Published January 11, 2013
Americans may not be able to read Jack Lew's signature, but handwriting experts say the Treasury Secretary nominee's loopy autograph offers insight into his personality -- and that he's an original thinker who speaks his mind and doesn't care what others think of him.
The former Citigroup executive who is now Obama's chief of staff signs his name in a scrawl that looks more like a stretched-out slinky than a name. The prospect of that John Hancock appearing on American paper currency prompted a flurry of wisecracks on the Internet, and a widely circulated photo comparing the signature to the squiggly icing atop Hostess cupcakes. Handwriting experts were quick to weigh in on Lew's "distinctive" and "odd" signature.
"It is very easily and efficiently produced being made of nothing more than a chain of clockwise spirals," said Mark Hopper, president of Handwriting Research Corporation in Phoenix.
But the series of spirals can reveal key personality traits, he said, showing Lew is a "highly efficient and short-cut type thinker, a person who always seeks to find the easiest way to achieve his goals.
"The illegibility of the signature interprets to a person who has an eccentric personality who doesn’t concern himself with how others perceive him and he has little concern for communicating clearly with
others -- he wants to be an enigma to others," said Hopper. "Overall, an intelligent, eccentric, introverted individual who is far more concerned about his thoughts and goals than relationships."
Dianne Peterson, a handwriting expert based in Tennessee, agreed that the squiggly autograph shows Lew cares little about others' opinion of him.
"When people write their name illegibly, it mostly reveals that they do not care what others think of them," Peterson told FoxNews.com.
"He can be very frank with someone and will give his opinion without being asked," she said. "He can relate well to all people but he will need all the facts before he makes the decision."
"His signature reveals that he will most likely fall in the middle of the road category on many issues," she added.
But other handwriting experts claimed a signature alone reveals little about a person Other sources of writing, like letter-writing or note-taking, offer far more insightful.
During Lew's nomination announcement Wednesday, President Obama joked that he thought of looking elsewhere for a new Treasury Secretary after seeing the illegible scribble, which will appear on all U.S. paper currency if Lew is confirmed.
"When this was highlighted yesterday in the press, I considered rescinding my offer to appoint him," Obama quipped. "Jack assures me that he is going to work to make at least one letter legible in order not to deface our currency should he be confirmed as secretary of the Treasury."
Current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also had an illegible signature before he was appointed to his post. Geithner changed it before his name ever adorned the nation's paper money.