Naming Treasury Secretary Is Top Priority: Ross

The first priority of America's president-elect should be the appointment of a treasury secretary, and New York Federal Reserve President Timothy Geithner is a likely candidate, financier Wilbur Ross said Tuesday.

He also gives former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker an outside shot.

"I think you need somebody who's been there, done that, so that you can really step in very, very quickly," Ross told CNBC. "I think time is our enemy in this thing."

He urged prompt action to resolve the mortgage crisis, to resolve the crisis facing state and local budgets, and to facilitate a merger between General Motors and Chrysler.

"I think we're on very treacherous ground right now, and I hope the new administration isn't going to wait anything like 79 days until inauguration to get going," he said.

Ross, who has major holdings in the coal industry, disagrees with critics of Barack Obama who suggest an Obama victory might be devastating for coal, quoting remarks the Democrat made last winter.

"I think he actually understands the coal business better than Senator McCain does," he said. "Remember, Obama's from Illinois, and Illinois has been quite progressive in terms of bringing technology to coal."