Now that yet another Obama appointee to Treasury has withdrawn, maybe it will dawn on someone in the Administration to turn to the person who understands TARP, the AIG bailout, and the workings of the domestic economy as well as anyone: Harvard Law Professor and TARP Oversight Board Chair Elizabeth Warren.
It’s surprising — and not a little nauseating — that no one seems to have raised Warren’s name for filling a slot like Undersecretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance or even Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. There are two possible reasons for the omission, either of which should make us very suspicious of Larry Summers’ and Tim Geithner’s agendas:
1) Warren has been a persistent critic of Treasury’s handling of the financial crisis and has demanded more transparency in the process. Can’t have one of them on the inside, right?
2) More generally, Warren isn’t part of the Wall Street club. She’s not an economist, and thus, even though the economics and finance professions have consistently shown themselves to be at least overrated and at most the equivalents of medieval shamans, she isn’t taken seriously by the numbers crowd. I helped plan a conference on the mortgage meltdown a few months ago, and suggested her name as a participant: the economists had never heard of her and pretty much dismissed the idea.
Could she be confirmed? Well, she already has been appointed by Congress.
A few days before the Nazi invasion of Poland, when everyone knew war was coming and Neville Chamberlain still refused to put Churchill in the Cabinet, an anonymous observer paid for an enormous sign in Piccadilly Circus. The sign read simply: WHAT PRICE CHURCHILL?
I have been asking the question regarding Joseph Stiglitz for a while. We might ask the same about Elizabeth Warren now.