More on Larry Summers leaving the White House

September 22, 2010

A few additional thoughts about Larry Summers leaving the White House and going back to Harvard:

1. His replacement as director of the National Economic Council will be an interesting tea leaf.  Obama’s recent replacements for WH budget chief,  Jack Lew, and head of his council of economic advisers, Austan Goolsbee, were steps toward the center. Another centrist (like Jason Furman) could hint at The Pivot, a POTUS effort to work with a congress next year that will likely be far more Republican. And a liberal pick (Jared Bernstein) though, could be a signal to Obama’s base that the president intends to double-down on Obamanomics 1.0.  Markets would like the former, not the latter.

2. On substance, the new NEC head might not be that big a deal. The position will likely revert to that of a coordinator from being the high-level policymaking job it was with Summers who was basically Obama’s maximum economist, at least in 2009.

3. I know that business is clamoring for a CEO to get the gig. And while I think it would be fantastic to get someone in the White House with significant private sector experience, I really want someone who is more pro-market more than pro-business. We need to get rid of corporate pork and take a more realistic approach to China’s anti-market trading position.

4. These are some of the names I was Tweeting (https://twitter.com/JimPethokoukis) yesterday afternoon (followed by odds from Paddy Power): Ann Fudge (5/2), Laura Tyson (11/4), Anne Mulcahy (6/1), Jason Furman (4/1), Mark Zandi (9/1), Diana Farrell (9/2),  Jeffrey Immelt (8/1), Gene Sperling (9/2), Richard Parsons (10/1), Gary Gensler (10/1).

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The WH is too male dominated. Bring in some women economists and budget experts. Laura Tyson is well respected but she may not want to leave her attractive life in Berkeley CA. What about Susan Athey – the brilliant Clark medallist? What about Carmen Reinhart? Janet Yellin? Linda Bilmes? Caroline Hoxby? Esther Duflo? There are plenty of good candidates if you look hard enough.

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