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Main Street-Wall Street team

Tuesday, December 10th 2002 - 20:00 UTC
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According to reports in the leading US newspapers Monday edition, President George Bush has appointed John Snow from the freight transportation business as the new Treasury Secretary. Mr. Snow will replace Mr. Paul O'Neill who resigned last week together with White House Economic Advisor Lawrence Lindsay.

Mr. Snow, 63, is an economist and a lawyer who has run CSX, one of the US largest railroad companies since 1991. He served in a variety of posts in the Ford administration, including assistant Secretary of Transportation and is a former chairman of the Business Roundtable, an organization that represents CEO of the US largest companies in Washington policy debates. Observers say Mr. Snow has the political skills needed to sell the current Republican administration ideas for economic reform, as the 2004 presidential campaign gets underway, particularly a new economic stimulus package insulating Mr. Bush from the prospects of a weak economy.

Last September Mr. Snow was extremely critical of US corporate scandals saying that "these egregious failures evidence a clear breach of the basic contract that underlines corporate capitalism".

Washington press reports also mention that president Bush will be naming Stephen Friedman a former co-chairman of investment firm Goldman Sachs to replace outgoing Economic Advisor Lindsay. Mr. Friedman is described as a consensus builder and strong manager. The Snow-Friedman combination seems to fit the Bush administration ideal economic team that is Main Street and Wall Street.

Mr. Snow is a wealthy industrialist with government experience but few ties with Wall Street. As chairman of CSX he has had considerable interaction with government policy and regulation, overseeing the acquisition of Conrail by CSX, in a joint venture with the Norfolk Southern Corporation. CSX had revenues of 8,1 billion US dollars in 2001 and earnings of 957 million. The company also has a controlling interest in the Yukon Pacific Corporation which has permits to build a gas pipeline from the North Slope of Alaska to Valdez.

Mr. Snow replaces another industrialist, Mr. Paul O'Neill who was unable to inspire the necessary confidence to prop the sluggish US economy and who had strained relations with Wall Street besides making offensive remarks towards several foreign countries and leaders, mainly in Latinamerica.

Categories: Mercosur.

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