Monday night, Treasury Secretary Tiny Tim Geithner, in the midst of an otherwise yawner interview on the PBS TV Charlie Rose Show, issued forth with hot protests, when Rose asked an understated question about Geithner's overfriendliness with banks, based on the information of Neil Barofsky, former Inspector General for TARP. In the ensuing hours, Geithner's protests were then featured on today's CBS TV Morning Show, run on Bloomberg TV and wires, and headlined in today's Politico, "Geithner Denies He's Cozy With Banks." Here is a composite of quotes, as run in the various media, from the original:
ROSE: [Barofsky] raises this question, "Was Tim Geithner too friendly to the banks, uh, because he knew them from his years at the New York Fed."
GEITHNER: You know, I'm deeply offended by that. I find that deeply offensive. You know, it's the result of a urban myth, uh, significantly. A lot of people thought and wrote in publications of record that I spent my life at Goldman Sachs rather than as a public servant, which is what I'd done with my life. A lot of people thought the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was a bank — a private bank — rather than the fire station of the financial system. And people were deeply misled about the basic choices we faced and the alternatives we confronted in that context. A lot of people, including many of my critics, said we went out and gave and lost trillions of dollars of the American taxpayers' money at that time. Deeply misleading. Terribly damaging to confidence. And the cost of that has been very damaging to the President and I think damaging to the integrity of the basic effort. What— again, what we try to do is protect.
ROSE: Why do you think that's true? Why do you think that urban myth is out there?
GEITHNER: Because it was convenient for the critics; I don't know.
ROSE: But you have a pulpit. He has a pulpit, and—
GEITHNER: But it was a clean, verifiable, factual thing. And not fair. Not fair to the President and not fair to me.
Regarding LIBOR rate-rigging specifically, Bloomberg reports Geithner's further remarks in the Rose interview. Writer Ian Katz notes that,
"Geithner was president of the New York Fed for more than five years, including during the 2008 financial crisis. [In the interview] Geithner reiterated his view that he was aggressive in expressing concerns about manipulation of the London interbank offered rate while at the New York Fed in 2008.
"'We moved quite quickly to try to get the British to address it and make sure that we brought it to the attention of U.S. regulators,' he said."
Tuesday morning, Neil Barofsky issued corrections to Geithner's protests and denials. Barofsky filed in Twitter, he never has claimed Geithner spent his life working at Goldman Sachs. And Barofsky never claimed in advance, that TARP would cost U.S. taxpayers trillions of dollars.