Geithner may quit Treasury this year for sake of family

Economics Editor,Sean O'Grady
Monday 04 July 2011 00:00
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Timothy Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary, may leave office later this year, it was reported yesterday.

Mr Geithner, who has been in post since February 2009, is, according to sources, weighing "family considerations" in his decision.

He has been under fire virtually during his entire time in the job, especially from Congressional critics, during one of the most tumultuous periods in American financial history. He is the last remaining senior member of President Barack Obama's original economic team.

However, Mr Geithner is keen to complete the negotiations with Congress over reducing the US budget defect and reset a ceiling on the country's national debt.

Both have proved extremely contentious, so much so that some Republicans are threatening to force the Treasury to default on its bonds when the debt ceiling is reached, probably on 2 August.

In reality, commentators suggest that there will be no resolution of the problem until after the presidential election in November next year, and possibly not even then.

If Mr Geithner, 49, does depart, he may leave Mr Obama even more exposed as the economy becomes the key political issue determining his chances of a second term.

In interviews at the weekend, Mr Geithner declared he would remain at his Treasury post "for the foreseeable future" and evaded answering direct questions about his immediate intentions, following reports in the US media that he was thinking about his own exit strategy from the Obama administration.

"We have a lot of challenges as a country, and I'm going to be doing it for the foreseeable future," he said.

The Bloomberg news agency cited unnamed sources as saying that family considerations were among the factors Mr Geithner was weighing up. A Treasury official said Mr Geithner had "not yet made a decision" – a less than categorical denial.

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