</b>us in turmoil- top economic advisor & treasury

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    Treasury's O'Neill Quits in Surprise Move
    Fri December 6, 2002 10:09 AM ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill on Friday abruptly announced his resignation, ending a two-year tenure marred by public gaffes and criticisms of his ability to be the U.S. economy's chief spokesman.
    An administration official said O'Neill's resignation had come at the request of the White House, which has been considering a major shakeup in its economic team.

    "It has been a privilege to serve the Nation during these challenging times. I thank you for that opportunity," O'Neill said in a brief letter to President Bush.

    Treasury spokeswoman Michele Davis told reporters that the resignation would become effective "in the next few weeks," adding that O'Neill had informed senior Treasury staffers of his decision on Friday morning.

    "As he told senior staff this morning, there are lots of other important things to do in life. Back in December of 2000, he was planning to retire and devote himself to improving health care and education in Pittsburgh. I'm sure he will return to those important projects," she said.

    "He told the senior staff he appreciated their support, wisdom and energy and he encouraged them to remain focused and true to their sworn responsibilities," she said.

    O'Neill was sworn in as the 72nd U.S. Treasury Secretary on Jan. 20, 2001. While his often direct style of speaking raised eyebrows in Washington, he was also often seen as refreshingly candid. But this style sometimes roiled financial markets and upset foreign governments.
 
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