Who will Obama pick for Treasury Secretary?

November 5, 2008 7:13:44 PM PST
President-elect Barack Obama's choice for Treasury secretary is highly anticipated. With the economy in turmoil, it's believed to be one of the most significant decisions he'll make, and many are urging him to look beyond the insiders.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) of California, expects the Treasury post to be one of the first to be named because of the urgency. She also hopes President-elect Obama will consider picking an outsider -- someone who is not from Wall Street.

"They've moved toward certain instruments which I think need regulation and the culture will fight. Therefore, I think we need a Secretary from outside of the culture that's going to understand that we need prudent regulation," said Senator Feinstein.

Others, such as Professor James Wilcox Ph.D., at the Haas School of Business, also wants to see some bold moves.

"This would be a good time for some somewhat bolder, fresher looks," said Wilcox.

Yet speculation centers on mostly veterans, some dating back to the Clinton administration. For example, possible candidates include two former Treasury Secretaries Lawrence Summers, who then served five years as President of Harvard and Robert Rubin, who spent 26 years on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs. Tim Geithner, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Paul Volcker, a former Federal Reserve Chairman and James Dimon, Chairman and CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, are other options as well.

Professor Wilcox, who was economist for the President's Council of Economic Advisers, thinks the Obama transition team will cast a wider net for nominees.

"The next administration is really likely to look for some fresh, newer faces. It's not likely to want to be recycling some of the names that were so familiar during the Clinton Administration," said Wilcox.

Possible proof of that is speculation that former State Controller and former eBay executive, Steve Westly is on a short list for Energy Secretary.

Will the new economic team have a chance to shadow current Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson during the transition? One clue came Wednesday. The president-elect will not be attending the Global Economic Conference at the White House next week.


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