Whiz Kid, Hot Seat

How the job of buying up all those bad securities fell to a 35-year-old Goldman Sachs alum

Lauren Victoria Burke / AP

Kashkari must move fast to calm credit markets.

Neel Kashkari is the world's most powerful temp. Over the next month, the 35-year-old onetime AC/DC fan and aerospace engineer will run the $700 billion Treasury Department program to rescue the American economy by pricing, buying and, hopefully, reselling some of the most complex financial instruments ever devised--all so that the credit markets can function again. Kashkari's job is pivotal; how long Kashkari will hold on to it isn't clear. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson intends to work with whoever is elected Nov. 4 to name a permanent head of the rescue program, get that person confirmed by Congress and install him...

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