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Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama's Sec of Treasury & "Transition Economic Advisory Board"

I've been spending some time the last couple days trying to catch up on what Obama's economic thinking is, and trying to get a better sense of what his administration's economic policies will be.  

Luckily, I'd saved the August 24 issue of the NYT Magazine, b/c the cover story was David Leonhardt's essay on "Obamanomics":

(Interestingly, it's currently the first Google hit for "obamnomics", with 2nd hit being the Amazon page for this book:

I'm still working through Leonhardt's essay.  My plan is to write up and post a short summary within the next week.  

In the meantime, I've also been following the beginnings of the transition.  Esp interesting, given the everything that's happened over the past year, and a fortiori over the past 2 months, is the speculation about who will be Obama's Secretary of Treasury.  Here are the names I've heard floated since Wednesday morning, in rough order of likelihood:
  • Larry Summers: Harvard economist, Sec Treasury under Clinton from 1999 to 2001 (he succeeded Robert Rubin, who he worked under while Rubin was Sec Treas from '95 to '99).  If and when he gets the job, I'll have to go into some details on his fascinating bio:
  • Tim Geithner: currently head of the NY Fed; interestingly, has spent his entire career in public service--including a stint under Summers and Rubin '99-'01.  From what I've read the past few years, he is well-respected on Wall Street, and he had been trying to draw the potential problems that derivatives (and specifically credit derivatives) could pose to the stability of the financial system--exactly what's playing out these days.
  • Paul Volcker: most famously chairman of the Fed from 1979 to 1987.  Something of a legend: "Volcker's Fed is widely credited with ending the United Statesstagflation crisis of the 1970s by limiting the growth of the money supply, abandoning the previous policy of targeting interest rates. Inflation, which peaked at 13.5% in 1981, was successfully lowered to 3.2% by 1983."
There are two other names I also heard (Jon Corzine and Larry Fink), but those seem unlikely.

We very well could get an annoucement from Barack within the next few days..or even this afternoon.  Obama is in a meeting with his economic advisory team this morning, and then will have a press conference this afternoon (all in Chicago, which is interesting in and of itself..the world has been pretty much focused on Chicago since approximately 11pm EST Tuesday night..until Mr Obama goes to Washington, tomorrow I believe).

I was looking, unsuccessfully, for a list of who would be in that meeting this morning.  Another example of the power of social networks--I posted that to my facebook status, and got a reply within minutes:

Take a look at the list of who's on the "Transition Economic Advisory Board."   My initial thoughts:

  • a pretty damn accomplished, affluent and economically astute collection of people
  • some serious finance people: certainly Rubin, Volcker, Ferguson, Summers, Buffett; prob more who I am not that familiar with (like Daley and Donaldson)
  • quite a few Clinton era folk: Reich, Rubin and Summers of course, and also Tyson (I got to meet her briefly when she returned to Berkeley a couple years ago..I got the sense she'd returned to the US from London in part to get back on the political scene)
  • good to see Rubin and Reich are both on there: the internal Clinton Administration/Democratic debate of the '90s, which Obama seeks to synthesize (not something I was really aware of until reading Leonhardt's article)
  • more CEOs than I realized go onto something like this..
  • also didn't realize politicians get included; find those choices somewhat odd--Bonior, Granholm, Villaraigosa?  With the first two, seems like the auto industry will have a couple voices at the table..


shooGu said...

Front page of the Huffington Post has photos of (L to R):
Granholm, Summers, Barack, Buffett, and Parsons

shooGu said...