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Obama to name Austan Goolsbee head of his economic advisory council

Appointment of the president's longtime friend, advisor and colleague at the University of Chicago comes after the departure of Christina Romer.

September 10, 2010|By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Washington — President Obama will name economist Austan Goolsbee to head his Council of Economic Advisors during a news conference Friday, filling a crucial position with a longtime advisor and friend from his tenure at the University of Chicago.

A data-driven economist known for his work in tax policy, Goolsbee will step up from his current position as a member of the CEA to head the council at a crucial moment, according to an administration official.

The position was vacated last week by Berkeley economist Christina Romer, who left after a brutal 20 months of wrestling with the faltering economy. Romer said she wanted to return to California for family reasons, but she also is under consideration to run the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank.

Romer's departure opened an important position in the White House, especially given Obama's latest emphasis on the economy.

This week he launched a push for a new series of economic initiatives, including several business tax credits he hopes will spur the economy. The White House's fall election strategy is based on those plans and on a proposal to allow the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

Goolsbee, 41, has long been considered a prime candidate to succeed Romer because of his longstanding relationship with the president. The two men have known each other since 2004 when both were teaching at the University of Chicago.

His appointment does not require Senate confirmation, but his successor on the council will require Senate approval.

Goolsbee will assume the chairman's position right away, said the official, who requested anonymity because the formal announcement has not yet been made.

A native of Waco, Texas, Goolsbee was a summa cum laude graduate in economics from Yale University. He received his master's degree in economics from Yale and his doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

At 31, Goolsbee was the youngest person at the time to be appointed full professor at the University of Chicago.

He served as co-director of the university's Initiative on Global Markets and was a member of the Panel of Economic Advisers to the Congressional Budget Office and of the Census Advisory Commission.

He is on leave from the university.

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