WASHINGTON Citigroup economist Nathan Sheets will start working next week as a counselor to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, an official at the Treasury Department told Reuters on Monday.
Reuters reported on Friday that the Obama administration was considering nominating Sheets to be the Treasury's top official for international affairs, a post that has been vacant since November.
Sheets' new job as counselor would give him a position at the Treasury from which to advise Lew until he is nominated and confirmed by the Senate.
Counselor posts are sometimes used for this sort of holding pattern. For example, the administration's nominee for assistant secretary for economic policy, Karen Dynan, is currently a counselor to Lew.
The Treasury official had no comment on Sheets' nomination prospects.
If nominated and confirmed, Sheets would be a key figure in U.S. financial and economic diplomacy and would help lead international discussions on the global economy.
This would include pressing Washington's view that China should let its currency appreciate more quickly and that Europe should act more decisively to boost economic growth.
As the Treasury's undersecretary for international affairs, Sheets would have to field questions from emerging market nations whose markets are reeling from a dramatic reversal of money flows tied partly to the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to curtail its economic stimulus.
He would also get an earful from developing countries frustrated by U.S. intransigence in following through on a promise to give emerging economies a bigger say at the International Monetary Fund.
The Treasury post was previously occupied by Lael Brainard, who stepped down last year and was nominated by President Barack Obama earlier this month to serve on the Fed's board of governors.
Sheets has been the global head of international economics at Citi in New York since 2011. Prior to joining Citi, which is one of the world's largest banking conglomerates, Sheets spent much of his career as an economist at the Fed. At one point he was an adviser to former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on international economics.
(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)