Sunday, August 8, 2010

Christina Romer resigns...

You no doubt have heard or read that Christina Romer, Obama’s Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, has resigned and will leave her post in early September.  She will probably return to her tenured, full professorship at the University of California, Berkeley where she has an adjoining office with her husband, fellow economist David Romer.  
We first wrote about Christy Romer when President-elect Obama was about to be inaugurated. [Here]  We were particularly excited then because we were noting and counting the number of women that Obama was choosing to include in his administration.  What impact she has had is is hard to evaluate.  She and other advisors were immediately tasked to put together a stimulus package which they did.  It has been widely reported that Romer, whose particular expertise is the economics of the Great Depression, wanted a much larger package--over a trillion dollars.  She didn’t get it.  (So did other scholars of the Great Depression, such as Paul Krugman.  They were all disappointed.)
Guess who argued for a smaller package?  Larry Summers.  Guess who won?  Larry Summers.  Guess who isn’t resigning?  Larry Summers.  Guess who have already resigned from Obama’s economic team?  Not Larry Summers, but Christy Romer and Peter Orszag, head of the WH Office of Management and Budget.   And guess who Orszag had problems with?  Yep, Larry Summers.
The Opinionator blog in the NYTimes by Tobin Harshaw dug up in Time Magazine an interesting peek into an aggressive male culture within Obama’s White House’s: [Here]
At a March 29 symposium on women in finance at the Treasury Department, Romer expanded on some of the frustrations she has had on the job.  “I think the other thing that I have definitely noticed in the White House and elsewhere is just difference in how people communicate, right?” she said.  “I’ve never had to interrupt people before in my life, right?  This is, sort of, just simply the aggressiveness or the taking turns. . . . You just — sometimes, you’ve got to speak up even when there isn’t a gap in the conversation. 
It’s sad to read that Obama allows the who-has-the-sharpest-elbows game to be played in policy discussions.  Thoughtful folks never win that game and that is what we need right now--thoughtful folks. 
We are also getting the picture that Larry Summers and Treasury Secretary Geithner have the inside track on the formation of White House economic policy.  As we all know, both are well connected with Wall Street.   I wonder if anyone is counting the number of females who remain to formulate our national fiscal policy.
Mr. President, wouldn’t it be a good time to appoint Elizabeth Warren so she could protect the little guys?
We say goodbye to Christina Romer and wish her well back in California with her family.  All she will have to worry about is her class schedules and an academic calendar.  She doesn’t even have to attend every faculty meeting.
Why not write a book, Christy...

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