'This Week' Transcript: Timothy Geithner

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

ByABC News
March 22, 2009, 7:06 AM

Mar. 29, 2009 — -- ABC'S "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS"

MARCH 29, 2009

SPEAKERS: GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST

SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY TIMOTHY F. GEITHNER

[*] STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to "This Week."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We put in place a comprehensive strategydesigned to attack this crisis on all fronts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Our headliner this morning, the man behindObama's plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEITHNER: We made some significant progress.

We have a moment of opportunity now.

We believe we have to provide very substantial forms offinancing.

(UNKNOWN): Today we love Geithner. Two weeks ago, we didn'tlike him. We thought he was nothing. Today we like him. He's agenius.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: In his first Sunday interview, the secretary ofthe Treasury, Tim Geithner.

Plus, Geithner's most prominent critic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: It's a plan to rearrange the deckchairs and hope that that keeps us from hitting the iceberg.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman joins ourroundtable, with George Will, Cokie Roberts and Matthew Dowd.

And as always, the Sunday funnies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Michelle Obama's planting a vegetable garden on theWhite House lawn. You know the economy is bad when the Obamas areafraid of running out of food.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello again. Last week, he was under fire; thisweek, he was everywhere, rolling out new proposals to shore upAmerica's finances. And today, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner joinsus for his first Sunday morning interview. Welcome to "This Week."

GEITHNER: Thanks, George. Good to be here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you lay out the first phrase of the bank planback in February. The Dow drops 382 points. This week, you laid outthe new phase of the bank plan, 500-point rise over the course of theweek. Do you feel like the comeback kid?

GEITHNER: George, we're facing still a lot of challenges. Can'tjudge a plan on the reaction one day one week. But we've done a lotin these eight weeks. You know, the president's housing plan hasalready helped bring down interest rates. Millions of Americans noware going to be able to take advantage of lower interest rates. Ifyou take a typical family living in a $180,000 home, the ratereductions we've already seen could save them as much as $2,000 ayear.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we did see a lot of encouraging signs in theeconomy this week. New home sales were up. Mortgage refinances, asyou pointed out, were up. Even durable goods orders were up, andinventories went down. And of course, a 20-percent rise in the stockmarket over the last couple of weeks. What does this tell you? Whatshould Americans know right now about where the economy is and whetherrecover is in sight?

GEITHNER: Well, these are encouraging signs, and it's good whenyou see the new surprise on the upside, rather than the other way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you were surprised?

GEITHNER: Well, I think these are, again, they came in aboveexpectations, much (inaudible) -- that's a very good sign. But it'svery important for people to understand that, you know, it took us along time to get into this mess. It's going to take us a while to getout of this. Progress is not going to be even. It's not going to besteady. The really important thing is that the administration isgoing to do what is necessary working with the Congress to making surewe're putting in place very powerful programs to get Americans back towork.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're barraged by economic statistics everyday. I'm sure there are a bunch of screens in your office. What isthe single most important statistic that you are looking at, thatyou're tracking to say, when this turns, we're out of the woods?

GEITHNER: There is no single number you have to look at. Youneed to look at what people are doing with the income and the savingsthey have. Are they spending? Are businesses expanding? Are theyhiring more people? Are interest rates coming down? Is creditstarting to flow again? You have to look at that broad suite ofthings. There's no single number that gives you the health -- themeasure of the health of the economy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What is the next shoe to drop? In talking tobusiness leaders over the last couple of weeks, I hear a lot ofconcern about the commercial real estate market. And from bankersespecially, they're concerned that as unemployment rises, their creditcard defaults could really go through the roof?

GEITHNER: There's no doubt there's more losses ahead for thefinancial system, but George, we've had a lot of adjustment already.One of the things about the American economy is, change happens herewith brutal force, much more quickly than it happens around the world.And we've already had -- you know, we're 18 months into this, andwe've had...

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's a long recession.

GEITHNER: It is a long recession, and it's a -- it's beendramatic and painful and brutal in some ways, in part becauseadjustments happen here so quickly. But that's a good thing too,because that means more of that adjustment process is behind us.

