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Economics of Contempt delivers a ringing endorsement of Rodge Cohen for deputy treasury secretary, but points out that there's no way he'll get confirmed, because he's too tied to the financial system.

Cohen would be a fantastic choice for any top government position, and Treasury would be lucky to have him. Few people in the world have a deeper understanding of the global financial system than Cohen.

In today's political environment though, I have a hard time believing that Cohen could get confirmed by the Senate without a bruising political fight. He was heavily involved in the events of last September. He represented Lehman during the weekend negotiations before it filed for bankruptcy, then a few days later represented Barclays in its acquisition of Lehman's U.S. investment banking unit. He also represented Wachovia (his longtime client) in the Citi/Wells Fargo debacle, and presumably advised Wachovia's board of directors that its fiduciary duty required it to accept Wells Fargo's offer, even though that meant violating its exclusivity agreement with Citi. I'm sure Cohen has represented other Wall Street financial houses at various points in the financial crisis as well.

Perhaps we should just give up entirely on the idea of putting someone who, like, knows something about the financial system, in charge of the financial system.  Is Dr. Phil available?  Sure, he may not know much about banking, but he's very popular, and people like to watch him bossing other people around. 

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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