In an email from Bill Bikales, the senior economist for China/Mongolia with the UN Development program, based in Beijing:
Two nice things about this pick - I should say first that I do not know him personally.
First, his Asia background. Geithner's father, Peter Geithner, was a development specialist who opened the Ford Foundation's China office - the first foreign NGO here, under a special agreement that continues to this day. That was just before Tiananmen Square, and the father was part of the Foundation's difficult but, ultimately, undoubtedly correct decision to remain engaged. Tim apparently also studied Chinese, was posted in Tokyo for Treasury, and focused on Asia studies as undergraduate and graduate student. This is all great background for Treasury's international dealings in the coming years.
Second, he was head of the IMF's Policy and Development Review Department (PDR) for two years. PDR are the people there who provide the intellectual framework for, and monitor and sign off on the work that the country missions do. Some of the best people I ever dealt with at the Fund. I like this because I've thought more than once in recent years that what the US needs to do is take a step back and look at itself just as the IMF looked at, say, Argentina, during those years, and develop a tough IMF program; get your fiscal act in order, get serious about risks in the financial sector, establish external sustainability. Basic flow of funds accounting techniques, the core IMF methodology, would be extremely helpful. Obviously nobody will impose anything on the Congress a la IMF conditionality - but US macroeconomic policy has been seriously off track for 8 years, and a strong IMF style program is precisely what is needed. I will take pleasure these coming months in speculating about what must be going through Geithner's mind. It won't only be bail-outs and stimulus packages - the short-term fixes -- I am quite sure.
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James Fallows is a staff writer for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. He and his wife, Deborah Fallows, are the authors of the 2018 book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, which was a national best seller and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.