Below is a letter I just sent to Tim Geithner, President of the Fed of New York, challenging him to a debate to be organized by PRMIA and broadcast by CNN Money.  Later today, CNN Money will carry an interview via the web with me by Poppy Harlow discussing the appointment of Geithner by President-elect Barrack Obama.  I will post the link to that interview [click here] when it is released on Tuesday. — Chris

December 5, 2008

Mr. Timothy Geithner
Federal Reserve Bank of New York
33 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10045

Dear Mr. Geithner:

With this note, I hereby challenge you to a two hour public debate “On the Bailout To Date and the Model of Political Economy that Should Apply Going Forward.”  I propose that the debate be held in New York as soon as possible.

I have asked my colleagues at Professional Risk Managers International Association to facilitate the event and to act as organizer to ensure a free and fair exchange.  The have agreed to do so.  I copy Steve Lindo, Executive Director of PRMIA, and James Tunkey, Regional Director of the NY Chapter, on this note

I have also asked CNN to televise the event and to provide a facility for PRMIA members and members of the public to attend.  They have agreed to do so.  I copy Caleb Silver, Executive Producer of CNN Money on this note.

I propose our colleague Josh Rosner of Graham Fisher & Co. as moderator.  Josh knows the subject matter of the bailout as well as any, he is an independent researcher, and is also known for his fairness and intellectual rigor.  Obviously you would have to agree or we could discuss other candidates.  I copy Josh on this note.

Let me say that while I have been critical of you in the past, this is not personal.  I have the greatest respect for all of my former colleagues in the Federal Reserve System and the other bank regulatory agencies.  My colleagues at IRA and I honor their service, including yours.  But when our Founding Fathers spoke of the “checks” in checks and balances, I believe they had something in mind like NHL hockey — maybe even the Moscow league.  When you step on the ice of public policy leadership, you have to take the shots.   I am giving you a chance to take a shot at me in front of a live, nationally televised audience.

My colleagues at PRMIA will ensure that this event is civil and informative,  Indeed, this is a great opportunity for you to talk directly to the financial community and make the case of why you should be the next Treasury Secretary of the United States.  If you have the courage to accept this invitation, then I might think about believing you got what it takes for the job.

In any event, I wish you good luck in the future.  Bcc: everyone I know in the regulatory community and the media for the record.


Christopher Whalen
Managing Director

Office: 914-827-9272
Mobile: 914-645-5304
Skype: “rcwhalen”
AIM: “”

The information contained in this communication is confidential, may be subject to the attorney-client privilege, and is intended only for review and use by the addressee. It is the property of the sender. Unauthorized use, disclosure or copying of this communication or any part thereof is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by return e-mail, and destroy this communication and all copies thereof, including all attachments. Alternatively, please call R.C. Whalen at (914) 827-9272.

Below is a letter I just Sent to Tim Geithner, President of the Fed of New York, challenging him to a debate to be organized by PRMIA and broadcast by CNN.  Later today, CNN will carry and interview with me by Poppy Harlow discussing the appointment of Geithner by President-elect Barrack Obama.  I will post the link to that interview [click here] when it is released. — Chris

Category: BP Cafe, Credit, Markets, Media

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

17 Responses to “A Challenge to Tim Geithner: Debate Me on the Bailout To Date and the Model of Political Economy that Should Apply Going Forward”

  1. Chief Tomahawk says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say this doesn’t happen. No way would Obama want a pick of his to take a confidence hit prior to taking on a job as important as Treasury Secretary.

  2. KVanHim says:

    I agree Chief. Classic case of little to gain and everything to lose.

  3. James says:

    Below is a letter I just Sent to Tim Geithner, President of the Fed of New York, challenging him to a debate to be organized by PRMIA


    This will never happen – There are far more important worries, and it has no upside whatsoever for Geithner and the new administration.

    What are you thinking, CW?

  4. Dan Duncan says:

    Chris Whalen? Is that you??? I can’t believe it—seeing you here after all these years. I remember our first meeting, way back in the 3rd grade, just like it was yesterday. Our teacher, Mrs. Tuluskie introduced us. The first words out of your mouth was: “You wanna race?” After I politely declined, you followed up with: “OK, how about an arm wrestle?”

    Yeah, OK Chris…this debate is really going to happen…..And CNN is definitely going to devote TWO hours of programming to it as well.

    Wanna see who can hold their breath the longest? You first, then me.

  5. TrickStar says:

    Silly letter. Chest thumping should take place at the local YMCA. Why don’t you write the guy a nicer letter and tell him privately that you want to volunteer some time to the cause. The only thing I see as needing a “po rucckii” style hockey check is your frickin’ ego.

  6. Chris Whalen says:

    I am sure you win Dan. No argument. But it should happen.

    And Yes TrickStar, we are grandstanding, in part because the rest of our fellow citizens in our supposed democracy refuse to speak up. I’d be happy to stand aside and have a larger panel discussion with Geithner included if that would help make this type of open, public, on-the-record discussion occur.

