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Geithner: ‘Relatively comfortable’ on Europe, China relationship improving

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Jeremy Hobson: Hi I’m Jeremy Hobson from the Marketplace Morning Report.

My colleague Kai Ryssdal sat down with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Thursday in San Francisco.

They talked about a lot of different issues facing the U.S. economy. Among them: new troubles in Europe.

Timothy Geithner: I feel relatively comfortable that we are in a much better position to withstand any pressures from Europe. But again it’s important to acknowledge that Europe is a big part of the global economy so if they were to mismanage their crisis it would have a material impact on growth, like it did in 2010 and 2011.

Kai Ryssdal: Well, yeah.

Geithner: I don’t think that’s necessary, I don’t think it’s likely. They have made a lot of progress in the last few months to bring back a measure of calm to their financial markets.

Ryssdal: You saying you are “relatively comfortable” is not incredibly reassuring.

Geithner: Well, I’ll say it more strongly then: The U.S. financial system is in a very strong position to withstand any pressures they may see from Europe.

Hobson: Kai and Secretary Geithner also talked about China. Here’s an excerpt from that part of the interview:

Ryssdal: You’re about to make your 15th, 20th trip to China in the past four years. You spend a lot of time on that issue. I’d be curious as to your state of our economic relationship.

Geithner: Better. Better than it was.

Ryssdal: Is it good?

Geithner: I think it’s better than it was. Exports are growing very rapidly, that’s a good test. Their exchange rate has appreciated against the dollar, that’s pretty good for us, that means the competitive playing field is moving in our direction. There’s better protection for intellectual property rights in China, less piracy against U.S. firms, and we’ve been very aggressive in using protections in U.S. trade law to challenge unfair trade practices in China.

Hobson: You can hear the entire interview with Mr. Geithner for the first time on the Friday afternoon edition of Marketplace.

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