European leaders can learn from the “bold action” taken by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Timothy Geithner, who was president of the New York Federal Reserve, early in the U.S. financial crisis, deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides said.
“One of the lessons we learned in that particular crisis is that you do need to take bold action,” Nides, who served as chief operating officer of Morgan Stanley from 2005 to 2010, said today in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “These things are a contagion. What goes on in Greece affects what goes on in Spain. What goes on in Spain affects what goes on in Italy.”
Nides, who is now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deputy for the management and budgeting of U.S. foreign assistance, said that when the U.S. faced its crisis in 2007 and 2008, “people like Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner understood that very strongly and realized they needed to take very bold action, as obviously the Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke did.”
Praising the injection of cash into struggling Spanish banks, Nides said it’s essential to take targeted actions and that he thinks the European Central Bank understands that.
The U.S. is doing its part to boost the global economy by focusing more than ever on creating opportunities for American companies overseas and for foreign companies to invest and create jobs in the U.S., Nides said.
President Barack Obama has set a target of doubling U.S. exports in the five years ending 2014, and boosting employment for Americans is at the top of his election-year agenda.
The State Department dubbed today Global Economic Statecraft Day, spotlighting events at the 240 U.S. embassies and consulates around the world intended to connect U.S. businesses with new opportunities and create jobs.
In a video address to U.S. embassies, Obama said it is essential “to harness our foreign policy to advance our prosperity here at home.”
U.S. foreign policy is about “peace and prosperity -- and this is the prosperity part of the agenda,” Nides said in a separate interview. The nations that are going to be leaders this century, are those with the biggest economies, not those with the largest militaries, he said.
Nides said the State Department has assigned its 1,000 economic officers around the world to “wake up every day and think about what they can do” to promote economic growth and “to make sure they are doing everything they can to grow jobs in the U.S.”
That means diplomats are trying to break down barriers to trade, oppose intellectual-property violations, and make sure U.S. companies have a fair shot at bidding for overseas contracts, he said.
Nides has worked to encourage international visitors to the U.S., helping to reduce the wait time for tourist visas. Every 65 tourists visiting the U.S. create one U.S. job, according to the Commerce Department.
A tourist from Brazil used to have to wait about 150 days for a visit, according to Nides, who said that delay has been reduced to about five days.