Now, the important thing, though, is that we keep at it. Youknow, the big mistake governments make in recessions is they put thebrakes on too early.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that what happened during the depression? Isthat what Franklin Roosevelt did?

GEITHNER: That's one thing that happened in the depression.It's happened in Japan, too. It's happened in a lot of countries inthe world. They see that first glimmer of light, and the impetus topolicy fades and people are putting on the brakes, and we're not goingto do that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But I wonder about, as you look in the long term-- and you believe we're obviously going to come out of this at somepoint. You believe the recovery will start, what, the end of thisyear?

GEITHNER: Most private economists believe you're going to find amore durable bottom in the second half of this year and then havegrowth come back.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But even if we come out of that, a lot ofeconomists worry that this recovery is going to feel like a recession,that we're going to have a jobless recovery. Very -- I see younodding your head. You believe that?

GEITHNER: I think a lot -- people worry about this. You have arecession like this, which is born out of a period where peopleborrowed too much, and we let our financial system take on too muchrisk. The risk in that conduct is you have a longer, slower, moregradual process of adjustment and recovery.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And some experts believe that we're reallyentering a brand new world. I was struck by a piece of research I sawfrom a branch of Citigroup. This was -- and I'm going to share itwith our viewers. They're saying, "Don't be in a state of denial, weare really entering a brand new economic world even after therecovery, because for so long the U.S. has been acting like aleveraged hedge fund."

And they go on to say: "Not only is the lifestyle and wealthcreation likely to be unsustainable going forward, but if you believe,as we do, that we've been operating in a leveraged economy, then thenew normal in terms of economic data, profitability of companies, etcetera, may be a shadow of the past."

So do Americans have to get used to the idea that the boom timesreally aren't coming back?

GEITHNER: Well, we're going to emerge out of this stronger. Andwe're going to do that because the president and the Congress aregoing to make sure that we have the government doing a better job ofthings it needs to do.

So we have a more productive economy in the future, bettereducation outcomes, better health care system, better energy policies,stronger infrastructure.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Stronger, but as affluent as we were in thepast?

GEITHNER: Well, you know, we want to have sustainable growth.We don't have -- we don't want to have a recovery which is going to beartificial and short-lived, just produce the seeds of the next crisis.

We want to have a durable recovery based on a stronger foundationthat has a stronger, more productive economy emerging through it wherethe gains are more broadly shared across the economy as a whole.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So income inequality goes down?

GEITHNER: It should go down. Again, you know, if you look atthe record of performance in the '90s, you know, we had very strongproductivity growth during a period of fiscal discipline, fiscalresponsibility, strong private investment, and the gains were sharedmuch more broadly.

We can do that as a country, but it requires getting thisgovernment to do a better job of doing things only governments can do.That's why I assume important we get better outcomes. That's whyfixing our health care system and get costs growing more slowly is soimportant. That's why we need a better energy policy. And that's whyinfrastructure needs to be improved.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But do you really believe we're going to getback to what we saw in the 1990s in terms of the kind of affluence wesaw across the board?

GEITHNER: George, I think Americans should be optimistic aboutthe future of this country. We are a strong, remarkably resilientcountry. We are still the most productive economy in the world bymany measures.

We have a university system that is the envy of the world.People with an idea still want to come to the -- America to growbusiness, build on that idea. That's a great source of strength forour recovery.

But we need this government, though, to do a better job of doingwhat governments have to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you are obviously trying to do that withyour plans to shore up the banking system. You laid out what to doabout these legacy toxic assets in the banking system this week. And a lot of people are wondering, will it actually work? Thestock market definitely seemed to like it, so did a lot of experts.As you know, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman was not afan. And I want to show what he wrote this week in The New YorkTimes.

He said when he read this plan, it gave him a sense of despair.And he went on to say: "Financial executives literally bet their bankson the belief that there was no housing bubble and the related beliefthat unprecedented levels of household debt were no problem. Theylost that bet and no amount of financial hocus-pocus, for that is whatthe Geithner plan amounts to, will change that fact."

Financial hocus-pocus.

