Who should replace Ben S. Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve when his term ends in January 2014? If anyone cared to ask us, we’d say no one: we like our Fed Chairman soft-spoken, bearded, and just as comfortable in dad jeans as they are in their bespoke Jos. A. Bank suits. But nobody asked and, according to Andrew Ross Sorkin, Bernanke has told “close friends” that regardless of whether or not Obama wins a second term, he’s ready to move on. Apparently qualified successors are few and far between and while Larry Summers is said to be “at the top of the list,” the fact that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner may finally be granted freedom from his own personal Guantanamo Bay and will also necessitate a replacement who will have to work closely with the new Fed Chair poses some staffing issues, on account of the perception that Summers is somewhat difficult to work with. Read more »
“President Barack Obama’s senior advisers are confident Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner will remain in his job even though he hasn’t made his intentions public, an administration official said. Geithner met recently with Vice President Joe Biden and laid out his reasons for wanting to leave the post. Biden outlined why it was vital that Geithner remain, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made.”-Bloomberg, August 5, 2011
“Mr. Obama and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, have been urging Mr. Geithner to stay, administration officials say, not only for continuity when the economy has weakened and to avoid an all-but-certain confirmation fight in the Senate over a successor, but also because Mr. Obama has developed a close rapport with Mr. Geithner…Especially in recent weeks, the issue has become a running joke, officials say: Mr. Geithner and Mr. Daley tease about the ankle bracelet that the White House makes him wear, or Mr. Geithner asks if Mr. Daley has yet read his resignation letter, to which Mr. Daley answers in unprintable language.”- New York Times, August 3, 2011 Read more »
Tim Geithner Dealt With Libor Manipulation By Writing Strongly Worded Letters And Then Lending Billions Of Dollars At Libor-Based RatesBy Matt Levine
Tim Geithner had a nice chat with Congress about Libor in a theoretically unrelated hearing today, and since Congressional hearings are mostly about restating everyone’s pre-existing prejudices I figured I’d lay out my Libor hobbyhorses:
- Nobody really has ever been all that troubled by the fact that banks manipulated Libor to make themselves look like they could borrow in 2007-2008, while everyone is at least acting all shocked shocked that banks manipulated Libor to juice derivatives profits, but that contrast is awkward because in a certain light those are the same activity, so everyone has to look all horrified by stuff they were obviously cool with four years ago.
- Everybody knew that banks understated Libor in 2007-2008. Like, you could compare Libor to market borrowing rates and CDS and stuff, and people did, and noticed it was wrong. Also remember that Barclays, while they were manipulating Libor, were also emailing all their clients every day to remind them that Libor was being manipulated.
- The effect/harm/liability of Libor manipulation has to be determined in expectation and if everyone knew it was being manipulated then they were presumably charging a higher spread to Libor when dealing with banks.
Geithner’s testimony won’t change my mind: now he has to look all grim about Libor manipulation, while back in the day he “treated it as a curiosity, or something akin to jaywalking, as opposed to highway robbery.”
Like a knife
Tim Geithner Appeared To Consider ‘Beating The Living Shit Out Of’ TARP Inspector General Neil Barofsky, Choose To Slay Him With Dramatic Hand Gestures InsteadBy Bess Levin
Barofsky met with Geithner in the fall of 2009 to express his concern that the Treasury Department had made TARP unpopular by not being fully forthcoming about how TARP was being used, including not forcing banks disclose how they were spending TARP funds. Geithner got dramatic, [Barofksy writes in his new book, Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street and said] ‘Neil, you think I don’t hear those criticisms? I hear them. And each one, they cut me,’ he said, pausing and then making an emphatic cutting motion with one hand as he said ‘like a knife.'” After a Geithner subordinate in the room, Herb Allison, expressed personal offense at Barofsky’s suggestion that Geithner has not been fully transparent, Barofsky responded, “I am not suggesting that the secretary has failed in transparency, I am stating it. Mr. Secretary, you’ve failed to be sufficiently transparent, and that is one of the reasons why people are so angry. But you can still fix it.” And that’s when the ticking time bomb that was Geithner erupted, telling Barofsky: ‘No one has ever made the banks disclose the type of shit that I made them disclose after the stress tests. No one! And now you’re saying that I haven’t been fucking transparent?’ Cooler heads prevailed, and the meeting went on, but Geithner never really came fully off the boil. “As we parried back and forth, Geithner repeatedly reached a pitch of anger, regaling me with detailed expletive-filled explanations that established my apparent idiocy. He would then calm himself down and give me a forced, almost demonic smile.” After the meeting was over, Barofsky and his deputy, Kevin Puvalowski, had a big laugh about it. ‘In all honesty, I think he was about to come out of his chair and beat the living shit out of you,’ Puvalowski remarked. [HuffPo]
Post LiborGate, Area Investment Advisor Doesn’t Think He’s Being Extreme In Suggesting We Relaunch The Revolutionary WarBy Bess Levin
As long ago as June 2008, New York Federal Reserve President Timothy F. Geithner was warning the Bank of England that letting bankers set the benchmark interest rate for global finance was open to abuse. Governor Mervyn King’s failure then to take greater responsibility for Libor now poses a new threat to London’s drive to rival New York in the battle for a larger share of a shrinking international financial industry. “As a company, we now avoid London,” said David Kotok, who manages about $2 billion as chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors Inc. in Sarasota, Florida. “It’s tarnished. Passing the buck to others, shirking responsibility and avoiding accountability characterizes the people at work there.” [Bloomberg via Heidi Moore]
How will you be spending your weekend? I know what I’ll be doing, which is reading all the Lehman bankruptcy documents. They’ve been online for a week or two and we’ve had some teasers today, covering how much all the big fish got paid and how much all the medium-sized fish in IBD got paid. Naturally those were the first things anyone noticed because, y’know, money. And money is important. But this industry isn’t just about money. It’s also about hope: