Geithner to head Obama's economic team during crisis
President-elect Barack Obama Monday unveiled the economic team that will attempt to steer the United States away from a protracted recession, naming Timothy Geithner to head the US Treasury and Larry Summers as his top White House economic advisor, dpa reported.
Geithner, currently the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, will be tasked with rescuing the financial industry from its worst crisis since the Great Depression when the new administration takes over on January 20.
Geithner, 47, has already worked closely with current Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke since the financial crisis spiralled out of control in September.
"We are facing an economic crisis of historic proportions," Obama said in a Chicago press conference that marked the first cabinet positions unveiled since his election November 4.
"We'll need to bring together the best minds in America to guide us, and that is what I've sought to do in assembling my economic team," he said. "I've sought leaders who could offer both sound judgement and fresh thinking."
Summers will become director of the White House National Economic Council, making him Obama's chief economic policy advisor. Summers is a respected economic voice who served as Treasury secretary in the latter years of former president Bill Clinton's administration.
Obama said the new team would begin work immediately on a new fiscal stimulus package to create 2.5 million jobs and revive a US economy that is likely headed into a recession.
Talks on a new stimulus have stalled in the current Congress, but Obama has promised it will be a top priority when he enters office in January. Obama would not put a figure on the package, which some have estimated at 700 billion dollars.
"It is going to be of a size and scope that is necessary to get our economy back on track," he told reporters.
At Treasury, Geithner will become the chief proponent of Obama's economic policies and will take control of the existing 700-billion-dollar financial rescue package passed by Congress in October. About half the money will already have been invested in banks by the time Geithner takes over the Treasury.
Geithner will also become a key player in global efforts to better regulate the financial industry. He directed international affairs at the Treasury in the late 1990s, lived and worked in Asia and Africa and studied Japanese and Chinese.
"The economic crisis we face is no longer just an American crisis, it is a global crisis, and we will need to reach out to countries around the world to craft a global response," Obama said. "Tim understands the language of today's international markets in more ways than one."
Obama also named Christina Romer, a long-time professor at the University of California at Berkeley and specialist on the Great Depression, to lead the White House Council of Economic Advisors, a team of three that help develop economic policy.
Melody Barnes was named director of the Domestic Policy Council. She had previously served as a top advisor to Obama during the presidential campaign.