Treasury Secretary Speculation Heats Up

There’s not much liquidity on the Treasury secretary contracts over at InTrade, but for what it’s worth Summers last traded at 22, Geithner at 20, Paulson at 15 (!), and Volcker at 10. The only long-shots to trade were Buffett and Romney, both at 5. (Luke Mullins makes up his own odds here.)

Rubin’s not even on the list, so his statement today that he doesn’t want to be Treasury secretary again seems a little moot. Conventional wisdom seems to be coalescing around Summers and Geithner, but it’s interesting that their combined prices are still below 50. Josh Marshall has good arguments against Summers, and I, for one, would be disappointed at the prospect of a Barry-and-Larry show. I think and hope that Obama is going to go for someone more collegial, who won’t just assume he’s always right in the way that Summers is wont to do.

Meanwhile, I’ve seen no indication that Geithner is ruling himself out or doesn’t want the job. That surprises me: I wouldn’t take it, were I in his position at the New York Fed. But Geithner is maybe more of a political animal than I had thought. If he really wants the job, I suspect that it’s his for the asking.

The most compelling long-shot name I’ve seen is Mike Bloomberg, whose successful attempt to railroad through an illegal third term as mayor of New York with the help of 29 City Council members didn’t go down very well in Gotham. If he acquits himself well as Treasury Secretary, he could be well placed to run for president in 2016 — and that, of course, is the job he really wants.

If I may make my own suggestion, I kinda like the idea of Barney Frank as Treasury secretary. He’s smart, he’s collegial, he understands the issues, and he’s never been captured by Wall Street. He’s certainly good enough to be on the InTrade list along with the likes of Steve Ballmer and Meg Whitman.

The most intriguing name on the InTrade list, though, is Bob Zoellick. He’s qualified for the job, but more to the point if he went to Treasury that would open up the World Bank job for Bill Clinton — should Clinton want it.

Update: On InTrade, Geithner’s now up at 40, with Summers at 54, and Volcker at 12. Yes, I know that doesn’t quite add up, but as I say, this is a very illiquid market.

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