Wall Street seemed cheered by the news of his selection. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped nearly 500 points Friday, rising sharply after reports that Geithner would be nominated.
NEW YORK — President-elect Obama and his likely choice for Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, should have a lot to talk about. Like Obama, Geithner spent time abroad as a child and he hates to miss a pickup basketball game.
The 47-year-old president of the New York Federal Reserve has been working closely with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on the credit crisis. Wall Street seemed cheered by the news of his selection. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped nearly 500 points Friday, rising sharply after reports that Geithner would be nominated.
As president of the New York Fed, Geithner (pronounced GITE-ner) has been on the front lines of the central bank’s efforts to battle the financial crisis and to get credit flowing more freely. He has a close working relationship with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
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When Geithner worked at the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration, he dealt with international financial crises and played a major role in negotiating aid packages for South Korea and Brazil.
Those who know Geithner say he is motivated by stiff challenges — and that the financial crisis gripping global markets today is no exception.
Justin Rudelson, a friend of Geithner’s from Dartmouth College who teaches there, said he asked Geithner in June whether he was getting enough sleep.
“He said, ‘Justin, you have to realize, we live for this. We live for these kinds of crises.’ “
Geithner worked at Treasury for 13 years ending in 2001, having played a key role in shaping U.S. response to the Asian currency crisis of 1997 to 1998.
In Geithner’s last job at Treasury, he was undersecretary for international affairs under Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, who was also considered a top candidate for Treasury secretary in an Obama administration.
“He was a smart guy, an impressive guy to deal with,” said Oliver Ireland, former associate general counsel of the Fed’s Board of Governors, who attended meetings with Geithner.
“He was one of their stronger people.”
While Rudelson and other friends say Geithner’s temperament is similar to Obama’s — calm — critics say he’s thin-skinned and tends to take disagreements as a personal challenge.
“I would expect his confirmation hearings to be animated, with some strong opposition asking questions about his involvement in the AIG, Lehman, Goldman, Morgan and Bear decisions by the New York Fed,” said Joshua Rosner, managing director at research firm Graham Fisher in New York.
Some say he is not ready for the top job at Treasury.
“If Tim Geithner, the New York Fed chairman, gets a top spot in the Barack Obama’s Cabinet, we are done, finished, kaput. It is that simple,” CNBC commentator Jim Cramer wrote in Real Money magazine.
Cramer blamed him for the decision to let Lehman Brothers Holdings file for bankruptcy in September.
Geithner spent most of his childhood abroad, living in India, Thailand and Zimbabwe. His father, Peter Geithner, is an Asia expert who worked at the Ford Foundation for 28 years.
“Tim was always very adaptable to the changing locations in which we lived,” his father told Dartmouth’s student newspaper in a recent interview.
“I think (moving) allowed Tim and his siblings to get used to getting on planes, used to being in different situations.”
An amateur photographer, Tim Geithner turned the family’s Bangkok bathroom into a darkroom, his mother told the paper. Geithner’s parents did not return calls for this article.
Geithner studied Chinese at Dartmouth, spending at least one summer in China.
“Tim was a great student,” said his former Chinese professor Susan Blader. “He just brightened up everything. He has the most incredible spirit.
“He’s always had the most enormous amount of energy,” she said.
After graduating in 1983, he got a master’s in international economics and East Asian Studies from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, graduating in 1985.
Before joining Treasury, he worked for Kissinger Associates, the consulting firm founded by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
After leaving Treasury in 2001, he worked for the International Monetary Fund, where he was director of policy development. He’s been president of the New York Fed since 2003.
Geithner met his wife, Carole Sonnenfeld Geithner, in his senior year at Dartmouth. The couple have two children.
Information from Associated Press reporter Jeannine Aversa in Washington, D.C., is included in this report.