Economist Romer named to Obama's team
She'll be the third female CEA chair in 15 years to be recruited from Berkeley
| 03 December 2008
BERKELEY — On the Monday before Thanksgiving, President-elect Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate Berkeley macroeconomist Christina D. Romer, an authority on monetary policy and business cycles, to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). She will be the third Berkeley professor — all of them women — to chair the CEA since 1993.
Romer, the Class of 1957 Garff B. Wilson Professor of Economics, has taught at Berkeley since 1988. She is also co-director of the monetary economics program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and was, until last week's announcement by Obama, a member of its Business Cycle Dating Committee, which assesses periods of economic recession and recovery. (She resigned from that committee on Nov. 25, and hence did not participate in its Nov. 28 deliberations, which led to the declaration earlier this week that the U.S. economy has been in recession for a full year already.)
Romer, an American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellow, has written extensively about monetary and fiscal policy, the causes of and sources of recovery from the Great Depression, and macroeconomic fluctuations over the 20th century. "I am convinced that every concept in economics can be interesting," she wrote in an essay accompanying her 1994 UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award.
A feature story on the website of the College of Letters and Science, about the work of Romer and her husband, David Romer, also a Berkeley economist, describes the husband-and-wife team and their studies of the history of U.S. monetary policy from the Great Depression to today.
In announcing the appointment, Obama praised Romer for her "groundbreaking research on many of the topics our administration will confront — from tax policy to fighting recessions." He noted that "her clear-eyed, independent analyses have received praise from both conservative and liberal thinkers alike."
Said Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau: "There is no more important issue today than the economy and no one more prepared to help the Obama administration move the country forward than Professor Romer. Berkeley faculty have a long tradition of serving our nation at the highest levels, and we are delighted that Christina Romer will be continuing that tradition as chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers."
"This is a superb appointment," echoed Maurice Obstfeld, a Berkeley economics professor and an expert on monetary and international economics. "Given the economic challenges we are facing, the country needs a top macroeconomist heading the CEA. I can think of no one more qualified than Christy Romer."
Laura Tyson, a Berkeley professor and former dean of the Haas School of Business, served as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1993 to 1996, during the Clinton administration. Janet Yellen, a Berkeley economics professor emerita who is now president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, chaired the CEA from 1997 to 1999, also during Bill Clinton's presidency.
Numerous Berkeley scholars of the economy and related fields have contributed their expertise to past presidential administrations. Tyson and Robert Reich, a 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.
"These are exceptional times where economists can do so much to help protect the livelihoods of millions of people," said Gérard Roland, chair of the Department of Economics, in an e-mail about Romer sent to colleagues.