In the first two months of the year, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke met with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner 17 times, according to central bank records obtained by a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.
Some of the meetings included receptions for Geithner and conference calls that also involved Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair and Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan. Still, Bernanke's frequent encounters with Geithner demonstrate how closely the Fed chief is working with the Obama administration's lead economic policymaker.
Other top administration officials who have met with Bernanke include Lawrence Summers, the head of the National Economic Council; Christina Romer, the head of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Paul Volcker, the former Fed chairman who is now a top economic adviser to President Obama.
The records received by the Wharton School's Ken Thomas say Bernanke also frequently met with lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank. He also sat with Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate banking panel, and held a call with Sen. Arlen Spector, R-Pa.
Banking and other financial issues were clearly a priority in Bernanke's schedule. He met twice with Larry Fink, the chairman and chief executive of BlackRock Inc., and once each with Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs Group, and the Financial Services Roundtable board of directors. He also spoke with Ford Motor Co. chief executive Alan Mulally.
Bernanke was also in contact with several foreign heads of state during the period, including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.