GEITHNER: George, this is a piece of a series of initiativeswe've put in place to help get the financial system doing what itneeds to do, which is to provide the credit necessary for recovery.You know, economies depend on financial systems. They're what is --provide the oxygen, the blood that economies need to grow.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But he says it's just not going to work, thatthese banks are insolvent, and that even if you put more capital inthem, eventually you're going to have to take them over.

GEITHNER: But I just wanted to -- let's step back for a sec. Sothis is piece of a broad framework of initiatives we're undertaking tohelp restore the strength of the financial system. Part of our plan-- a core part of our plan involves making sure banks have enoughcapital to provide the lending we're going to need to get recoveryback on track.

Now banks are going to need -- some banks are going to need somelarge amounts of assistance, and we're going to make sure that thatassistance comes with conditions, designed to make sure theyrestructure, provide accountability on boards of management, thatthese institutions emerge cleaner, stronger going forward.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But one of the things you're hearing from thebanks is in part because they don't want all of these newrestrictions, they may not sell these legacy assets.

GEITHNER: That is a risk. And it's very important that peoplerecognize that. To get out of this, we need banks to take a chance onbusinesses, to take risk again. We had a long period where banks weretaking too much risk. The challenge for us is that they take toolittle now.

And for us to get through this, we need investors and banks to bewilling to take a change again on providing credit to that businessthat has got a great idea and needs to grow, expand.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, one of the other criticisms is that theinvestors, especially in the plans to buy up these toxic assets, arenot taking all that much of a risk. They're going to put up $6 andthey're going to get 93 percent from the government. We will share onthe upside, yes, but they're protected against huge losses.

GEITHNER: George, let's just step back for a sec. The problemwe're facing on our financial system is that we -- banks made a bunchof loans, backed real estate that are now facing losses. And thoseloans are clogging up the financial system.

They're taking up room that could otherwise be used to providenew credits to a business or a family. Now we have two choices, wecan let -- leave that as it is, hope that banks earn their way out ofthis over time. That would be a mistake. That would leave us with astrong -- with a deeper, longer recession.

We're not prepared to adopt that basic strategy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But there is a third choice...

GEITHNER: There is another choice -- let me say, there's anotherchoice that a lot of people suggest is the government itself comes in,buys these assets, sets the pricing of an asset, takes on all of therisk in that strategy.

And that would leave the taxpayer taking on much more risk, muchgreater risk of loss over time. We don't think that's an appropriateapproach.

The approach we're adopting, though, is to have private investorscome in and put their capital risk alongside the government. Thathelps make sure we're using their incentive to set the price for theseassets, rather than having the government set the price and riskoverpaying.

This is a conservative structure. It's, sort of, basically likewhat happens when you buy a house, put money down, borrow it to buy ahouse. It's a more conservative structure than banks typically runwith. And we think it's a much better way, again, to make sure thetaxpayer's not taking on risk the taxpayer should not take.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're saying your proposal is the middlecourse. I guess there's a fourth option that Senator McCain lays out,other Republicans have laid it out. He says, just go in and shut themdown.

GEITHNER: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: These banks ought to be shut down. He says theyshould be taken over, their management and shareholders suffer theconsequences, and their assets resold to private-sector entities.

What's wrong with that idea?

GEITHNER: Well, George, the approach we're adopting, again, isto make sure that there's capital in the financial system where weneed capital. And that capital will come with conditions.

As the senator said, make sure these institutions emergestronger, not weaker. We don't want to be sustaining the weak at theexpense of the strong. But our system...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But is that plan B, if your plan fails, is thatplan B, go in, take them over, shut them down eventually, unwind theirassets?

GEITHNER: The way I would describe it, George, is that we needto move to make sure the banking system is able to provide the creditrecovery needs.

When they do that, again, with strong conditions to protect thetaxpayer, make sure they restructure where they need to restructure.

But, you know, our system doesn't just depend on banks. In atypical -- in a typical market, more than 40 percent of lending comesfrom outside of banks, so in the securities markets, through thesecondary markets that are so critical to student loans, small-business lending, consumer lending.

