Impressions from Treasury

I will enumerate a few (you can trace other accounts here):

1. Tim Geithner is very smart and he was conceptually stronger than one might have expected.

2. I believe that the long, L-shaped hallways encourage "visits to offices" rather than hallway conversations; this is a speculation and perhaps some reader can confirm or deny it.

3. The quality of the painted portraits of Treasury Secretaries declines as time passes.

4. The free cookies were good and fresh, with a warm, fluid chocolate interior.  There was water to drink, but no mineral water.

5. For all their talk about outreach, etc. I believe at least a few of them wanted to hear from an outside source whether we think they are totally ****ed or not.  They heard. 

6. I worry less than did some of the other bloggers about the Treasury awareness of major economic problems going forward.  As governmental institutions go, Treasury has a real incentive to a) worry about the fiscal future, and b) worry about worst-case scenarios, including for financial institutions.  Their daily interaction with the bond market gives them a longer time horizon and a more economics-friendly perspective than most of their bureaucratic counterparts.  The problem is Congress.  For instance if someone at Treasury had a Yves Smith view of the banking system, they could not much act on it.

7. "You guys are a welcome change of pace," or something like that, remarked one senior Treasury official.  Although this was flattery, I believe it was meant sincerely.  They were also a welcome change of pace.

8. I asked one senior Treasury official which book, thinker, or economic theorist had most shaped his thinking about the financial crisis.  In the ensuing discussion the book Lords of Finance was recommended, though I could not say whether it was intended as a totally direct answer to the question as stated.


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