Should Obama appoint billionaire Technocrat Mike Bloomberg to run Treasury, or  should he appoint someone else, who by comparison (and almost by  definition) will be less competent.



Category: Markets

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46 Responses to “Open Thread: Bloomberg for Treasury Secretary”

  1. Chad says:

    Considering, I would have much rather voted for him for President than the other two clowns, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Though, he might have more influence over the overall direction of the country as mayor of NYC, considering NYC’s cultural influence and economic influence.

  2. Too many conflicts of interest with customers of Bloomberg LP

  3. Jack Damn says:

    I think Mike Bloomberg would be an excellent choice for Treasury Secretary.

  4. drewburn says:

    Oh , I like this idea Barry. I’d have to think it out, but it’s fascinating. He might be able to firewall himself off from conflict. Neat, neat idea!

  5. drewburn says:

    Suspect he’s more outsider than insider. Made his money. Impressed that he’s so stridently anti-gun, no punches pulled. I think he might just be the guy to tell Wall Street to clean up their act. It has to be done. It doesn’t need to be this way. We can go back to clean or semi-clean and NYC would do just fine.

  6. capitalistic says:

    On paper he’s the perfect candidate. Unfortunately, I doubt he’d be interested or willing to play federal politics. Politics is 80% of the job description.

  7. cfischer says:

    Considering I’m usually disappointed with these nominations, I like this one. As far as conflicts go, I’ll take this over his predecessors.

  8. jball says:

    Mr. Mike would have either the president or the financial industry as his boss. (or both).
    Anybody think his ego is up to that task?

  9. Bomber Girl says:

    Frankly, looking for a Bloomberg/Powell ticket in next election cycle.

  10. S Brennan says:

    I don’t think Obama would trust Bloomberg to be Wall Street’s craven sycophant that Turbo Timmy [w/Barack Hussein Obama's full support] has surely been.

    My call, Obama lets all his “potential” nominees of accomplishment and character twist in the wind…and then goes and does what he has in the past…hire some Wall Street / D.C. hacks who will make sure that he outdoes Clinton’s 80+ million in gratuities.

  11. cliptop says:

    bloomberg would make a great choice….but he’s too independent (for all the right reasons) for any administration—R or D.

  12. jeffers5 says:

    Although I respect Bloomberg, I would see his choice as something less than threatening to the status quo.

    If the President’s real objective is to clean up the banks and Wall Street, then why not put his balls on the table and nominate Neil Barofsky? He’s demonstrated a willingness to fight the good fight.

    Or, if his objective is to address the needs of Main Street vs. those of Wall Street, then nominate a leader from a field other than finance? Someone like Alan Mulally could be an interesting choice.

  13. WKWV says:

    For some reason, I keep imagining Paul McCulley for the job. He’s too smart to take it , too.

  14. jd351 says:

    BR, is the the same Mayor, awhile back , who said the housing crisis was caused by the Congress, you know the CRA, and if I recall you totally called him out on his comments…. If so why would you think he would be a great choice for Sec of Treasury…


    BR: I ripped him a new asshole over that, which led to my most viral WaPo column

    Despite that, he is still one of the most qualified persons out there.

  15. Bokolis says:

    Uhhh, no. He’s sold me far enough down the river. It’s someone else’s turn to rook me.

    Most people really would give up their asses in the name of convenience and efficiency.

    Bloomberg helped himself to our asses, passed it around so they can run train and we didn’t notice and/or didn’t say spit.

    The more money the boss has, the less he gives a spit about yours.

  16. VennData says:

    Who would you rather see at the Congressional hearngs destroy the gold bugs, Supply Siders, tax-cuts-pay-for-themselves crowd, and pork Barrel Medicare Part Ders than Paul Krugman?

  17. 4whatitsworth says:

    BR, Where have you been? Competence and politics don’t mix well in the new America! How can anyone trust a rich white guy they are what got us into this mess, right? If you want to see what the next generation of the administration is going to look like take a look at the attempted replacement of Hillary Clinton with Suzan Rice or the fact that Tim Geithner is in charge of the most important economic issue of the moment. If you want to see a great example of the non elected operations people David Petraeus was asked to step down by this guy . Gheez even the women will say they may have had an affair with Paula Broadwell given his circumstance.

