Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has expressed some skepticism behind closed doors about the broad bank limits proposed on Thursday by his boss, President Barack Obama, according to financial industry sources.
The sources, speaking anonymously because Geithner has not spoken publicly about his reservations, said the Treasury chief is concerned the proposed limits on big banks' trading and size could impact U.S. firms' global competitiveness.
He also has concerns that limits on proprietary trading do not necessarily get at the root of the problems and excesses that fueled the recent financial meltdown, the sources said.
Which is why the Washington Post is speculating that Turbo Timmy is being shown the door:
Thursday morning at the White House, it seemed as if the two men had swapped places. A beaming Volcker stood at Obama's right as the president endorsed his proposal and branded it the "Volcker Rule." Geithner stood farther away, compelled to accommodate a stance he once considered less effective than his own.
Senior administration officials say there is now broad consensus within the White House and the Treasury for the plan advanced by Volcker, who leads an outside economic advisory group for the president. At its heart, Volcker's plan restricts banks from making speculative investments that do not benefit their customers. He has argued that such speculative activity played a key role in the financial crisis. The administration also wants to limit the ability of the largest banks to use borrowed money to fund expansion plans..
Advocates of Volcker's ideas were delighted. "This is a complete change of policy that was announced today. It's a fundamental shift," said Simon Johnson, a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management. "This is coming from the political side. There are classic signs of major policy changes under pressure . . . but in a new and much more sensible direction."
...Summers and Geithner had been reluctant to take on battles that weren't at the heart of the problem that fueled the crisis. But ultimately, an administration official said, the two men concluded that reform needs to be about more than just fighting the last war -- it needs to address sources of future risk as well