President-elect Barack Obama introduced the senior members of his economic team on Monday, naming New York Federal Reserve President Timothy Geithner as his Treasury Secretary. Kane Farabaugh has more on the story from Chicago.
With U.S. stock markets at five year lows, U.S. automakers on the verge of collapse and millions of Americans affected by job cuts and home foreclosures, President-elect Barack Obama underscored the importance of putting his financial team in place early.
"We are facing an economic crisis of historic proportions," he said. "Our financial markets are under stress. New home purchases in October were the lowest in half a century. Recently, more than half a million jobless claims were filed - the highest in 18 years. And if we do not act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year."
New York Federal Reserve President Timothy Geithner is Mr. Obama's pick to head the U.S. Treasury Department. Geithner has broad experience in many different areas of the U.S. banking industry. The President-elect hopes his appointment sends a message that the incoming administration understands the issues plaguing the financial sector.
"Tim's extensive international experience makes him uniquely suited for this work," said Mr. Obama. "Growing up partly in Africa and having lived and worked throughout Asia; having served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, one of many roles in the international arena; and having studied both Chinese and Japanese, Tim understands the language of today's international markets in more ways than one."
President-elect Obama also announced that former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, a veteran of the Clinton administration, is his pick to head the National Economic Council, a position that will make him one of Mr. Obama's top economic advisors.
Obama hopes that both men will quickly pass through Congressional confirmation hearings so they can immediately work on a plan to stimulate the U.S. economy and a financial aid package to rescue the ailing U.S. automotive industry.
But the change of administration is still two months away. Even so, President George Bush, just back from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru, says current Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is working closely with President-elect Obama as the government moves to inject $20 billion into cash-strapped financial giant CitiGroup.
"Paulson is working close with transition team," said President Bush. "It's important for American people to know there is close cooperation. Important for us to safeguard the financial system, as that's the first step needed."
President-elect Obama also announced two more appointments to fill out his financial team. Economic historian Christina Romer will serve as chairwoman of Obama's Council of Economic Advisors, and policy expert Melody Barnes will serve as Director of the Domestic Policy Council.