The most urgent needs facing the country are getting the economy moving with private investment and to bring unemployment down so that “everyone who wants a job, has a job,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in a speech Tuesday.
In the final presentation of the day at the annual meeting of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), Geithner, acknowledged that it was easier said than done when he called for more protections for consumers and investors.
In a one-on-one interview at the conference with talk show host Charlie Rose, Geithner added that companies need to be able to fail without damaging the economy. "We need to deliver the message that government won't come in and save them from their mistakes," he said.
Geithner also said that U.S. government wouldn’t be part owners of Citigroup and American International Group "for much longer." The government owns approximately 30% of Citigroup and as much as 80% of AIG, the embattled insurer, which has received up to $182 billion in bailout money.
"We had a screwed-up system,” Geithner said. “We had a system that had parts of it with heavy regulation and other parts with very little regulation. We had a system where risk could migrate over [to where there was little regulation] and we had a system where companies could choose their regulators." To make it right, he added, we have to have a “better mix of innovation and stability.”
Geithner also said that decision about a second stimulus package “doesn’t need to be made yet.”