In a search for "non-compromised" candidates, Matt writes:
positions. Timothy Geithner needs a Deputy Secretary. And then there’s
a need for an Under Secretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance, an
Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions, and an Assistant
Secretary for Financial Markets. There are other positions in the
department, but those are the four where you might think that
experience with high finance specifically was vitally necessary. It’s
only three jobs. And you can’t tell me that there aren’t four people
alive in the United States who have experience with finance but lack
compromising relationship[s]. Why not Simon Johnson, for example? Give him
one of the jobs, and a quarter of your problem would be solved. Indeed,
if you even got three non-bankers to fill four of the
positions, I think that would create a lot of piece of mind. Nouriel
Roubini, to give another name well-known to the blogosphere, seems
perfectly well-qualified for a job at Treasury–he’s even worked in the
past as a “senior adviser” to Tim Geithner.
One point is that both Johnson and Roubini were born outside of this country and perhaps neither is an American citizen. More fundamentally, the job requires close to a 24/7 time commitment, a huge cut in pay (might Roubini earn 50K per talk?, along with enjoying complete personal freedom), an ability to "stick to message" and give up the right to speak one's mind in public, managerial and person-handling skills, a smooth enough temperament, the ability to tolerate a gross imbalance between responsibility and resources, the possible end of an academic career (for some people it's hard to keep on caring), and a very real chance to fail and fall flat on one's face. Toss in near-perfect tax records and regular payment of Social Security contributions for one's Green Card-holding housekeeper.
That's all without even being in charge. Is Geithner an easy guy to work with? You won't know until you say "yes."
I once, by sheer accident, ran into Johnson in the lobby of an NPR studio and he was smiling.
How many brilliant academics even manage to make good deans?