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Geithner Fails to Impress

12:01 PM, Feb 11, 2009 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
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When Barack Obama nominated Timothy Geithner for the post of Secretary of the Treasury, he said Geithner had the right skill set for getting the economy back on track:

Having served in senior roles at Treasury, the IMF and the New York Fed, Tim Geithner offers not just extensive experience shaping economic policy and managing financial markets, but an unparalleled understanding of our current economic crisis, in all of its depth, complexity and urgency. Tim will waste no time getting up to speed. He will start his first day on the job with a unique insight into the failures of today's markets -- and a clear vision of the steps we must take to revive them.

David Axelrod called on the Senate to overlook Geithner's tax 'mistakes' because he "inspires great confidence." During the Senate debate over Geithner's nomination, Chris Dodd said it was critical to confirm Geithner because "no single individual will bear more of a responsibility to steer our Nation out of this crisis." Rahm Emanuel said simply that he was "the right man for the job."

If yesterday marked Geithner's first public test, then the judgment of the Obama vetting team is called into question. The Wall Street Journal helpfully compiles a number of reactions to today's TARP II announcement:

The bottom line from the Geithner speech is that it was too general, and it lacked the specifics needed to it to be credible. The speech had too many political overtones and the politically-charged preamble by Senator Chris Dodd did not set the stage appropriately for what was a communication that was directed to mainly a technical audience from a key administration technocrat. -Brian Bethune, Global Insight

The concept of a public/private investment fund sounds intriguing, but there is no plan - the Treasury Secretary "seeks input" how to achieve this... We did not see convincing evidence that the government is moving away from its Band-aid approach to helping banks... -Axel Merk, Merk Investments

The "comprehensive" financial rescue plan - Financial Stability Plan - released by Treasury Secretary Geithner this morning is still missing significant detail, including an implementation date. There are far too many missing details to make this a satisfying announcement. Nonetheless - at first blush and without the benefit of key detail - the plan does appear to address the key problems of the financial markets at this point in time. -Ward McCarthy, Stone & McCarthy

Perhaps nothing tells the story of the market's reaction better than these graphs:

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Who would have thought that Wall Street would miss Hank Paulson so quickly?