Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Obama's Economic Team: Reactions Roundup

Posted by Staff, Huffington Post at 1:42 PM on November 24, 2008.

Barack Obama officially announced the key players in his economic team. Some reactions are excited, others doubtful.

President-elect Barack Obama officially announced the key players in his economic team just this morning, but already economics and politics sites have reacted to the news.

The Economist has praised Obama's pick of Tim Geithner for Treasury Secretary saying, "...ah glorious, glorious competence. How we've missed you.":

...Mr Geithner brings two crucial qualities. First, he represents continuity. From the first days of the crisis last year, he has worked hand in glove with Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, and Mr Paulson. He can continue to do so while awaiting confirmation. If Citigroup, for example, needs federal help, Mr Geithner will be involved. An unknown when he joined the New York Fed in 2003, he is now a familiar face to the most senior executives on Wall Street and to central bankers and finance ministers overseas.

Second, he represents competence. He has spent more time on financial crises, from Mexico and Thailand to Brazil and Argentina, than probably any other policymaker in office today. Mr Geithner understands better than almost anyone that in crises you throw out the forecast and focus on avoiding low probability events with catastrophic consequences. Such judgments are excruciating: do too little, and you undermine confidence and generate a bigger crisis that needs even bigger policy action. Do too much, and you look panicked and invite blowback from Wall Street, Congress and the press. At times during the crisis Mr Geithner would counsel Mr Bernanke on the importance of the right "ratio of drama to effectiveness".

Former Clinton Secretary of Labor and current go-to wonk commentator Robert Reich praised the group's competence as well:

All are pragmatists. Some media have dubbed them "centrists" or "center-right," but in truth they're remarkably free of ideological preconception. All have well-earned reputations as hard workers, well-versed in the technical details of public and private finance. They are not visible veterans of the old battles over supply-side economics or deficit reduction, nor are they well-known to the public. They are not visionaries but we don't need visionaries when the economic perils are clear and immediate. We need competence. Obama could not appoint a more competent group.

Despite the "socialist" smears that pervaded the end of the campaign, Political Punch has a statement from the pro-business US Chamber of Commerce president praising Obama's picks

US Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued the following statement on the announcement of President-elect Barack Obama's economic team: "President-elect Obama has chosen a strong, experienced economic team. Restoring the nation's economic health must be our top priority and the Chamber stands ready to work with the new administration to spur growth and job creation. This team brings a wealth of knowledge to Washington and an understanding that any sustainable economic recovery will involve the business sector."

"Tim Geithner has a deep understanding of our capital markets and the experience and credibility to tackle our nation's biggest challenge -- restoring our economy and rebuilding our financial markets. He has been directly engaged in all the steps taken so far to address this unprecedented crisis and is well qualified to lead the Treasury Department. Larry Summers' knowledge of economic issues and past experience as Treasury secretary will serve President Obama well. Likewise, Christina Romer and Melody Barnes will bring an understanding that any sustainable economic recovery will involve the business sector."

The American Prospect's Erza Klein praised Obama's selection of Peter Orszag for head of OMB:

If you're interested in health care reform, the appointment of Peter Orszag to be director of the Office of Management and Budget is second only in importance to the the elevation of Tom Daschle to health czar and HHS secretary.

OMB is a strange place. It's incredibly important, but also somewhat amorphous. It's a cabinet level agency that offers policy recommendations to the president, scores programs, builds the yearly budget. It is how the executive branch imposes empirical rigor on its agencies, and coheres their work into a single budget. In that way, it is the connective tissue of the federal bureaucracy. And the director sits atop all that, sets many of the agency's priorities, and is, generally, one of the president's top policy advisers.

Open Left, however, had a critique of the picks:

Really? Obama is going with someone who is currently executing the bailout? While Geithner isn't Larry Summers, that still strikes me as less than change-y. Policy by Dow people seem to like it, but such metrics have proven their worthlessness in the recent past, as the stock market continues to tumble several weeks after the Wall Street bailout was signed into law.


Tagged as: barack obama, politics news, larry summers, christina romer, melody barnes, obama cabinet, obama economy, obama's economic team, tim geithner

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