By James Pethokoukis –
There’s no perfect résumé for a U.S. Treasury secretary, no must-have qualification other than having the confidence of the U.S. president. In recent decades the federal government’s financial boss has been a banker, a politician, a political operator, an academic, and a CEO. But America in 2013 faces a particularly broad portfolio of problems and challenges: a stagnant post–Great Recession economy, a still Too Big to Fail banking sector, a rising China, a fragile euro zone currency union — and, oh, and a financially unsustainable welfare state.
If there was ever a time when Treasury needed a fox — to use the famous Isaiah Berlin metaphor — at 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, it might be right now. Instead, we’re getting a hedgehog, Jack Lew, the current White House chief of staff. After President Obama announced Lew as his choice to replace Timothy Geithner, political analyst Greg Valliere of Potomac Research said: “He’s a budget wonk. Does he have any experience with international financial leaders, any knowledge of global economic issues, any real understanding of monetary policy, any real grasp of business issues? Just wondering.”