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Geithner's First Public Test(5:44) How Obama inherited a financial crisis that would define his first term

The Buzz Around That Tim Geithner Scene…

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The Obama administration arrived in Washington in early 2009 facing the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

As we explain in the above excerpt from episode three of Money, Power and Wall Street, expectations were high for the new president’s economic plan, and the man he tasked with the turnaround, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

But Geithner’s first public test — a February press conference about the administration’s plan to conduct “stress tests” on the nation’s 19 largest banks — didn’t go over well. In fact, the markets dropped almost 400 points that day.

This scene about the speech and its fallout generated a lot of feedback on Twitter during last night’s broadcast, and we’ve curated some of the most interesting reactions below:

 

Lee Sachs, who is referenced above, was Geithner’s deputy at Treasury. He told FRONTLINE that the administration made the mistake of setting expectations too high.  But Noam Scheiber, who wrote The Escape Artists, put the blame on President Obama:

 

Austan Goolsbee, who was one of President Obama’s earliest economic advisers and was intimately involved in policy, doesn’t associate the market’s precipitous drop with Geithner’s speaking abilities — he argued it was something else:

(He clarified later, “search” = “speech” in the tweet above.)

 

In our live chat today, FRONTLINE producer Mike Wiser and The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza weighed in on Goolsbee’s criticisms of how Geithner’s speech was characterized in the film:

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Watch the rest of the film here to find out how those stress tests ultimately played out, and track the Twitter discussion about Money, Power and Wall Street by following the #FRONTLINE hashtag.

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