The (Not So) Shortlist for Obama’s Cabinet

  • JJ Hornblass
  • November 5, 2008
  • 1

Despite Barack Obama’s election as president of the United States yesterday, the financial services sector remains in a perilous state, and that makes his cabinet choices all the more important.

We’ve gone deep into blog land to tally the names of prospective nominees for Obama’s banking-related cabinet positions.

But before we do that, we agree with some commentators who say Obama should rush to name his Treasury secretary and Council of Economic Advisors chairman so that they can begin the transition process. At the least, we think Obama should name a “transition” Treasury secretary to interface with current Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on TARP-related matters, many of which remain in flux.

Now to the list:


Timothy F. Geithner, the current president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, has the most mentions as a possible nominee. Geithner is also the vice chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee, and he’s been part of the triumverate on emergency bailout duty with Paulson and Bernanke.

Laurence Summers has the next most nods from prognosticators. Summers was the Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton.

Paul Volcker, the former Fed chairman and Obama advisor during the campaign, also receives many mentions.

From here the list gets long and sketchy. Robert Rubin, Sheila Bair, Eugene Ludwig, Laura Tyson, Warren Buffett, and Jon Corzine all get more than one mention as the possible nominee. Other names also thrown out there are Ron Paul, Jamie Dimon, Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulson, and Gary Gensler.

Only one name was mentioned as a possible deputy Treasury secretary: Richard L. “Jake” Siewert, Jr., White House press secretary under Clinton.


Austan Goolsbee, senior policy adviser to the campaign, University of Chicago economics professor, and a New York Times columnist, seems to have this one locked up. Also mentioned are David Cutler, Jason Furman, the director of economic policy for the campaign, and Gene Sperling. Cutler is the only one among the three to get more than one mention from blog world.


This one is more wide open with no clear leader among the candidates. By our tally, the names thrown out there are:

* Goolsbee
* Cutler
* Furman
* Michael Froman, former Treasury chief of staff, Citigroup executive and Harvard Law classmate of Obama
* Peter Orszag, current director of the U.S. Congressional Budget Office
* Jack Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1998 to 2001 and a principal architect of Clinton’s fiscal policy
* Jeffrey Liebman, professor of public policy at John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University


Jesse Jackson Jr. and Valerie Jarrett are the frontrunners for HUD secretary. Jarrett is a long-time advisor to Obama. Others getting mentions are Shaun Donovan, Shirley Franklin, and David Gottfried.


The competition for Commerce secretary is also one without a clear consensus choice. Unlike most of the other financial services-related cabin posts, the Commerce secretary appears as though he/she will be appointed primarily because of political patronage. That’s why Kathleen Sebelius, Penny Pritzker, and Olympia Snowe are on the list — all were ardent Obama supporters. Although he supported Hillary Clinton, Ed Rendell is also mentioned as a possible nominee, as is Goolsbee.


Finally, we come to OMB, which really hasn’t had a prominent role in a president’s candidate since the Reagan years. Regardless, two names for the post have surfaced: John Podesta and
Rep. Jim Cooper [D-Tenn.]. Podesta seems destined for at least some post in the Obama cabinet. Whether it is at OMB, we’ll find out soon enough. Already today Obama named Rep. Rahm Emanuel [D-Ill.] as his chief of staff. That means we may find out the names of all the nominations for the above cabinet positions even sooner still.

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JJ started the first iteration of Bank Innovation back in 2007, and has been working on it ever since. He also serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of Royal Media, Bank Innovation’s parent. He founded Royal in 1995 and oversees all aspects of the New York-based diversified media company. Prior to forming Royal, JJ was on the editorial staff of American Banker, the daily newspaper, and worked as an editor of a business magazine in Hong Kong. As a reporter and editor, he has won journalism awards from the National Press Foundation, Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Foundation, and the Reader’s Digest Foundation. He has a BS in Economics from Yeshiva University and a Master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was also a Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School of Banking. He lives in New York City with his wife, two daughters, and son. He counts among his accomplishments one New York City Marathon, two New York City Triathlons and the 2010 Father’s Day 5K, the first race he ever ran with his daughters. He can be reached at or 212-564-8972.

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One thought on “The (Not So) Shortlist for Obama’s Cabinet

  1. I don’t know, Tim. I’ll try to find out.

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