Geithner to stay on as Treasury chief

WASHINGTON Sun Aug 7, 2011 6:54pm EDT

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner makes opening remarks at the Women in Finance Symposium at the Treasury Department in Washington, July 12, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner makes opening remarks at the Women in Finance Symposium at the Treasury Department in Washington, July 12, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who had considered stepping down after the government borrowing limit was raised, will remain at his post at President Barack Obama's request, the administration said on Sunday.

"The president asked Secretary Geithner to stay on at Treasury and welcomes his decision," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

Geithner had indicated he might leave after a debt-ceiling increase was approved, but administration officials signaled that both Obama and the White House chief of staff had urged him not to leave now.

The high-stakes drama over the debt ceiling increase, which brought the world's biggest economy to the brink of default, has given way to a new set of concerns after ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded U.S. debt late on Friday.

"Secretary Geithner has let the president know that he plans to stay on in his position at Treasury," Assistant Treasury Secretary Jenni LeCompte said. "He looks forward to the important work ahead on the challenges facing our great country."

Debt crises on both sides of the Atlantic have escalated in recent days. European officials were struggling to prevent financial turmoil from spreading from the periphery to core economies such as Italy's, while officials in Washington will seek to minimize fallout from the debt downgrade.

After $2.5 trillion in value was erased from global stock markets last week, there was worry about how financial markets would respond to the latest developments when they open in Asia on Monday morning.

Renewed financial instability comes as major economies struggle to establish firm recoveries from the 2007-2009 crisis. Finance chiefs from the world's major economies were expected to confer late on Sunday.

Geithner, the last of Obama's original economic team to remain in office, is experienced at navigating economic storms.

When he took office in January 2009, the economy was in deep recession after the U.S. housing market collapse and ensuing credit crunch. In his previous job as president of the New York Federal Reserve, he played a central role in the government's response to those crises.

(Reporting by Glenn Somerville, with additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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