Who would follow Geithner?

@CNNMoney July 1, 2011: 3:37 PM ET
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (left) and White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley,

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (left) and White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley,

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Timothy Geithner said Thursday that he plans to stay on as Treasury Secretary for the foreseeable future. But that hasn't stopped speculation about who might take his place later this year.

Sources told CNN and other news outlets Thursday that Geithner is considering leaving the Obama administration later this year, once negotiations on raising the government's debt ceiling and cutting the budget deficit are complete.

Geithner's family is moving back to the New York suburbs where they lived before he took office so his son can finish high school there. And as the head of Treasury through the worst financial crisis in a generation, and the last key member of President Obama's original economic team still on the job, a desire to leave wouldn't be a shock.

Geithner tried to tamp down the reports of his imminent departure when speaking in Chicago Thursday by saying he wasn't planning on leaving anytime soon.

Still, economists and Washington experts were already talking about who might take over the high-profile job.

Near the top of the list is current White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, a close Obama confidant and someone who was brought in at least partly because of his good relationship with the business community.

Before taking the job in the administration earlier this year, Daley had been an executive at JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500). He also served as Secretary of Commerce in the second term of the Clinton Administration.

Also at the top of many lists is Erskine Bowles, the Democratic co-chairman of the president's bipartisan commission on cutting the budget deficit. Bowles, who had served as White House Chief of Staff in the Clinton administration, would be an relatively easy pick to get confirmed given the budget cutting emphasis in Congress today, according some experts.

But when contacted Friday, Bowles, 65, appeared to take himself out of running for the job, saying that he is not interested in any full-time job at this point in his career.

"I am looking forward to being useful in part-time endeavors," he said.

Investment banker Roger Altman is another name that has been mentioned, but his name has surfaced for previous openings on the Obama economic team without ever getting tapped for a position.

And White House Budget Director Jacob Lew, who has been central to negotiations on the debt ceiling and deficit reduction, is another name suggested by experts.

Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, who is often described as "Obama's favorite banker" is another prominent name mentioned. A spokesman for the nation's second largest bank holding company had no comment on whether his boss would be interested in the job.

Greg Valliere, chief political strategist, Potomac Research Group, said he doesn't think it'll be a good idea for Obama to pick someone from Wall Street, given the government help banking giants like JPMorgan -- along with rivals likeCitigroup (C, Fortune 500) and Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) -- received during the crisis three years ago.

"I just think that Wall Street is not the way they would go. It could be an albatross for this administration," said Valliere. "And having him berating [Federal Reserve Chairman Ben] Bernanke in public three weeks ago certainly didn't help his case."

Valliere said that he thinks Obama should try to go with a high-profile Treasury Secretary outside of banking and Washington -- someone like Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA, Fortune 500) Chairman Warren Buffett, an earlier supporter of Obama four years ago, or New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"I think he should do something bold and swing for the fences. I think Mike Bloomberg would be an electrifying pick," he said. "The only problem is that he could stray from the reservation on the message. But he's an entrepreneur who knows about creating jobs."

Bloomberg has denied interest in an administration post in the past, and has said he intends to complete his term as mayor which runs through 2013. A spokesman in the mayor's press office declined to comment Friday.

But the political reality is that it might be impossible to get any replacement for Geithner confirmed by the Senate in the year before a presidential election, said Jaret Seiberg, a research analyst at MF Global Inc.'s Washington Research Group.

Seiberg pointed out that 44 Republican senators have vowed not to confirm any nominee to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because they want the new agency's powers substantially trimmed. The same political battle could lead that group to block a Treasury nominee as well, he said. Even Alexander Hamilton would have trouble getting confirmed today, he said.

"The problem is there is no ideal candidate out there," said Seiberg. "I think it's a Herculean task to get anyone through the Senate right now. That's why at the end of the day, we're likely to have Geithner stay in place."

Valliere said if confirmation becomes the major hurdle to a new Treasury chief, he could see Secretary of State Hillary Clinton moving over to Treasury, with Sen. John Kerry taking her spot at State. Past and current senators have an easier time winning confirmation than do outsiders, he said. And he said that the Treasury job has become a diplomatic job as much as a finance job in the current interconnected global economy. To top of page

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