I’m sitting in a gigantic ballroom at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, waiting for a Milken Institute Global Conference panel on when the financial recovery is coming. But I’ve already breezed through Jo Becker and Gretchen Morgenson’s epic examination of Tim Geithner’s lunch dates while he was president of the New York Fed.
In general it was pretty unremarkable: The president of the New York Fed should spent much of his/her time meeting with bankers. The two things that struck me as interesting were that:
1) Geithner’s relationship with Sandy Weill was awfully close. Weill even wanted Geithner to succeed Chuck Prince as Citigroup CEO. Geithner was smart enough to say he’d be no good for the job. But Weill has not come out of this crisis looking great, and Geithner’s apparent decision to adopt Weill as his mentor seems like evidence of somewhat questionable judgment.
2) Geithner urged last June that the government guarantee all the debt in the banking system. If that had been done at the time, I think it’s reasonable to say that we would not now be in the worst economic crisis since the Depression. I’m sure we’d have lots of other problems, but still: Geithner saw the severity of the crisis before others in government did.