Obama’s Economic Team

Brad DeLong says there are six key economic policy jobs in the US government; we can now fill in most of the blanks. Running down Brad’s list:

  • Office of Management and Budget director: Will be Peter Orszag, an excellent and entirely natural choice.
  • Council of Economic Advisers chair: Will be Austan Goolsbee, getting repaid for all the work he did on Obama’s campaign.
  • National Economic Council chair: Will be Jacob Lew, with Jason Furman as his deputy Larry Summers.
  • Federal Reserve chair: Is, of course, Ben Bernanke, at least for the next two years.
  • Treasury secretary: Tim Geithner.
  • SEC chair: Still unclear.

On top of that, there’s still talk that Larry Summers will have some kind of senior White House role. Already it’s more than a little unclear on what exactly the difference is between the CEA and the NEC. By the time that Goolsbee, Lew, and Furman all manage to agree on something, do you really want Summers weighing in as well? Oh, and of course former investment banker Rahm Emanuel is Obama’s chief of staff; he’s no shrinking violet, and will surely contribute to the debate on economic policy.

DeLong says that the most important job on the list is the SEC chairmanship, since it includes "the task of designing the system going forward for regulating financial markets". But I suspect Geithner has been charged with that role, making the SEC job slightly less important.

There’s certainly nothing unexpected or heterodox about this list, although Goolsbee might bring a bit of fresh thinking to the CEA. It’s a very solid team — but of course the economy and the financial markets are so large that they tend to dwarf any attempt by Washington to steer them in a particular direction. The right minds might be in the right places, but whether they have the tools to do anything really substantive remains to be seen.

Update: Brad followed up on Thursday; Krugman calls this team the "ministry of all the talents".

This entry was posted in Politics. Bookmark the permalink.