Treasury Secretary Brackets

Who will be Obama’s first Treasury Secretary? Portfolio has a fabulous interactive feature to help you work it out; the first time I tried it I got Jamie Dimon, while the second time I got Paul Volcker. (It shakes up the brackets each time, so you won’t necessarily always get the same result.)

My feeling is that Tim Geithner would be great for the job, but also would be silly to take it, given the net present economic value of keeping him where he is. Even if he stays for a full term, the effect he will have as Treasury secretary will be smaller than the effect he will have in the long career ahead of him at the Fed. And it’s not like he isn’t a key policymaker already.

Similarly, I can’t imagine Dimon leaving his perch at JP Morgan in the middle of a financial crisis and before he’s come close to digesting Bear Stearns and WaMu.

But more generally, this is not the best time for a Wall Street type to take the job — and by my count, 11 of Portfolio’s 16 short-listed candidates are Wall Street types, broadly defined. (Remember that the Federal Reserve is owned by the banks, which makes it a Wall Street institution in my eyes.) So I ran the brackets again, disqualifying those 11, and came up with a showdown between Jeff Cane and Warren Buffett. The decision wasn’t hard.

Jeff, we’ll miss you, but a higher calling awaits.

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