05/08/2014 06:13 pm ET Updated May 08, 2014

Tim Geithner Tried To Quit 3 Months Into Treasury Secretary Stint


Timothy Geithner says he offered to resign three months into his stint as Treasury secretary, and supposedly it was only the first of multiple times he tried to quit.

But President Barack Obama refused to “liberate” him, he told Andrew Ross Sorkin in a New York Times Magazine profile published online Thursday.

The former chair of the New York Federal Reserve is pushing his new memoir, “Stress Test,” which is due to be published May 12. In it, he seems to paint himself as the reluctant pragmatist who steered the country clear of financial devastation.

Key word: Reluctant.

After he flubbed his first speech in 2009, Geithner told Rahm Emanuel, then Obama’s chief of staff, he would step down. But Emanuel, now the mayor of Chicago, said “finding a new Treasury secretary wasn’t the solution."

He said he hadn’t even wanted the job in the first place, and apparently stumped for former Treasury secretary Larry Summers when he met with Obama soon after the 2008 election. His wife, Carole, didn’t want him to take the job, either.

“Carole didn’t just have reservations,” Geithner writes in the memoir. “She was opposed.”

After years of trying to convince the public that the financial crisis bank bailouts were profitable -- they were -- Geithner's slated to make big profits of his own. He's joined private equity firm Warburg Pincus last month, a move that earned him new criticism.

“I think the perception problem -- first of all it’s very damaging to me as I was trying to do some tough things, and I think it’s kind of very damaging to the country at the moment because it sees this basic loss of faith in government,” he told the Times. “I thought the only thing I could really do about that was to make sure I didn’t go work for a bank or a firm that we’d regulated or that we’d rescued directly.”

Read the full New York Times Magazine profile here