And so we have a very aggressive program in place to help providecredit directly, going around banks, get those markets working again.

Now, this is not something any country's faced in the past. Weare moving much more aggressively than the U.S. moved in the S&Lcrisis, than Japan moved in the 90s. We're moving at a much earlierstage to help preempt failure, make the system stronger, with toughconditions to protect the taxpayer.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, as you said, this is likely to cost farmore in capital injections for the banks. And I guess the bigquestion is, where is that money going to come from?

According to our calculations, there was only about, going intotoday, about $32 billion, maybe a little more, left in the TARP, thefinancial rescue program.

Late last night, the Treasury Department said that number isactually far higher, more than $130 billion. That is a hugedifference. And it is the first time the Treasury Department has everput a number on what is left over.

Where did you come up with that extra $100 billion?

GEITHNER: George, we have roughly $135 billion left ofuncommitted resources. Less is out the door, but in terms of, if youlook at what's not committed yet, it's roughly, you know, $135billion.

Now, that -- that estimate includes a judgment, a veryconservative judgment about how much money is likely to come back frombanks, that are strong enough not to need this capital, now, to getthrough a recession.

But that's a reasonably conservative estimate. And it gives us-- and this is very important -- substantial resources to move aheadwith this broad-based suite of initiatives to help get the financialsystem back in the business of providing credit. STEPHANOPOULOS: So does that mean, now, that with this $130billion, if you're correct, you're going to take care of the autocompanies; you're going to take care of unforeseen problems; these newcapital injections in the banks.

Earlier in the year, the president and you seemed very concernedthat -- and you warned the Congress -- we're going to be coming backfor money.

Is that less likely now, now that you have more than $130 billionleft in the TARP?

GEITHNER: George, the important thing is that we are going towork with the Congress to make sure that we have the resources neededto do this right.

Again, the lesson of financial crises is governments tend to dotoo little; they wait too long to escalate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right, but I talk to people on Capitol Hill alot, and there is no support, right now, for adding more money to theTARP.

Can you get through the rest of this year with the money youhave?

GEITHNER: We have substantial resources. We're going to usethem quickly, as carefully as we can, make sure they're diverted tothings that are going to get credit flowing again. And we'll crossthat bridge when ewe come to it, in terms of whether we needadditional resources.

And, of course, if we come to that point, we'll go to theCongress and give them the strongest case possible and help themunderstand why this would be cheaper over the long run, for us to moveaggressively...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But are you farther away from the bridge thanyou thought you'd be a few months ago?

GEITHNER: No, I think we're about where we were. You know, thisis not easy for people. I mean, this is people -- there is a deepamount of public anger and frustration about the fact the Americaneconomy is suffering so much damage from the consequence of people whotook too much risk.

And, you know, the tragedy of the financial crisis is they are --the damage is brutal; it's indiscriminate. It affects not just thepeople who took too much risk but people who were careful andresponsible in their decisions.

But the important thing is these things don't bring themselvesout without catastrophic damage.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So Congress should be braced for anotherrequest?

GEITHNER: No, I'm not saying that. I just saying that theimportant thing -- and Congress, again, has already moved, really,before the administration took office, to authorize a very substantialamount of resources. And we're moving very quickly to put those towork for the American financial system. And where we've done that...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But they took the funds out of the budget to payfor the next round of bailouts.

GEITHNER: Well, I wouldn't -- you know, that was about '09 -- Imean, that was about the '010 budget, not the '09 budget. But lookwhat's happened already, George. You know, where we had moved, and wemoved very, very quickly, much more quickly than governments hadtypically in the past. And if you look at what's happened in housing,even in small-business lending, you're seeing significant effectsalready in opening up these markets, bringing interest rates down, andthat has very powerful effects in the American economy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about -- last week was a much worseweek for you than this week. AIG, the whole outrage over the bonuses.And one of the members of Congress you've worked closely with, CharlesRangel, the chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, was very tough onyou this Friday over the AIG issue. He lumped you and Secretary ofTreasury Paulson together as coming out of the culture of Wall Street.Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHARLES B. RANGEL, D-N.Y.: They drink a different water.They breathe a different air. They don't know what pain is, and sogetting a $6 million bonus is just natural to them. They don't knowshame. They don't know how to apologize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, the irony is, you've never worked for aWall Street firm...

