How Will Geithner Run The Treasury?


Treasury Secretary-nominee Timothy Geithner on Wednesday said the government's response to the financial crisis would be made in the coming weeks.

Appearing before a Senate panel that is considering his nomination, Geithner said President Barack Obama would lay out a comprehensive plan to stabilize banks, housing and consumer credit markets and municipal finance, very soon.

“What we heard today from Geithner is that the government is done with the ad-hoc approach,” explains CNBC’s Steve Liesman on Fast Money. Instead, expect a much more defined plan for TARP.

Bailout Program Reform

Geithner told lawmakers, many of whom are upset at how the government's $700 billion financial rescue program has been run, that the Obama administration would require banks receiving government money to document increased lending.

"We have to fundamentally reform this program to ensure that there is enough credit available to support recovery," he said.

Geithner pledged measures to ensure credit flows to consumers and businesses, but stopped short of offering specifics on how that might be done.

He also said it was possible the administration could establish a "bad bank" to soak up toxic assets. "It is possible that something there will be part of the solution going forward," he said.

But “Geithner talked more negatively about bad bank than I thought he would,” adds Liesman.

Public Apology

While he is widely expected to win Senate confirmation, Geithner faced sharp questioning over his failure to pay some taxes when he worked for the International Monetary Fund earlier this decade.

The disclosure last week that Geithner underpaid self-employment taxes by around $34,000 has cast a cloud over his nomination. The errors, since corrected, were seen as particularly problematic because the Treasury oversees the Internal Revenue Service, the nation's tax collection agency.

"These were careless mistakes. They were avoidable mistakes. But they were unintentional," Geithner said. I want to apologize to the committee for putting you in the position of having to spend so much time on these issues."

The committee is expected to vote on his nomination on Thursday, clearing the way for approval by the full Senate by the end of the week.

"You're going to be confirmed," Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas predicted.

Read More:

> Geithner Urges Bailout Reforms

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Trader disclosure: On Jan. 21th, 2008, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Macke Owns (MCD), (BAC), (C), (TM), (MSFT); Seymour Owns (AAPL), (BAC), (F), (EEM), (FXI), (TSO); Finerman's Firm Owns (DNA), (AEO), (MSFT), (PM); Finerman's Firm Is Short (IYR), (IJR), (IWM), (MDY), (SPY), (USO); Najarian Owns (EEM) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (FCX) & (FCX) Short Calls; Najarian Owns (MS) Stock; Najarian Owns (MS) Short Calls & Short Put Spread; Najarian Owns (NVLS) Calls; Najarian Owns (PALM) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (XME) Long Calls; Najarian Owns (APPL) Call Spread; Najarian is Long (PALM) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (GGB) Long Calls with wires