Geithner ruling out a move into top Fed job

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The Independent Online

Tim Geithner has had his fill of public office, with the outgoing United States Treasury Secretary firmly ruling out the possibility that he could be lured back with the offer of Ben Bernanke's job when the central banker steps down as the head of the Federal Reserve.

Before he became President Obama's top financial lieutenant, Mr Geithner was in charge of the New York Federal Reserve, the overseer of Wall Street and trillions in financial transactions. He was in the room as a key player when the credit crunch hit and as it intensified, claiming the Lehman Brothers investment bank.

But in an interview with Politico, Mr Geithner ruled out a move to the nation's central bank.

Mr Bernanke is widely expected to step down at the end of his second term, which comes to a close next year.

Mr Geithner, who considered leaving the Treasury following the debt ceiling talks of 2011 but was persuaded otherwise by the President, was emphatic in ruling himself out as a possible replacement. "Not a chance," he said. "I have great respect for the institution, but that will be someone else's privilege." Jack Lew, the President's most recent chief of staff and before that his budget director, has been named as Mr Geithner's successor.

As he leaves, he spoke positively of the recent House measure to suspend the US debt ceiling as Congress and the White House gear up for a debate on spending cuts. Earlier, before the measure was put forward by the Republicans, there were fears of a political battle as the government ran out of room for manoeuvre on its borrowing limit, thus raising the prospect of a default.

By suspending the ceiling, the Republicans had ceded the limit as a political weapon, Mr Geithner said.

"It certainly looks like they decided that it's not effective leverage, because you can't threaten the unthinkable and expect to get any leverage," he told Politico in the farewell interview.

"So, I think that's encouraging. But to be fair, I don't think it's clear what their next step is on this issue."

However, his optimistic reading of the move was just as swiftly rejected by a spokesman for the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who suggested a fight could still be forthcoming when the debate turns, in three months, to extended the ceiling for a longer period.