Sunday, March 8, 2009

Geithner Goes It Alone

Annette Nazareth, a former senior staffer and commissioner with the SEC, has withdrawn from consideration as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's chief deputy. Although Nazareth has undergone more than a month of intense vetting, Geithner's choice of Nazareth was never announced officially. She has drawn criticism for her role at the SEC in creating what some consider to be lax oversight of the banking industry.

In the midst of the banking crisis, Geithner has been staffing his department slowly, resulting in uncertainty about the Treasury staff and unnerving financial markets. He has yet to name even one of his 17 top deputies. Treasury has to name about 100 appointees in all. Geithner has assembled a 50-person "shadow cabinet", but they lack any authority to make decisions or represent the departments in meetings.

At a Senate hearing last Thursday about American International Group Inc., which has received bailouts totaling more than $170 billion, Senator Chris Dodd said that he asked Treasury for someone to appear, but no one was available. Dodd said "I am not pleased that we don't have someone here from Treasury to explain what their role in this is."

Geithner's inability to assemble a team and his missteps in putting together a financial rescue program have raised concerns on Wall Street. "This doesn't help confidence," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's in New York. " Geithner is stuck there all my himself trying to do everything. They don't have anybody confirmed, and Treasury is a big shop to try to run with one person, especially right now."

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