    Just when I think things are getting better and I am numb to our circumstances you bring this question up?

  18. wally says:

    Do you think Bloomberg would even want the job?

  19. zdd200 says:

    Sounds good. Rich enough that we needn’t worry about corruption, at least the financial kind. He’s been Mayor of the, ahem, GREATEST CITY IN THE WORLD during its most trying times and he’s emerged as something of a white knight. His business acumen is buying questioning though i suspect running the Treasury is a tad different than running your average business, or even city. Together though, that combination of business and civic duty makes him an attractive candidate in my mind.

    What do you think?

    And while I’m at it, I’m still interested in hearing your take on Sir Mervyn’s speech.

  20. tdotz says:

    Spitzer would make an interesting choice, too. Highly motivated to ‘redeem’ himself, American tradition of second chances, no pandering to Wall St, fo sho.
    Lot of speculation about the timing of his “exposure” as a move to keep him off their backs.

  21. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    @CapitalObserver – too many conflicts of interest with customers of Bloomberg LP

    I’d rather have those conflicts than to have a Wall Street puppet in the slot.

    On the other hand, Ted Kaufman does seem to have an alternate view of what to do with the Wall Street mess. A view that I can agree with.

  22. louis says:

    Whoever the bankers want will get the job.

  23. gman says:

    Bloomberg could be the Joe Kennedy analog? Insider who knows where the mess is…

    Big banks are too important to his old city and business for him to really crack down on?

  24. znmeb says:

    I’d rather see a CEO from a core industry – Alan Mulally from Ford, Ginni Rometti from IBM, or even Eric Schmidt from Google – than yet another finance/insurance/real estate person. Either that, or take Douglas Elmendorf out of the CBO, since Congress doesn’t listen to him now!

    I also thing the time is ripe for a consolidation at the Cabinet level. There’s no reason Treasury, Labor, Commerce, Education, HHS and HUD can’t be combined. Too many “chiefs” – they can be “under-secretaries” or even Senior Executive Service official.

  25. swalcott says:

    you mean the mayor bloomberg who shut down the occupy encampment — whose police force smashed reporters’ cameras and has no tolerance for anybody’s opinion except his own?

    he’s got a lot of love for regular folks.

    the guy who made $15 billion plus dollars selling bond calculator/news boxes to wall street banks is going to clean up wall street?

    you people crazy.

    barofsky would clean it up, but he might hurt some folks’ feelings and we can’t have that.

  26. chris says:

    We going forward or backwards?

  27. ptm says:

    Sounds like a call for a rational operator. I don’t think the financial industry, as much as they respect Mike’s accomplishments, will stand down for him. Of course they were so successful punting Elizabeth Warren from the consumer protection commission into the senate that maybe he would be just what they need for balance. The likelihood, like hoping Paul Krugman might step into a high profile position, is very small. This administration does expct a certain level of competence, but they always seem to find the competent compromiser like the FCC’s Julius Genachowski instead of a competent commander (Janet Yellen for Fed Chairman anyone?). Mike wouldn’t quite fit with this no drama crowd as he pushed things into alignment, and that would be his biggest negative in this administration, no matter how competent and commanding he might be.

  28. Rich in NJ says:

    That’s been my choice.

  29. Theravadin says:

    No, something more dramatic than that is required. Jesus would be a good candidate if he were still around – about time to throw the money lenders out of the temple again. Since that isn’t an option, what is needed is someone who combines uncompromising moral standards, and a ferocious intolerance for incompetence with a voracious appetite for learning… don’t think Mike is quite that person… but I can’t come up with the right name yet.

  30. Frwip says:

    I’m sick with billionaires. It doesn’t matter which side this one or any other stands on.

    I wouldn’t apply to Bloomberg what Balzac had the old Goriot to say “Le secret des grandes fortunes sans cause apparente est un crime oublié.”, “Behind each uncomprehendingly great fortune lies a forgotten crime.” It assuredly applies to many of the most political active fat cats in the country and any very wealthy individual should be considered with the greatest suspicion.

