Bill Clinton Had Unusual CEO Advice for Geithner

Slitting Lloyd Blankfein's throat wouldn't help in the long run, said former president

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted May 9, 2014 6:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – The New York Times magazine has a lengthy profile of Tim Geithner ahead of Monday's release of the former Treasury chief's new book, and one bit in particular involving Bill Clinton is getting a lot of attention. Geithner had asked Clinton's advice on appeasing populist anger in dealing with Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs:

  • “You could take Lloyd Blankfein into a dark alley and slit his throat, and it would satisfy them for about two days," said Clinton. "Then the blood lust would rise again.”

The Washington Post thinks that's interesting in the context of the 2016 election, considering that it could pit Hillary Clinton, seen as a safe choice by Wall Street, against the more populist Elizabeth Warren. Some other highlights, as spotted by Politico:

  • Trying to leave: Geithner says he began pushing President Obama to let him step down in 2010, suggesting Hillary Clinton as his replacement. Obama resisted, however, even lobbying Geithner's wife, Carole. "I knew it was kind of a hopeless cause—that if he needed to stay, he needed to stay—but I was not easily convinced,” she tells the Times. “And that was probably a little surprising to the president.”
  • Too big to fail: As Treasury chief, Geithner went along with the administration's reforms to end the concept of too-big-to-fail banks, but now he's got a different take. During a lecture, when asked about whether the principle still exists, he answered, “Yeah, of course it does.” Ending too-big-to-fail was “like Moby-Dick for economists or regulators. It’s not just quixotic, it’s misguided.”

Then Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testifies  on Capitol Hill in 2012.
Then Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testifies on Capitol Hill in 2012.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
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