If some of the country's top financial players were matched up against one another in a March Madness-style tournament to decide which one should run the economy, who would get your vote?
Hundreds of bankers had the chance to weigh in on that question this week at the Consumer Bankers Association convention in Austin, where organizers created their own Economic Championship bracket. Attendees, which included representatives from mostly large and mid-sized banks, used handheld voting devices to select top picks in three rounds over the three-day conference.
The players included top-seeded Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke; followed by Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett; Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner; JPMorgan Chase President and CEO Jamie Dimon; Hewlett-Packard President and CEO Meg Whitman; billionaire investor George Soros; former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair; and financial advisor and television personality Suze Orman.
Bernanke crushed Orman in the first round, with 88.3% to 11.7% of the vote, and Dimon easily handled Whitman, 79.8% to 20.2%. Tim Geithner also prevailed in his match-up against George Soros, albeit by a slightly narrower margin of 64.6% to 35.4%.
But the big upset, drawing gasps from the crowd, was Bair's triumph over Buffett. She eked out a victory, 50.8% to 49.2%, to advance to the second round. "I didn't think it was going to be that close," CBA President and CEO Richard Hunt said.
Bernanke stayed in through the second round, with 52.6% over Dimon's 47.4%. And Geithner just barely made it past Bair, 50.1% to 49.9%, eliciting more oooooohh's from the crowd. "Recount?" Hunt asked.
Despite the drama of the first two rounds, a Bernanke-Geithner showdown was more decisive: the Fed chairman took the title with 81.5% to Geithner's 18.5%.
In total, more than 1,500 votes were cast during the tournament.