    But even if I don’t think Bloomberg deserves that suspicion, it takes an amazing degree of self-centeredness, of single minded solipsism and total disregard for others to achieve such level of wealth. Those successful businessmen are by nature and necessity the most incurable autocrats. And those are the last people I want to see in charge of public policy. Or of anything beside their own wealth.

  31. constantnormal says:

    While Bloomberg may have (grudgingly) supported Obama in the election, I doubt that his support would lend itself to his being subservient to Obama. Mayor Bloomberg is a lotta things, but he’s not crazy.

    President Bloomberg would get my support in a heartbeat. But that’s not an option, nor is it ever likely to become one, at least not while our political party duopoly is running the show.

  32. Barofsky would be a nice pick..


    “…When Neil Barofsky left Washington in March 2011, many in the Obama White House were privately relieved. As special inspector general overseeing the government’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, Barofsky was a relentless critic of the Wall Street bailout who accused the administration of coddling banks at the expense of taxpayers. In a 2009 report to Congress, he wrote that the administration’s lack of transparency in spending TARP funds had created “anger, cynicism and distrust.” In his final report, the month before he turned in his resignation, he wrote: “The prospect of more bailouts will continue to fuel more bad behavior with potentially disastrous results.”

    These days Obama’s campaign advisers may wish Barofsky had stayed in town. Now a New York University law professor and free from whatever restrictions he might have felt as a government official, he’s become an even harsher scold of the president. On TV, in public debates, and on Twitter, he excoriates the administration—especially Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner—for failing to rein in the banks…”

  33. DeDude says:

    There are much better people who have been highly critical of the administration. It is not likely that those people would be chosen – or pass Senate hearings. So among those that have a chance of being asked, I think he would be a very good choice.

  34. Lukey says:

    I think that would be an interesting choice. I believe I would be okay with it. I thought Paul O’Neill was one of the better recent Treasury Chiefs and Bloomberg might be of a like mind. But he might well suffer the same fate as O’Neill when his pronouncements run counter to the prevailing spin out of the White House…

  35. AHodge says:

    shiela bair thot ok and not too old 4 yrs age
    bloomberg good

  36. Expat says:

    Ok, let’s try this…why are you supporting the most qualified person for the job when all of these highly qualified people have gotten us here in the first place?

    Do we really need another rich white guy running a government agency? Can’t we find someone who is not corrupt, wealthy, and white? Or should we just hand over all our money and children to the Ruling Class now to avoid the rush in the New Year?

    And this is coming from a rich, middle-aged white guy, by the way.


    BR: I disagree with your assessment of Larry Summers or Tim Geithner as “qualified.” Robert Rubin was singularly unqualified. Maybe Hank Paulson was qualified, but he made some terrible decisions

  37. rd says:

    Can’t be any worse than the last two. I don’t think he is enough of a boot licker to get the position though, which is probably one of the reasons why he would probably be a good one.

    I think Bloomberg would be a viable candidate. The Treasury Secretary is an interesting combination of high level policy and technical minutiae of bond markets and government financing. He clearly has the background to do both well. He is one of the few people who would probably do it as a true public service with more than enriching Wall Street firms in mind.

  38. hammerandtong2001 says:

    Mr Bloomberg’s regulatory mandate would require him to oversee his customers.

    Bloomberg’s $billions flow to him through software licenses and the trading terminals which sit on the desk of every trader, at every big bank and institution, every where.

    I don’t see him as Treasury Secretary.

  39. rhkaplan says:

    Who wants another New York influenced Treasury Secretary? Bloomberg is qualified because he wants to limit the size of soft drinks? Really????
    Of course most of the libs who follow TBP wouldn’t consider Ron Paul. At least he would have a different focus.

  40. Expat says:

    @BR: If Geithner, Rubin, and Summers are unqualified, what makes Bloomberg qualified? And if Paulson was qualified but still a criminal, a fascist, and the poster child for evil banksterism, what does that leave us with?

    how about putting a strict marxist into the position? Or a hard-line creationist? What about an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi? Is there any way any of those three could possibly screw up the economy, screw over humanity, and enrich the banks any more than their predecessors?

