Saturday, March 07, 2009
Lights On At Treasury But Nobody Home
Treasury is off to a slow, slow start, well behind the race.
And another potential employee for Treasury has backed out of working for Timmy Tax Cheat and Barack Hussein Pbama, Junior.
The person Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wanted as his chief deputy withdrew from consideration Thursday, dealing a setback to the understaffed agency as it struggles to address the worst financial crisis in decades.
Annette Nazareth, a former senior staffer and commissioner with the Securities and Exchange Commission, made "a personal decision" to withdraw from the process, according to a person familiar with her decision.
The decision followed more than a month of intense scrutiny of her taxes and multiple interviews. No tax problems or other issues arose during Nazareth's vetting, said the person, who requested anonymity because Geithner's choice of Nazareth was never announced officially.
Geithner has been criticized for staffing his department too slowly as it grapples with a banking crisis that has crippled the economy. Uncertainty about Treasury staff also has unnerved financial markets.
Five weeks into his tenure, he has yet to name a single top deputy or assistant secretary.This has left Treasury with too few people authorized to make decisions or represent the department in meetings with stakeholders.
At a Senate hearing Thursday about failed insurance giant American International Group Inc.-- which has received four separate bailouts totaling more than $170 billion -- Sen. Chris Dodd said he had asked Treasury for someone to appear, but that no one was available.
"I am not pleased that we don't have someone here from Treasury to explain what their role in this is," Dodd said.
Geithner's choice for undersecretary of international affairs, Caroline Atkinson, also withdrew from consideration, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Geithner's lack of a senior staff has 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 by 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."
David Jones, head of Denver-based economic consulting firm DMJ Advisors, said that Geithner's missteps in putting together a financial rescue program and his inability to assemble a team at Treasury were raising concerns about whether the new administration's economic team is up to the challenges confronting them.
"There is no question that Wall Street is losing patience," said Jones, who for more than three decades served as a top economist at a major bond trading firm. "If there was ever a time when we need an effective and strong Treasury secretary, it is now."
His department is woefully understaffed.
Hope 'n Change!
Nazareth, currently a partner at the law firm Davis Polk and Wardwell, worked for a number of investment banks, including Lehman Brothers, before joining the SEC in 1998 and staying there for a decade.
In 2004, she helped create a controversial voluntary program that allowed the SEC to supervise liquidity and capital levels at investment banks. But the program failed to keep such lightly regulated non-bank institutions from falling victim to the financial crisis.
The SEC was forced to shut down the program in 2008 after Lehman Brothers collapsed, Merrill Lynch was sold and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were transformed into bank holding companies supervised by the Federal Reserve.
To paraphrase Warren Old Country Buffet, the Pbama Administration is in shambles.
If a Republican Admin was off to such a disastrous start, The Left would be going for the jugular vein, ripping the Admin to shreds.
The Pbama Admin received yet another coveted Free Pass.
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