Could the next Treasury Secretary be a woman? Since soothsaying has largely fallen out of fashion since Nate Silver's arithmetic renaissance, it's impossible to know for sure if President Obama will opt to go against the grain of the Wall Street boys' club and appoint one of the many qualified female candidates to Gringotts goblin Timothy Geithner's post, but, according to the HuffPo's Dan Froomkin, a lady Treasury Secretary might ultimately be the best thing for America's financial future.
According to several financial wizards surveyed by Froomkin, a female Treasurer would bring a new perspective to a post that has been dominated by the flaccid, gold-plated penises of a fraternity of market-friendly Wall Street insiders. Linda Bilmes, who teaches public policy at Harvard's Kennedy School, explains that just by virtue of the fact that men have dominated Wall Street and Wall Street vets have dominated the Treasury, appointing a woman to the Treasury would go a long way towards infusing the office with a fresh perspective that doesn't slavishly cater to Wall Street axioms:
Traditionally, finance has been a boys club and traditionally, Treasury secretaries have come out of the financial sector. What we've had in Treasury for the large part is people who have been molded by Wall Street, and whose thinking is etched into certain Wall Street type patterns...I don't think the point is having a woman just for the sake of having a woman. I think that the more important priority is to have a Treasury secretary who is a broad thinker, who is not completely tied to the Wall Street financial sector.
Since women have been largely shut out from upper echelon positions in the financial sector, a lady Treasurer, argues University of Oregon economist Mark Thoma, would bring "a different point of view than the typical Wall Street perspective, without sacrificing any intellectual capacity." And why, pray tell, might it be so important to steer our fiscal policy away from the shark-infested moat encircling the insular Wall Street? Well, explains University of Missouri-Kansas economics professor Stephanie Kleton, doing so could change the focus in the fiscal policy debate from deficit reduction to economic growth. She told Froomkin that Wall Street has a vested interest in seeing Social Security contract, since it would effectively drive more retirement money into private accounts.
Kelton's assertion that a female Treasurer would indeed provide this altered perspective is, moreover, bolstered by a recent study co-directed by the University of Nebraska's Ann Mari May, who insists "that economists do have gender differences in their policy perspectives," not least because female economists favor a bigger government role in shaping fiscal policy while men more often place their faith in the almighty market. Being shut out from leadership roles at the largest of U.S. banks and securities firms has engendered in many female economists a more skeptical attitude towards the Wall Street thought process.
So, who are the women in the running to break the evil Wall Street empire's death grip on the Treasury? Froomkin offers us three of the most likely female choices:
Christina Romer, who served as chairwoman of Council of Economic Advisers during the first two years of the Obama administration; Laura D'Andrea Tyson, a top economic adviser in the Clinton administration; and Janet Yellen, the vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve Board
With Geithner expected to clear out of the Treasury pretty soon, we might very well see the President pull one of these names out of his government-appointment hat, which, contrary to popular belief, how every president fills vacant cabinet positions.