Kai Ryssdal and our production team made a quick trip to San Francisco Thursday to meet with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner during his brief tour of the West Coast this week.
A rainy morning was giving way to sunshine when we arrived at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco's Nob Hill neighborhood. Geithner was set to give a speech there for the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco and the place was buzzing with press handlers, Secret Service agents and, yes, a couple of bomb sniffing German Shepherds that were dragging the city’s finest through the lobby. The dogs had apparently checked out the conference room we were supposed to use so we had to proceed cautiously in opening the door in case they were still there, snarling and securing the turf.
Marketplace was only one stop in a busy day for Geithner, so we only had about 15 minutes to tape the interview before he moved on to his next appointment. So we started rolling tape. Kai asked questions about economic growth in the United States; How confident was Geithner that the current recovery we are feeling today wouldn’t slip back, as it had the last couple years.
"The economy is definitely getting stronger," Geithner said. "It’s healing still, we’re repairing the damage from the crisis, and the strength is more broad based than it’s been."
"You know, you can see it. Agriculture is quite strong, energy is in a long boom, manufacturing seems strong, high tech is strong. But you are right, housing is still very weak and we still live in a risky world."
"But I think we are in a stronger position than any time in the last three years for sure."
The conversation was broad, covering Wall Street and TARP, China and Europe, as well as the question of whether President Obama could persuade the secretary to stay on should the administration see a second term. Let’s just say the question made him smile.
We also snuck in a question about his signature on the U.S. currency; there's a curious story behind it. You can hear audio highlights of the interview on the Marketplace Morning Report today. The whole shebang can be heard on Marketplace later tonight. Hope you'll tune in.
Click the play button on the audio player above to hear some behind-the-scenes information about the interview with the Treasury secretary.