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Obama Says Treasury Secretary Nominee 'Ready to Go'


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 named his economic team on Monday. He announced that New York Federal Reserve Bank President Timothy Geithner will be Treasury Secretary and economist Lawrence Summers will lead the National Economic Council. After the announcement, The Business Roundtable welcomed the selection of Geithner and Summers. And the Dow Jones Industrial average closed up almost 400 points. VOA's Kane Farabaugh has more from Chicago.

President-elect Barack Obama limited his second post-election news conference to the struggling economy.

"We are facing an economic crisis of historic proportions," the president-elect noted. "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 eighteen years - and if we do not act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year."

He said New York Federal Reserve Bank President Timothy Geithner will be his treasury secretary. He said Geithner is ready to go.

"Tim will waste no time getting up to speed. He will start his first day on the job with a unique insight into the failures of today's markets and a clear vision of the steps we must take to revive them," Obama said.

The President-elect also said former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, a veteran of the Clinton Administration, will head the National Economic Council. He paid tribute to Summers' intellect.

"As a thought leader, Larry has urged us to confront the problems of income inequality and the middle class squeeze," he praised.

President-elect Obama announced two more appointments: economist Christina Romer as head of the Council of Economic Advisors, and policy expert Melody Barnes as director of the Domestic Policy Council.

Mr. Obama said he is planning a "big stimulus package to jolt the economy back into shape" and create 2.5 million jobs.

"Our families cannot afford to keep on waiting and hoping for a solution. They cannot afford to watch another month of unpaid bills pile up," Obama said.

He also said the struggling automobile industry will have to be saved -- once the companies provide a proposal for restructuring their industry. And he said he will honor commitments already made by the Bush administration.

In Washington Monday, President Bush assured Americans that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is working with the Obama transition group.

"Paulson is working close with the transition team," president Bush said. "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."

Over the weekend, the government agreed to rescue Citigroup, another bank on the verge of collapse.

Mr. Obama said in the coming weeks, he will provide the public with an overview of what his team recommends.

Senate confirmation hearings for his appointees are expected to begin shortly after Mr. Obama assumes the presidency on January 20.

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