WASHINGTON // The US president-elect Barack Obama named his economic team last night, tapping the New York Federal Reserve president Tim Geithner as treasury secretary to deal with "an economic crisis of historic proportions". At a news conference 57 days before his inauguration, Mr Obama also said Lawrence Summers would be director of his National Economic Council. Mr Summers was treasury secretary under the former president Bill Clinton and a former president of Harvard University.
Mr Obama said that recent news "has made it even more clear that we are facing an economic crisis of historic proportions". Offering a grim prediction, he added, "Most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year". He said his newly named economic team offered "sound judgment and fresh thinking" at a time of economic peril. Mr Obama stepped to the microphones one day after his aides urged the incoming Democratic-controlled Congress to work with unusual speed in passing an economic stimulus package.
Some lawmakers have said a measure in the range of $700 billion over two years may be passed, in hopes of achieving the president-elect's goal of securing 2.5 million jobs. Mr Obama takes the oath of office on Jan 20 as the nation's 44th president, and will confront economic difficulties as great as any since the Great Depression in the 1930s. "The economy is likely to get worse before it gets better," he said in a downbeat forecast. At the same time, he expressed confidence the nation would weather the crisis "because we've done it before".
He called on Congress to start work on an aggressive plan when it is sworn in January, so that his administration can, as he put it, "hit the ground running". Mr Obama pledged to honour the commitments the outgoing Bush administration has made to rescue financial markets. Mr Obama wants action that will stabilise the financial system and get credit flowing, as well as create jobs in areas including rebuilding infrastructure and creating clean energy.