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Lew’s Signature Won’t Debase U.S. Currency, Obama Jokes

Jack Lew's Signature
Jack Lew, the president’s candidate for U.S. Treasury secretary signs his name with a swirl of loops resembling a runaway logo for the Olympic games more than any traditional John Hancock. Source: The White House via Bloomberg

Jan. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Jack Lew’s signature is throwing people, including President Barack Obama, for a loop.

The president’s candidate for U.S. Treasury secretary signs his name with a swirl of loops resembling a runaway logo for the Olympic games more than any traditional John Hancock.

Departing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner had a similar problem and has worked at making his handwriting more legible.

Lew, standing alongside Geithner today at a White House ceremony where Obama recommended his own chief of staff and former budget director to serve as the nation’s 76th Treasury secretary, turned to longtime friend Geithner and said:

“I thought I knew you pretty well, but it was only yesterday that I discovered that we both share a common challenge with penmanship.”

The president wasn’t about to be left out of the joke.

“I had never noticed Jack’s signature,” Obama said, “and when this was highlighted yesterday in the press, I considered rescinding my offer to appoint him.”

Pausing for laughter in the East Room, the president added: “Jack assures me that he is going to work to make at least one letter legible in order not to debase our currency, should he be confirmed as secretary of the Treasury.”

The secretary’s signature appears on the face of the U.S. currency. Lew’s nomination requires Senate confirmation.

Interpretation of his signature is another matter. Kathi McKnight, a professional graphologist, told the Washington Post that Lew’s swirls indicate that he “just might be the cuddly sort” with a “softer” approach to problem-solving.

Geithner, in an interview with Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal, said he too had to work on improving his signature when he became Treasury secretary: “I had to write something where people could read my name.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Silva in Washington at msilva34@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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