Despite his stint on Wall Street, Lew doesn’t have the type of financial experience that Geithner brought to the job at the height of the financial crisis in 2009. Indeed, there’s not as much of a premium on those skills now as the nation’s attention has turned from bank bailouts to fiscal confrontations and brinkmanship.
Still, Lew will have to address other significant challenges, including completing implementation of the financial regulatory overhaul of 2010.
Lew will probably play a key role in deciding the fate of government-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the federal housing agencies partly blamed for the collapse of the housing market.
Internationally, he will also be the administration’s point man on issues related to China’s integration into the global economy and Europe’s sovereign debt and financial struggles. The issues aren’t foreign to Lew. While a deputy secretary of state early in the Obama administration, Lew managed the State Department’s international economic policy portfolio.
For all that, Lew faces a better landscape than Geithner did when he stepped into the post at the start of Obama’s first term.
‘‘The basic financial position and economic position of the country is much stronger today that it was four years ago,’’ said Michael Barr, who was assistant treasury secretary for financial institutions in 2009 and 2010. ‘‘That’s a significant advantage for a treasury secretary coming in.’’
Associated Press writers Julie Pace and Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.