Bloomberg News

Europe-as-Armageddon Concern Easing, Altman Says: Tom Keene

January 26, 2012

(Updates with Altman comment in fifth paragraph. See DAVOS <GO> for more on the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting.)

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Roger Altman, chairman of Evercore Partners Inc. and a former U.S. deputy Treasury secretary, said investors are less concerned that the European debt crisis will get worse.

“The degree to which the sense of Europe’s being on the very edge of the cliff and perhaps on the verge of Armageddon has eased off a lot,” Altman, founder of the New York-based advisory firm, said today in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Surveillance Midday” with Tom Keene from Davos, Switzerland, where he’s attending the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. “I’m a little surprised with how much it’s eased off.”

Europe’s leaders are seeking to contain the debt crisis that has roiled markets. The currency union has bailed out Greece, Portugal and Ireland as the nations’ borrowing costs spiked. The cost of insuring against default on European corporate debt fell to the lowest today in five months after the Federal Reserve signaled plans to keep borrowing costs low through 2014.

“I’m not suggesting the crisis is over,” Altman said. “But for the moment it has eased a bit. You obviously see that in the borrowing costs that, for example, Italy and Spain have recently realized, and you see it in credit-default swaps spreads.”

Treasury Department

Altman, 65, who served under President Bill Clinton, said World Bank President Robert Zoellick would be “a very good secretary of the Treasury” in a Republican administration though he’s unlikely to be appointed if Barack Obama is re- elected.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, 50, said he’s “confident” he won’t be serving a second term under Obama.

“He’s not going to ask me to stay on,” Geithner said yesterday in a Bloomberg Television interview. “I’m confident he’ll be president. But I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury.”

--With assistance from Patrick Clark and Catarina Saraiva in New York. Editors: William Ahearn, Dan Kraut

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Marcinek in New York at lmarcinek3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net.


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