U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Credit: Alex Wong

So how is the Obama Administration's top money man thinking about the European debt crisis?

Europe's mess naturally came up today at CNBC's Delivering Alpha conference in New York City, where U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was the featured guest.

In a wide-ranging interview with CNBC's Jim Cramer, Geithner said his European cohorts won't allow another bank to collapse like Lehman Brothers, a move that triggered the global financial crisis in the fall of 2008. 

They have the capacity to "hold this thing together," Geithner said.

Here's how DealBook summed up the chat:

Geithner acknowledged that European regulators had traditionally been more “indulgent” of their banks, given the institutions’ close ties to their governments. But European governments and banking authorities realize they need to shore up their banking institutions, he said.

“They recognize they have to do more,” Mr. Geithner told CNBC’s Jim Cramer. “They recognize they’re behind the curve.” When asked whether Europe would be “alive or dead, and meaningful” in several months as part of a “lightning round” of questions, Mr. Geithner quickly responded “alive.”

Later, when asked if Greece would be saved, and if that would require additional financial support from Germany, Mr. Geithner answered, “It takes time and it does not work unless it’s supported by money.”

Meanwhile, the European crisis took another dark turn Wednesday, after Moody's downgraded two big French banks: Societe General and Credit Agricole.

Moody's pointed to the weak state of European financial system and, in the case of Credit Agricole, its exposure to the Greek economy.

It kept a third French bank, BNP Paribas, under review.

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