    My sentiments to Mr. Geithner are likewise meant in a sincere way. He serves, so he gets my respect. But that does not mean that we should not SPEAK UP when we think he is is badly mistaken.

    Get in the game TrickStar. BTW, using your real name would help your now limited credibility. Or are you constrained by the self imposed limits of la sistema?

  7. Chris,

    As I was going to say, upon reading your letter to Geithner: “That’s the ol’ Pepper.”

    now, seeing your response to the __________, in the comments section, I’ll add: 2x .

    From my own sense: Keep on keeping on~

    Open dialog, and frank discussion, both, like Sunlight, are the only things that will cure these ails.

  8. TrickStar says:

    Chris –

    Thank you for your note. I appreciate your willingness to speak up. Democracy functions better when dissenting opinions find a forum where they can be heard. We’re fortunate to live in a place where that is usually the case.

    As for your comments directed toward me, I’m quite satisfied sticking with my limited level of credibility, rather than losing all of it by sending off a confrontational note, with a CC to the entire planet, to a public official who is in the midst of trying to keep the wheels on the wagon. If you’re interest had been selfless, I would think you’d have devised a better plan than to socialize your ideas in a manner that someone might be receptive toward.

    Theoretical Return of winning the public debate with Tim = 100
    Probability of Success (of participating in the debate after sending the above note) = 0.0%
    Expected Return = 0

    Theoretical Return of meeting privately with Tim to discuss how you can volunteer your time = 50
    Probability of Debate Occurring After Sending the Above note = 25%
    Expected Return = 12.5

    As for my level of participation in the “game,” I’m not aware that you have any data that would suggest I’m either in or out of the game. I don’t know about you, but I get woozy drawing conclusions without data to support them.



  9. Chris Whalen says:

    Points well taken. It’s a shame in our society that all of the defaults point to a zero probability of success in situations such as this where increasing risk exposure is at issue, not matter how you approached it.

    I always hope that all of our expectations are wrong and a surprise will occur.


  10. TrickStar says:

    Chris –

    I hear you. I struggle with that reality everyday. The only elixir that I’ve found to work for me is some variety of humility and doggedness; and remembering that warm fuzzies get you farther than cold pricklies.

    Good luck.

    All the best,


  11. Moss says:

    Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, need for admiration, extreme self-involvement, and lack of empathy for others. Individuals with this disorder are usually arrogantly self-assured and confident. They expect to be noticed as superior. Many highly successful individuals might be considered narcissistic. However, this disorder is only diagnosed when these behaviors become persistent and very disabling or distressing.

  12. BG says:


    I’m a financial layperson out here; but, I like what I see in you.

    Keep up the good work. Give us hope out here in the trenches.

    Good Luck!!

  13. Chris Whalen says:

    Thanks Moss. I prefer not to live on my knees. Do you ever challenge authority? Do you vote? I can understand your perspective if you have serious personality issues of your own. But it you are able, why don’t you speak up? You prefer to just take this crap day after day from those in authority as they destroy our country? Is that your answer? I think we have become a nation of sheep who do not deserve the civil rights that we still have — for now. Soon we will all live in a gringo version of the EU, where the government tells you what to think and when.

    Moss, is that the world you want? If not, then speak up.

    And to you BG, un fuerte abrazo! Thanks.

  14. mkkby says:

    No offense intended, but who is Chris Whalen, and why would a treasury secretary or anyone else take his bait?

  15. mkkby says:

    BR, obviously from the comments, this offends your readers. Perhaps you could at least introduce your guests when they are not a household name.

    Chris is over sensitive to criticism. Instead of name calling, perhaps he can explain what qualifies him as an expert on this subject.

  16. Chris Whalen says:

    No, I was just in a bad mood yesterday. Sometimes writing about bad things every day is a bad thing. So I watched Duck Soup and felt better. Recall that in the begining of the film, the government of Freedonia is asking Mrs Teasdale for a loan in order to reduce taxes. Sound familiar?

    Apologies to the thread.

    As for me, I am a citizen. I happen to work for and own a piece of a company that rates financial institutions and builds risk management systems for auditors, banks and other b2b customers. I have been called a narcissist on this thread, but one man’s narcissist is another man’s good citizen. GIVE ME A NATION OF NARCISSISTS.

    My published works and other data are found here:

    My company site is a lot of fun too:



  17. Greg0658 says:

    I’ve been following this thread in somewhat real time. More time today to keep clicking to the way back.

    I’ve seen you ChrisW on tv and think ya have a brain. This financial stuff is mind boggling and involves little me more and more seems. Not really my job to design this kinda stuff, but I guess it is.

    On the letter and open paste, I send stuff to CNBC sometimes and copypaste here too. Why waste 5 minutes of write on a airtime or forward editor ony. Ya gotta reach out with words / not bullets or swords.

    Can you believe how much airtime Joe the Plumber got (real name Sam). As an artist it confounds me how the big stream really works. It must be a club. Jewish maybe. Or Masonic. Or _____ist.