    Frankly, go ahead with Bloomberg. It doesn’t matter who has the position any more. I only ask that all cabinet member be required to testify to Congress in public six times a year and that waterboarding be used to elicit their full and docile cooperation. Is that really too much to ask?

  41. sharpie says:

    Bloomberg would definitely take it if it came with an option to buy….the Presidency in 2016.

  42. 873450 says:

    Media Consolidation + Wall Street + revolving doors to Treasury and White House will give Bloomberg more conflicts than Paulson had.

    He owns the 2nd or 3rd biggest soapbox in the U.S. and can accomplish more of his own agenda outside government. (Firearms Legislation+ Global Warming + Biotech in USA + Computer Tech in NYC + NYC Affordable Housing+ etc.) He is also preoccupied with recording a Bloomberg Legacy (inattention hurt his 3rd term performance), buying more media properties, setting up foundations, trusts, think tanks, school grants, etc. to make his soap box bigger. All of this will be marginalized sitting on a back burner if he goes to Treasury.

    Firearms Legislation
    Bloomberg will (hopefully) take the lead against the Kochs, NRA and phony 2nd Amendment patriots on firearms legislation. Nobody else can compete against them in that game at that level for a sustained period of time and it will be a long term battle. Obama will take a baby step, call it major reform and then forget about it. Without strong media support (Obama barely supports his own domestic policies) any type of national firearms legislation that could turn the tide back to sanity and reality will be DOA or more likely unenforced.

    It’s doubtful Bloomberg can ever work for anyone else. He wanted to buy the White House four years ago and was willing to spend $1 billion. He quietly spent $50-60 million in preparation, but the numbers didn’t work out. He needed Hilary v. Rudy to open a large whole in the middle of the electorate for him to buy. Thwarted, he scrambled tossing out the NYS Constitution for a 3rd term, buying the GOP to get his name on the ballot (Remember, he left the GOP to run for POTUS), buying the NYC Council to enact enabling legislation (which awarded them 3rd term opportunities and/or private sector employment working for Bloomberg) and buying the right judges. Amazingly, he spent more than $100 million campaigning for a 3rd term and it turned out to be a very close race. I seriously doubt the NY residents will forgive him for buying a 3rd term.

    Finally, he doesn’t like spending time in the poison atmosphere that is Washington D.C. For the same reasons (Albany) he declined to run for NYS governor.

  43. Moss says:

    No way. Obama will pick some insider.

  44. mick says:

    I have logged in simply to say that you, Barry Ritholtz, cannot possibly be serious about Bloomberg. You don’t think he bears a huge measure of responsibility for the extent of the Sandy debacle? This city more and more resembles the city of Bladerunner–even without factoring in this latest disaster. This rogue police department? Stop and search madness. Construction to the moon thanks to rotten buildings dept. (and falling cranes). Triumph of the banksters. Whoever called this greatest city on earth can’t possibly live here–maybe plays here. Playground for young and reckless. No affordable housing for those not in finance. Bloomberg is Prince of Peeves: no large sodas! Such a small mind.


    BR: 1) No, I don’t think he deserves the blame for Sandy

    2) I LOVE Bladerunner . . .

  45. mick says:

    i love bladerunner too! but i’d rather not live in it.
    i don’t blame him for weather of course, but for lack for preparation–long term preparation (e.g., protection of con ed station that knocked out lower manhatten (i live in the village); e.g., after irene it was obvious the area along the hudson was vulnerable and now those new richard meier glass buildings, westbeth, nearly all buildings along that new park, are out for six months or so.) and preparation in the few days just before storm hit (why did only goldman sachs have sandbags>).

  46. l_emmerdeur says:

    Hi Barry, sorry to post in an old thread, but did you ever get a chance to look at the NYC fiscal/debt numbers? You questioned me via Twitter when I mentioned NYC debt had doubled during Bloomberg’s tenure, which would IMO make him a poor Treasury candidate. Not trolling here, I am curious as to others’ opinions on this matter.