There are reports of ignorance:
In the Q&A session that followed Geithner’s speech, Whalen asked a question about a topic that remains pertinent today—the 2004 Basel II accords, which set new global bank-capital standards. Whalen pointed out that one of the objectives of Basel II “was to actually grind the particular risk exposures”—that is, to require lenders to compute the probability of their borrowers’ defaulting on loans. “But banks said, ‘Oh, no, this is too expensive. You can’t do that.’ It didn’t fit with the quant, credit-derivative worldview,” Whalen said. It didn’t happen.
“I said, ‘Tim, isn’t this backsliding?’”
Geithner fixed Whalen with a vacant gaze and simply moved to another questioner, mumbling that he wasn’t prepared to answer the question.
Whalen was stunned. “It seemed to me that he had no idea what I was talking about,” he recalls. As for the look: “Think Bambi looking into the headlights on an 18-wheeler.”
Weiss nails what was so concerning about Geithner in the first weeks of his tenure at Treasury:
There is something deeply disturbing about a Treasury secretary showing flop sweat in the middle of the worst economic crisis since Herbert Hoover was president.
The story then pivots to call Geithner the ultimate slur:
Bill Seidman, former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., considers the Treasury secretary to be “a smart guy but a certified bureaucrat.”
Man, can you print that in a respectable magazine?
Seidman says Geithner made a remarkably dumb comment when Seidman criticized Geithner’s boss in a speech overseas:
According to Seidman, Geithner called him and said, “You’re a disloyal American. You can’t make statements like that on foreign soil about a secretary of the Treasury.”
Oh, no. Not the secretary of the Treasury! Hosannas only for the SecTreas when international.
And another other confidence-sapping anecdote:
Geithner has been seeking to reclaim the narrative by writing an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal and granting a few carefully stage-managed interviews—so stage-managed, in fact, that a public-relations aide openly scribbled out talking points to Geithner in front of a National Public Radio producer during an interview at his office.
These stories aren’t knockout blows, but they’re good scrutiny of a critical figure in the economic crisis.