GEITHNER: Thank you for saying that. For reminding...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But many of the critics have made exactly thesame point, that you're -- because you've worked around it for solong, you were too beholden to the Wall Street culture, and that'swhat explains the blind spot on AIG.

GEITHNER: Not at all, George. As you said, I've worked all mylife in public service. I've spent my entire professional lifehelping this government and this country do a better job of dealingwith financial crises and helping protect the economy from the damagethese causes.

I would not spend a penny on helping a bank for the purpose ofhelping a bank. Everything we're doing is for the people that dependon this financial system. Every time we provide assistance to thefinancial institutions, it's only because we need them to do a betterjob of getting credit to help reduce the risk of a deeper recession.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What did you learn from the whole AIG bonusexperience? How could you have handled it differently?

GEITHNER: You know, I don't think our choices would havechanged. We had no good choices in those conducts. These werecontracts that were set well before the government came in, before EdLiddy became CEO. We're a nation of laws. We cannot run thiscountry, expect our country and our economy to work, businesses tofunction if there is an ongoing fear the government will come in andretroactively change the terms of existing contract. So we had nogood choices in that contracts (ph), but we moved very, very quicklyto make sure that we were going to get them to renegotiate futurepayments, that there were strong conditions on compensation goingforward. That's what we're going to do.

Now, where we have the chance to go back and recoup, where therewas evidence of malfeasance of fraud, we will do that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And some are saying you should go back andrecoup on another, much bigger issue having to do with AIG, and that'sall the payments they made to their so-called counterparties. Let meshow our viewers who got the money from AIG after they got agovernment bailout -- $13 billion to Goldman Sachs; $12 billion toBank of America; more than $30 billion to a series of foreign banks.That has upset a lot of members of Congress. Elijah Cummings and 26other members of Congress have written a letter saying they want toknow why an attempt wasn't made to renegotiate.

Let me read exactly what they said. "Was any attempt made torenegotiate and close out these contracts with haircuts? If not, whynot? What was the benefit of the decision to pay 100 percent of facevalue to the American taxpayers who provided the bailout funds, andhow did it support the goal of ensuring the stability of the economicsystem?"

Now, Goldman Sachs, for example. Their chief financial officersaid he had no material economic exposure to AIG. So why weren't theyforced to take a discount?

GEITHNER: George, we came into this crisis as a country withoutthe tools necessary to contain the damage of a financial crisis likethis. In a case of a large, complex institution like AIG, thegovernment has no ability, had no meaningful ability to come in earlyto help contain the fire, contain the damage, prevent the spread ofthat fire. Restructure the firm, change contracts where necessary,and helped make sure that the financial system gets through this...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it would have been the right thing to do,right?

GEITHNER: If we had the legal authority, that's what we wouldhave done. But without that legal authority, we had no good choices.We were caught between these terrible choices of letting Lehman fail-- and you saw the catastrophic damage that caused to the financialsystem -- or coming in and putting huge amounts of taxpayer dollars atrisk, like we did at AIG, to keep the thing going, unwind it slowly atless damage to the ultimate economy and taxpayer.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So how about now, Goldman Sachs is taking othergovernment money. They got this $13 billion whole from AIG.Congressman Brad Sherman and others have said, they should give that$13 billion back.

GEITHNER: George, the important thing is, we have no legalability now. That's why I went to Congress last week, to propose abroad change in resolution authority so that we have the capacity todo what we do with banks now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But wouldn't it be the right thing for Goldman?

GEITHNER: To give that money back?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Uh-huh.

GEITHNER: Look, again, the government of the United States in asituation like this has to make sure that we're containing the damagethat might come from default by a major complex financial institution.We need better legal authority to do that, did not have that authoritycoming into this crisis. It's a tragic...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So nothing to be done looking back, but goingforward, that's exactly the authority you would want.

