The president-elect has just announced his economic team. Writes Mark Silva: “President-elect Barack Obama had maintained that there is ‘only one president at a time.’ But in these times, it’s probably time for a second president to deliver a second opinion about a direly needed economic recovery.”
Aside from squabbles over specific picks, it’s good that Obama is moving quickly with the econ section of his cabinet; the market is something that can be tweaked by news of something that will happen in the future, so it’s one step the president-elect can make to actually improve the economy without having any actual powers as of yet. It’s been suggested that the selection of Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary caused Friday’s market rally, although the news that the FDIC has pretty much eliminated its insurance caps (about a month after raising them from $100K to $250K) seems just as likely a culprit.
Silva’s not alone in suggesting a “second opinion” is needed. Gail Collins of the NYT is suggesting that Bush turn over the reins on the general principle that he sucks and no one trusts him anymore. So is Thomas Friedman, although my general instinct is to do the opposite of whatever he suggests.*
At the very least, Obama’s press conferences are more interesting and less depressing than reading that my arguably solvent bank is getting a not-bailout (it would be socialism if the U.S. bought Citibank, I guess, but loaning them twice the value of the company is fine). The consensus: this sucks hard.
Update: Oh and: The Fed’s promising to put us all on the hook for up to $7.4t.
Extended reading: “The Anatomy of a Meltdown.”
* Including when he says “I go into restaurants these days, look around at the tables often still crowded with young people, and I have this urge to go from table to table and say: ‘You don’t know me, but I have to tell you that you shouldn’t be here. You should be saving your money. You should be home eating tuna fish. This financial crisis is so far from over. We are just at the end of the beginning. Please, wrap up that steak in a doggy bag and go home.'”
“Now is when we need a president who has the skill, the vision and the courage to cut through this cacophony, pull us together as one nation and inspire and enable us to do the one thing we can and must do right now: