Two Years Ago Today, Timothy Geithner Welcomed Us To “The Recovery”

It was two years ago that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner published an Op-Ed in The New York Times entitled “Welcome To The Recovery.”

Two years later, we’ve gotten weak jobs reports in AprilMay, and June   along with reports showing a decline in consumer spendingretail sales,corporate earnings forecasts, and a whole host of other economic statistics. On top of that, we had an incredibly weak first look report for second quarter GDP.  Tomorrow we’ll get the jobs report for July and nobody is expecting it to be any better than the last three.

One wonders if Secretary Geithner would like to revise and extend his August 2nd, 2010 remarks.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. legion says:

    I’m sure if I had Geithner’s bank accounts, pension plan, and guaranteed 7-figure job on Wall Street (after he’s done in DC, of course), I’d think the recovery was going swimmingly as well…

  2. JKB says:

    Doug, as we’ve been incessantly told in the last month or so, one just does not take what Obama or his minions say in context. How rude.

    If you examine pronouns and diagram with a blackout marker, you’ll see he didn’t mean recovery recovery.

  3. anjin-san says:

    I guess Republicans just pine for the good old days BEFORE Obama, when the economy fell off a cliff and was picking up speed as it headed towards a depression. Good times.

  4. stonetools says:

    This goes back to the initial stimulus decision. Had Obama listened to his top economic advisers and went for a bigger stimulus, the summer of 2010 would most likely have gone better. But Obama didn’t push for a bigger stimulus , and got a $800 stimulus instead of a $1.3T one . The result was a weaker recovery and a stalled economy. Paul Krugman called it , and also predicted that the failure of the stimulus to create a sustained recovery would make a second round of stimulus politically impossible.

    Back in 2009, Krugman had warned: “By going with a half-baked stimulus, you’re going to discredit the idea of stimulus without saving the economy.” And that, he sighs, “is exactly what happened. Unfortunately it was one of those predictions that I wish I’d been wrong about. But it was dead on.”

    Its noteworthy that Summers and Romney, two of Obama’s leading economic advisers, has left the Administration and Geithner is the only one left. I suspect that he was one of those who advocated for a smaller stimulus and thus had to go out and “talk up” the economy in 2010. When a second round of stimulus is politically impossible, that instilling confidence through talk is the only thing left.

  5. al-Ameda says:

    Okay, so growth has been anemic and unemployment has been over 8% since we left the 2009 recession behind. However, I’d say that it’s remarkable that we’ve had any economic growth at all, given how much wealth and income ($14 Trillion) were vaporized in the 2008 crash of the financial and housing markets.

    People who think that the economy should be back to “normal” after what happened in 2008 are delusional. That was the worst economic crash in nearly 80 years.

  6. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Geithner’s always been a hack and if you asked him directly about those comments he’d say you were quoting him out of context, from his own op-ed. Seriously. We’re not talking about the sharpest tool in the shed.

    Regarding the economy, it’s pretty f’n grim. But as bad as it is today I suspect in 10 years or thereabouts we’ll actually be longing for weak to negative growth and high unemployment. Imagine those two items plus inflation and high interest rates. Ultimately the latter two are the consequences of recklessly loose money. It’s inevitable.

  7. The funny thing is, pedantic sorts normally go for the NBER definition. And NBER has long since called this a recovery.

    We’ve had enough months of growth now that should we have genuine contraction, GDP change falling below zero, a negative number, then it would be registered as a new recession.

    Do you have to play an economic rube to score points?

  8. (That and, can’t Geithner just retroactively refile? That’s all the rage. That’s what Romney would do. And that’s probably what Doug had in mind when he said “revise and extend.” He just didn’t want to admit the association.)

  9. anjin-San says:

    In late 2008 & early 2009, my office was next to our leasing director. It was nearly impossible for him to get deals funded, even for companies that had good credit. Since everyone that watches Fox apparently owns a business that they built with their own two hands, I am sure JKB knows just how critical access to credit is to a business, and how terrifying it was to see access to credit dry up.

    Are we still deep in the weeds? Sure. And it beats the hell out of being in the graveyard.