GEITHNER: Absolutely. Our obligation now, again, is to defuseand help unwind this deeply complicated problem that AIG presents.But we want to work with the Congress to put in place stronger tools,stronger resolution authority, so the government can come in morequickly, earlier, before things have passed the point of no return,contain the damage, prevent the fire from spreading, restructure thefirm, have it emerge stronger, at less risk to the taxpayer. That'swhat we need. We should have had this before this crisis, but wedidn't. But we need to move quickly now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about government debt. A lot ofAmericans more and more are concerned about that. According to theCongressional Budget Office, in 10 years, the government debt will be82 percent of GDP. And I'm going to read a question that came in fromone of our viewers, Bruce Gower of Rock Hill, South Carolina. Heasks, "how do you justify printing money out of thin air and theamount of debt you are subjecting future generations to with thisbudget? Who cares if roads are smoother if I or my children can'tafford a car to drive because of the hyperinflation that had takenaway all their spending power?"

Are you worried about hyperinflation down the road?

GEITHNER: That's not going to happen in this country, will neverhappen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why?

GEITHNER: Will never happen. Because we have a strong,independent Fed, with a clear authority from the Congress to keepinflation low at -- stable at low levels going forward.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The Fed has been putting so much money into thesystem.

GEITHNER: But that's not going to create the risk ofhyperinflation in the future.

We have a strong independent Federal Reserve with a very strongmandate from the Congress, and they will do what's necessary to keepinflation low and stable over time.

But George, just step back for one second. You know, when I leftthe Treasury in 2001, we had large surpluses -- large surplusesprojected. We started this administration with a $1.3 trilliondeficit and a deepening recession, enormously challenging globalfinancial crisis. The cost of fixing that crisis is going to requirelarger deficits in the short term, but the best way to make sure weget those deficits down in the future is to get recovery established,get -- make the economy stronger going forward. That's the best wayto get us back on a path to fiscal responsibility.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And from what you were saying earlier, you'reactually more concerned about putting the brakes on too quickly.

GEITHNER: That would cause more damage to the productivecapacity of this economy and would risk larger deficits in the future.Again, the big mistake governments make in financial crises is to sitback, hope it's going to work itself out, put the brakes on tooquickly, not act aggressively enough, and we can't afford to make thatmistake.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Announcement coming tomorrow on autos. And Ihave a question that my friend George Will gave for you, and he saidwhy is Chrysler too big to fail but Studebaker wasn't?

GEITHNER: George, I'm not going to get ahead of the president'sannouncement tomorrow, but it's important to know that we want to havea strong automobile industry. We want it to emerge from this periodof challenge stronger. That's going to require a lot ofrestructuring. We're prepared as a government to help that process ifwe believe it's going to provide the basis for a stronger industry inthe future that's not going to rely on government support.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But is Chrysler really too big to fail?

GEITHNER: George, I'm not going to get ahead of the president's-- as I said, it's very important for our country that we have astrong automobile industry going forward.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We're just about out of time, but you -- therewas a real sign that you had made it in the Washington culture just acouple of weeks ago, parodied on Saturday Night Live just two weeksago. Here's what they said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (UNKNOWN): This $420 billion will be placed in a special fundand will go to the first individual who comes up with a workable planto solve the banking crisis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what did you think when you saw that?

GEITHNER: I didn't see it, but my kids saw it. They thought itwas pretty funny. But you know, one of the great things in this jobis people have a lot of ideas. We get ideas all the time.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Even from Saturday Night Live?

GEITHNER: Well, not from Saturday Night Live, but we get it --from people who are smart, thoughtful, credible, have been part ofsolving these crises in other countries, and we listen to everybody.We have got no pride of authorship in ideas, and we're going to do --the only test that matters to us, is, is it going to work? Is itgoing to get credit flowing again at acceptable risk, least cost tothe taxpayer?

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what's the most important single thingyou've learned over the last three months?

GEITHNER: That to get through this, governments need to act.Great obligation responsibility for governments to act to solve thesethings. The market will not solve this, and the great risk for us iswe do too little, not that we do too much.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Secretary Geithner, thanks very much for yourtime this morning.

GEITHNER: Thank you, George.

END

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