If Timothy Geithner steps down as Treasury secretary, it would spotlight an increasingly apparent liability for the Obama administration as it searches for a way out of the economic crisis — the weakness of its bench on economic and financial services policy, where a number of crucial vacancies loom at a fragile time for the financial system.
While the administration’s economic attention has been consumed by the struggle to strike a budget-cutting deal that would lift the debt limit before the economy is further rattled by the threat of a default, critics have been complaining that there is little attention or manpower devoted to other pressing issues. Having to take time and energy away from limited resources to focus on replacing a Treasury secretary would only add to those problems, analysts said Friday.
“It makes matters worse,” said William Longbrake, an executive in residence at the University of Maryland and the former vice chairman of Washington Mutual. “What about the rest of the economics team? There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot there to actually help the president formulate good sound economic policies as well as good sound political strategy. Everywhere I look, the people who have been guiding the president’s economic policy are all either departed or shortly will depart.”