President Bush made a nice call selecting Goldman, Sachs chairman and CEO Henry (Hank) Paulson to replace John Snow at Treasury. We've been a solid supporter of the Bush administration and their appointees in general but Paul O'Neill and John Snow were definitely light hitters in the lineup. Captains of industry like O'Neill and Snow who had no markets experience were weak choices in an increasingly markets driven global economy. It's probably a credit to O'Neill/Snow as well as a bit of luck that no great financial upheavals like the emerging markets and Long Term Capital meltdowns of 1997-98 occurred on their watch.
For those of you with a non-financial background, Goldman, Sachs has been and continues to be the bluest of the blue chip U.S. investment banks. To get an entry level analyst job at Goldman typically requires nearly the unanimous consent of a dozen interviewers of various ranks and a career at Goldman is typically a tough slog. That said, for those who produce results there aren't many places that will promote quicker or compensate better than Goldman. Finally, you CANNOT be anything other than outstanding to be in senior management at Goldman. Robert Rubin and Jon Corzine are the customary examples; other recent Goldman alumni include NYSE head John Thain and Stephen Friedman.
Paulson has the free-market bona-fides that are de rigeur for SecTreas and his extracurriculars like Nature Conservancy and Goldman pedigree should make for a breeze in confirmation.
Will the nomination make a huge difference? Not immediately especially since the public seems unwilling to credit Bush for ANYTHING good. But the line-up is much stronger.