wolin already had an administration job: He was deputy White House counsel with jurisdiction over economic matters. I guess once you've been through two candidates for a position as high-profile as deputy Treasury secretary you're willing to juggle the organizational chart a bit. Also interesting is the fact that Wolin is a close friend of Larry Summers.
Choreographing The Geithner Rollout
The Times has some interesting detail on the rollout: With selective leaks to the media for the last several days, the administration had time to explain the complexities in advance, preparing the financial markets over the weekend for what was coming. Mr. Geithner and other administration officials spent days briefing crucial people on Wall Street and working to line up endorsements from prominent equity fund managers and other private-sector “validators,” in particular two leading global investment management firms, BlackRock and Pimco. In a White House meeting late last week, Mr.
Today At Tnr (march 24, 2009)
The Shah of Venezuela: Why We Have To Take Hugo Chavez Seriously, by Enrique Krauze How Geithner's Bank Plan Could Actually Work, by Noam Scheiber Cap And Fade: The Administration's Little-Discussed Environmental Bind, by William Galston Is The NAACP's Relevance Fading? We Think Not. by Julian Bond and Benjamin Todd Jealous How Much Should Progressives Be Willing To Compromise On Health Care Reform? by Harold Pollack The Geithner Disaster: How The Treasury Secretary Is Undermining Obama's Entire Economic Agenda, by John B.
March 23, 2009
No Retreat, No Surrender
WASHINGTON--President Obama's biggest task at his news conference on Tuesday will not be to defend Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner or to push aside the administration's bungling of the AIG bonus imbroglio. It will be to challenge Washington's habit of evading substantive issues by transforming them into procedural questions. A deep narrative is taking root in the political class, and it goes something like this: Obama is biting off way more than he can chew, "overloading" the system and dealing with all sorts of "side issues," when he should be focusing solely on the broken economy.
Harold Pollack is a public health policy researcher at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, where he is faculty chair of the Center for Health Administration Studies. He is a regular contributor to The Treatment. As the 2009 health reform debate heats up, the proposed public healthcare plan has become the main fault-line among center-left policy wonks, all of whom favor health reform but who don't always agree about about what reform really should be.
What to make of the Treasury Department's latest bid to save the banks? We asked Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard professor and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, for his thoughts. I'm still digesting the plan, and I think it looks pretty much like what they discussed a couple weeks ago. It's a piece of the larger set of initiatives, all of which aren't enough to get credit flowing again. The whole administration strategy seems to involve shoveling money to the financial system in the most opaque way possible.
I'm not really sure what to think about the new Treasury plan. But I do know that the fact that the stock market rallied upon its announcement is not proof that it's a good plan, just as the market drop was not proof that the last iteration of the plan was bad. I made this point in my TRB column: Stock prices represent the market's guess at the profitability of corporations. While that's related to the health of the overall economy, it's not the same thing, and sometimes the two diverge sharply.
No Special Envoy, No Crisis
"Burn me. Don't treat me like this.