Obama Turns To Cal for Top Economic Pick

Cal economics professor Christina Romer tapped

Obama Turns To Cal for Top Economic Pick

With the economy in crisis, President-elect Barack Obama has chosen a UC Berkeley professor, an authority in identifying monetary shocks, to be the Chair of his Council of Economic Advisors.

Christina D. Romer joined the Cal faculty in 1988, according to the school's Web site.

She will be charged, along with two other Obama appointees, with advising the president in preparing an Economic Report, as well as creating studies relevant to economic policy and legislation.

The economics professor also specializes in teaching about the effects of fiscal policy, American macroeconomic policy, changes in market fluctuations and the causes of the Great Depression.

"I am convinced that every concept in economics can be interesting," she wrote in an essay accompanying her 1994 UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award.

Obama and many economists have said the current economic crisis may be the worst one America has seen since the Great Depression.

Obama said his newly minted economic team offered "sound judgment and fresh thinking" at a time of economic peril.

"The economy is likely to get worse before it gets better," he said in a downbeat forecast, delivered as Americans head into the year-end holiday season.

At the same time, he expressed confidence the nation would weather the crisis "because we've done it before."

Obama praised Romer for her "groundbreaking research on many of the topics our administration will confront - from tax policy to fighting recessions." He said that "her clear-eyed, independent analyses have received praise from both conservative and liberal thinkers alike."

According to her biography, Romer, an economic history and macroeconomic expert, was promoted to full professorship at UC Berkeley in 1993.

She is currently co-director of the Program in Monetary Economics at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award at Cal.

Romer also taught as an assistant professor at M.I.T. and Princeton in the 1980s.

Laura Tyson, a UC Berkeley professor and former dean of UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, served as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1993 to 1996, during the Clinton administration.

Janet Yellen, a UC Berkeley economics professor emeritus who is now president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, chaired the CEA from 1997 to 1999, also during Clinton's presidency.

Several UC Berkeley scholars of the economy and related fields have contributed their expertise to past presidential administrations.

Tyson and Robert Reich, a UC Berkeley professor of public policy and former U.S. labor secretary in the Clinton administration, are part of the team assisting with the transition to Obama's presidency.

Obama Picks Top Economic Advisors

In his press conference Monday, Obama pledged to honor the commitments the outgoing Bush administration has made to rescue financial markets and urged the new, incoming Congress to pass a major stimulus package "right away" to restore growth and create jobs.

"Most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year," Obama said at a somber news conference 57 days before he takes the oath of office.

He declined to say how big a spending package he wants to revive the economy, but he said, "It's going to be costly." Some Democratic lawmakers are speculating about a two-year measure as large as $700 billion.

The president-elect introduced the top economic advisers for his new administration, beginning with New York Federal Reserve President Tim Geithner to be his treasury secretary. Geithner, 47, is a veteran of financial crises at home and overseas and has worked closely with the Bush administration in recent months.

Obama chose Lawrence Summers as director of his National Economic Council. Summers was treasury secretary under former President Bill Clinton.

The president-elect was mildly critical of the Big Three automakers, saying he was surprised they did not have a better-thought-out plan for their future before asking Congress to approve $25 billion in emergency loans.

He said once he sees a plan, he expects "we're going to be able to shape a rescue."

Obama also announced that Melody Barnes would serve as director of his White House Domestic Policy Council.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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