UPDATE 1-US's Geithner warns Europe crisis a global threat

Wed Oct 5, 2011 5:58pm EDT

Related Topics

* Europe's crisis a threat to rest of world

* Geithner says Europe moving too slowly

* Preparing for new push at G20 talks next week

(Recasts lead, adds quotes, background, comments on Wall Street protesters)

WASHINGTON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Europe needs to step up efforts to control its debt crisis before it pulls the United States and the rest of world into a renewed downturn, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Washington Ideas Forum in the downtown Newseum, Geithner mixed praise and criticism of Europe as he continued an ongoing effort to push its policymakers toward a more forceful approach toward dealing with debt woes.

"Europe matters a lot to us. We don't want to see Europe weakened by a protracted crisis. Europe understands that," he said but left no doubt at his impatience with progress so far.

"They are moving too slowly," Geithner said. "Europe is a large part of the global economy, and a severe crisis in Europe would be damaging" around the world.

He sidestepped a question about how close the U.S. economy might be sliding back into recession, however.

Asked whether he agreed with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that U.S. growth was close to faltering, Geithner said that growth is "slower, weaker" in the United States and around the world than hoped at the start of the year.

Geithner has met European counterparts in France and in Poland in recent weeks to push for stronger action, including possible leveraging of an established European bailout fund, to a debt crisis now raging in countries like Greece from spreading to Bigger European economies.

He travels to Paris next week to again meet group of 20 finance ministers Oct 14-15 and is expected to pick up the refrain that they must move faster and more convincingly to persuade financial markets that governments are determined to stop the crisis.

Geithner said he believed Europe has decided it will "escalate substantially" its response, and he is confident that they will do so.

"They have the financial resources as a continent that are very large relative to this crisis. It is just a matter of moving more quickly and more forcefully," he said.

"I expect they will do that."

Geithner avoided a direct response when asked whether he supported the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters who have staged continuing demonstrations against what they see as excessive pay for bankers amid high rates of joblessness for young Americans. He said he was sympathetic toward people who feel they have lost a sense of future opportunities that use to be plentiful in America.

Geithner was on the front lines dealing with the 2007-2009 financial crisis that drove the United States into recession -- first as president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank and later as the Obama administration's Treasury chief.

He said the key lesson to be taken from battling crises is that it is necessary to move strongly to quell them and then to not let up before the problems are dealt with and growth can resume.

"The basic problem and reason why governments make these things harder over time is that what happens is the political costs of the initial response is so difficult, so devastating as you saw in the United States, that people tend to pull back too early and leave the job unfinished," Geithner said.

(Reporting by Stella Dawson and Glenn Somerville, editing by Diane Craft)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (11)
dtkru wrote:
I cannot believe that Reuters actually gives this tax cheat space on their website. This administration lecturing anyone on fiscal discipline is a complete joke.

Oct 05, 2011 6:48pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ramon123 wrote:
More unappreciated and unsolicited advice from the mouth of the man who piled up more debt in 3 years than we ever had in 50 and achieved zilch.
Now about those unpaid personal income taxes there Tim …

Oct 05, 2011 7:11pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Maybe now is a good time to erect a Corn Curtain or whatever you want to call it and go protectionist. The only thing globalization has done for us so far is lower our standard of living, put millions out of work, deplete the meager savings we used to have, destroyed any modicum of respect for a real, unmanipulated stock market, thoroughly weaken our infrastructure on all counts.

We’ve also let ourselves be hobbled by clouded thinkers who need to regulate every aspect of our lives today, mostly in the pursuit of preserving the ecosystem, yet who turn a blind eye to the fact that China, among others, are still using old technology, but now are using it to make up for our lost capactiy. Ecology is in effect causing even worse pollution. They can live outside the curtain.

Tim Geithner can live with them. He’s like the kid who set the mattress on fire and now is running around the neighborhood yelling fire, hoping to be called a hero. See Frontline’s “The Warning”. He helped set us up – the whole world – for this crash. Now he presumes to tell everyone how to fix the mess he himself helped to cause. Hi stax issues are nothing compared to that. Are we just that stupid?

It would seem so, and will seem so as long as he remains in office.

Oct 05, 2011 11:30pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.