Geithner Speaks Out On China, The Economy, Demonizing Banks, His Job

Here's a video interview of US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, provided courtesy of Bloomberg Television.

See the video to the right.

Geithner spoke to Bloomberg Television's Chief Washington Correspondent Peter Cook for an exclusive interview Friday. The Secretary discussed the jobs numbers out last week, the US's relationship with China and currency issues, as well as the overall state of the U.S. economy.

Highlights

On the jobs report:

'It shows we're getting stronger and the economy's now creating jobs. I think its created jobs in four of the last five months, and I think it's a good sign that it's a good solid report you saw the private sector across the country again start to add jobs again.

'I think it's important that we work with Congress still to put in place some additional targeted support for small business, small business credit, help encourage private investment, help state and local governments, you know, keep teachers in the classroom. So we have some more work to do, but I think the economy is definitely getting stronger'.

On when Americans can expect to see unemployment numbers turn around:

'It's high still because this crisis caused a huge amount of damage, just enormous damage. We haven't seen it since the Great Depression really. It's going to take some time for us to heal that damage, for the rate to come down.

'The economy's now growing. The private sector is now adding jobs. You're seeing hours increase. That's going to generate more income for Americans. And that'll help improve confidence and that'll help strengthen the economy itself.

'I think we've made a lot of progress. We've got some work to do still. It's going to take some time to heal the damage, but I think the economy's getting better'.

n very successful, the administration's been very successful and have brought strategy to, again, restore some stability to the financial system'.

'The financial system is in a much stronger position today than it was three months ago, six months ago, nine months, a year ago because we acted so forcefully to put private capital back into the banking system and try to heal what was broken'.

'We're going to keep working to make sure that, again, we're keeping mortgage interest rates low for all Americans and help reinforce the modest signs of improvement we're starting to see in the housing markets'.

On whether there will be a double dip in housing:

'This crisis caused a lot of damage and you still see a substantial damage in housing markets. A lot of people still facing risk of foreclosure, but we're making some progress in helping reduce that risk'.

'The program we put in place has not just brought down mortgage interest rates across the country, help stabilize house prices across much of the country, but a million Americans now are benefiting from an average of $600 a month in lower monthly payments on their mortgage debt'.

'That's a substantial amount of money in the hands of the American people. It's very important, very powerful, and we've announced a series of actions over the last couple of weeks to try to make sure that program's reaching more Americans'.

On the Treasury Department's annual currency report:

'It's very important that China move. I'm quite confident they will decide it's in their interest to move. We're going to try to make sure we're going to maximize the chance that they move quickly, and we're going to continue to make sure we're talking about the broad range of economic issues we face with China'.

'We're going to use the G20 process for that because this is an issue that matters to all countries, not just the United States. And again, but our strategy's going to be designed to increase that as China does decide to do what's in their own interest, which is to start to let their currency start to move up again. And that'll be part of making sure we have a more healthy global recovery in place'.

'We've got a very strong relationship with China. We have a huge national security interest with China, common interests not just in Iran but in North Korea and around the world'.

'We have a very strong economic relationship. The U.S. exports to China are actually growing quite rapidly and what we want to do is make sure that China is growing. They're buying more from America. More of their growth comes from domestic consumption less from exports, and that U.S. firms are able to compete on a level playing field in China. That's going to guide our interest with China as China understand and China expects'.

His thoughts on risk and size of banks:

'The key question is to make them less risky. As you saw in this crisis you saw relatively small institutions bring the entire financial system to the edge of collapse. So if you don't constrain the risks they take, limit the amount of risk they take then you won't have solved the problem you want to prevent in future crises. That's the key thing that that's the key test of any credible reform plan'.

'I think that you want to make sure you're doing this not just for banks. You want to make sure you do it for investment banks, for other entities that are doing essentially the same things that banks are doing. That's the important thing'.

On whether banks have been unfairly demonized:

'The people who led our nation's banks made a bunch of judgments that caused a catastrophic loss of trust and confidence in our financial system, and did really bring our system to the edge of collapse, force the government of the United States to step in and do deeply offensive unacceptable things to protect the economy from the mistakes they made'.

'It is going to take a long time for them to earn back the trust and confidence of their customers and of the American people. And but we're going to make sure we design a system that is more robust to the risk they take - they make mistakes in the future. We're going to design a system that doesn't depend on them making better judgments in the future. We're going to constrain the choices they make'.

Responding to criticism about his performance as Treasury Secretary:
 
'I have a difficult, important, complicated job. I get advice from people all the time, all walks of life, and I'm going to keep doing what I can do to help the president fix what's broken and make this economy work better for all Americans'.

'We've made a lot of progress because he was willing to make some difficult, tough choices. They're unpopular choices. You act it generates controversy. People are not going to agree with everything that we do, but the test you should hold me to and hold the president to is are we doing things that are making things better? And we've got a lot of work to do but we've made a lot of progress'.

Source - Bloomberg TV

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