  10. Ben Wolf says:

    @ Doug Mataconis

    One wonders if Secretary Geithner would like to revise and extend his August 2nd, 2010 remarks.

    You weren’t supposed to remember he’d written that.

  11. Stonetools says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Of course, had we followed the Republican prescription- no stimulus and no rescue of GE , we would be in the fourth year of recession, with unemployment of 10-15%. Would that have been better?

  12. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Stonetools: I think you mean “rescue of GM.” GE has been just fine, as one of the Obama administration’s favorite companies.

    The GM bailout… we’ve lost a LOT of money in that, and GM is still in the crapper. Meanwhile, Ford and their other competitors were essentially punished for succeeding.

  13. stonetools says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I did mean GM.GM paid off its bailout debt to the US and Canadian governments five years ahead of schedule. That’s not all its loans, but GM is alive -and bin Laden is dead :-).

    Had GM gone down, Ford may have well be affected, since a lot of GM’s ( and Ford’s ) suppliers would have gone down too.

  14. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    You know, the GM thing is very typical. The reason to do it, even if it took Federal funds, was to fight the general economic decline. It was to fight a downward cycle. What’s typical is that “free marketers” will fault Obama for trying to fight that cycle. They actually fought the moves to fight that cycle … and then they say Obama should have fixed everything. That is exactly the arc of Doug’s stimulus positions. Fight the stimulus. Call for smaller or no stimulus, and then complain that the economy isn’t healthy.

    They, you, Doug wanted austerity. You assured us that it would bring growth.

    Check out the news from Europe.

  15. Let’s not forget that Doug’s optimistic economic message is:

    “We can’t do anything anyway, we are stuck, so we should not have tried.”

  16. C. Clavin says:

    163,000 jobs added in July.
    9,000 Public Sector jobs slashed.
    Libertarian delusions about small Government continue to hold back the recovery.

  17. Tillman says:

    Two years ago this November, a freshman class of Tea Party-affiliated Republican Congressmen were elected to the House.

    About a year ago, their hardline stance during budget and deficit negotiations caused Standard & Poor’s to downgrade our credit rating, among other things.

    So yeah, Geithner would revise his statement to include elected jackasses derailing the recovery, I imagine.

    I thought you were smart enough to remember your recent history, Mr. Mataconis. Instead, a potshot at the words of an administration official before an electoral victory that, as we’ve all observed, changed the workings of Congress for the worse?

  18. C. Clavin says:

    @ Tillman…
    Doug, like all the other Romney supporters, is rooting for the economy to be bad. The strategy has been to sabotage Obama’s efforts, so that they can blame him for the failure. It’s treasonous in my eyes…but they might get away with it given the electorate.

  19. C. Clavin says:

    Indiana Jones is back?

  20. BTW, in perfect cognitive dissonance yesterday I heard Tea Party types saying that (a) Obama should have let GM go bankrupt, and (b) Obama should not have closed car dealers.

    If you can hold those two thoughts in your head at the same time, you too can be a Tea Party member.

  21. stonetools says:


    The Republicans have done everything they could possibly do to derail the recovery. Unsurprisingly, they have succeeded.
    They benefited politically from it too. Had a bigger stimulus been passed and unemployment not been at 10 per cent in 2010, the Republican wave would not been as big.
    If Obama is to be blamed, its for failing to realize that how far the Republicans would go in sabotaging the economic recovery-and it not fixing the blame on lthem.

  22. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The GM bailout… we’ve lost a LOT of money in that, and GM is still in the crapper. Meanwhile, Ford and their other competitors were essentially punished for succeeding.

    So you definitely prefer that Obama had let GM go into bankruptcy and the auto industry shed hundred of thousands of jobs at a time of the most severe economic collapse since the Great Depresssion?

    I can imagine your comments here if that Republican-preferred idiocy had happened.

  23. anjin-san says:

    Ford and their other competitors were essentially punished for succeeding.

    Oh yes, Ford was punished. The supply chain they depend on to do business was saved.


    Really dude, does it hurt to be so dumb? No wonder you get prickly when asked about your business experience.