You CAN Fake Confidence . . .

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 23, 2009

but if you fail to, and your job depends on instilling confidence in others . . . well . . . it’s a problem:

Slouching alone at the head table before a room of business reporters, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner looked like an overgrown prep school student facing the expulsion board after violating the honors code.

It wasn’t what he said, but his demeanor as he said it. Cautious, gazing out, he seemed to be shrinking from the room. And the room was skeptical.

When the secretary calmly said that taxpayers would get a fair shake in the deal because the funds in question “are managed by professionals who know how to do this for a living,” one reporter could be heard sighing, “oh, great.”

The wariness was mutual. Asked whether he thought this economic plan would play well outside Washington, Geithner offered a wry smile. “I’m confident that you and your colleagues will do a good job of getting the word out,” he replied.

Stocks are up today and Geithner appears to have won something of a political reprieve for the moment, but with body language like that from the Treasury Secretary, there must be anti-gravitational forces at work to have gotten stocks to increase. Eventually, however, things fall to Earth and Tim Geithner’s demeanor will only accelerate the fall. For more of my take concerning the Geithner plan, and concerning the issue of AIG bonuses and similarly situated payouts, see here.

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