That background could help shape the Obama administration's strategy in its forthcoming talks with congressional Republicans over the federal debt ceiling. Republicans are expected to demand deep budget cuts as the price of agreeing to raise the debt ceiling. The federal debt limit is expected to be tapped out sometime in February.
Obama is about to begin his second term in office with new secretaries of state, defense and treasury. He has nominated Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton at State and former Sen. Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon. He also has proposed John Brennan as the new CIA director.
The 57-year-old Lew would also bring private sector and international experience to Treasury Department. He has held top jobs at Citigroup's wealth management branch and at the State Department, where he oversaw international economic issues in his first job for Obama.
A person familiar with the selection process said that experience was particularly important to the president, given the treasury secretary's key role in coordinating with European allies on the continent's debt crisis, among other global financial matters.