In the wake of Timothy Geithner’s contentious hearing on Capitol Hill last week–when a lone Texas Republican ginned up all sorts of controversy by calling for the Treasury Secretary’s resignation–the New York Post comes today with some speculation: Geithner out, Dimon in.
The president certainly likes talking to Jamie Dimon, the C.E.O. of J.P. Morgan Chase. Records show Mr. Dimon visited the White House six times in the administration’s first six months, twice as many as Lloyd Blankfein, his counterpart at famously cozy-to-power Goldman Sachs. (Vikram Pandit of Citigroup and Maurice Greenberg, formerly of A.I.G. also logged three visits. George Soros did them only one better, with four.)
The president, it would seem, trusts Mr. Dimon to put those complicated credit-default swaps in plain terms. “All right, I’ll talk to Jamie,” Mr. Obama once told another executive who was trying, in vain, to explain a banking matter. And the president, in turn, has gone to bat for Mr. Dimon, who knows him from his days running BankOne in Chicago, and who supported his run for the Senate back in 2004. “You know, keep in mind, though there are a lot of banks that are actually pretty well managed, JPMorgan being a good example, Jamie Dimon, the CEO there, I don’t think should be punished for doing a pretty good job managing an enormous portfolio,” Mr. Obama said last year.
So if any of the big-time, bailed-out C.E.O.s are going to succeed Mr. Geither, it would, it stands to reason, be Mr. Dimon. But with the populist outrage such that Goldman Sachs is refusing to throw a Christmas party–refusing, even, to allow employees to throw their own Christmas parties, with their own money in their own homes–could Mr. Dimon ever get confirmed? He’s promising to pay less in bonuses than Mr. Blankfein, but since when does populist outrage take a reasonable view of Wall Street? The man showed up in effigy as recently as last month.
And there’s the matter of whether Mr. Geithner is really going anywhere. The president has offered his support, and, it should be noted, Mr. Geithner is less than a year into the job. Even Paul O’Neill got two years from the Bush Administration. So consider this a trial balloon–an early one–to see if the idea of Mr. Dimon can weather Wall Street’s bonus season, in the not-inconceivable event that Mr. Geithner is still in bad odor next year.