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Summers Announced As Obama Economic Advisor

Former University President is officially tapped to lead the National Economic Council

By Alexandra perloff-giles, Crimson Staff Writer

President-elect Barack Obama announced that former University President Lawrence H. Summers will be heading the National Economic Council yesterday.

As the president’s senior economic advisor, Summers will coordinate White House economic policy both on the domestic and foreign fronts.

Obama also nominated Timothy F. Geithner, current chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, as Treasury Secretary, a position which Summers held under President Clinton from 1999 to 2001 and for which he was short-listed this time around.

In his opening statement at yesterday’s press conference, Obama emphasized the importance of strong leadership during this “economic crisis of historic proportions.”

“We’ll need to bring together the best minds in America to guide us,” he said, adding that his nominees “offer both sound judgment and fresh thinking, both a depth of experience and a wealth of bold new ideas.”

Obama called Summers “one of the great economic minds of our time” and said he will bring “a singular combination of skill, intellect and experience to the role he will play in our administration.”

Summers will not have to quit his teaching post at Harvard when he leaves for Washington, according to James H. Stock, the chair of Harvard’s economics department.

“Harvard allows you to take an extended leave for high level public service for two years and that’s typically done, so I wouldn’t expect him to resign,” Stock said.

Summers is currently slated to teach two classes this spring.

During a leave of absence, faculty members are not paid and have no duties at the University.

Summers has already resigned his part-time post as a managing director of New York-based hedge fund the D.E. Shaw Group, according to the firm’s spokesman, Paul B. Welsh.

Max Stone, a managing director at D.E. Shaw, said in a statement that while the firm was sorry to lose Summers, “we’re confident that the nation will benefit greatly from his economic leadership during a time when his formidable problem-solving skills are especially needed.”

Obama also named Christina D. Romer chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and appointed Melody C. Barnes and Heather A. Higginbottom to serve as director and deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council.

The president-elect has already asked his economic team to consult with Congress, the current administration, and the Federal Reserve on economic developments over the next two months, to brief him daily, and to issue recommendations for a recovery plan.

—Staff writer Alexandra Perloff-Giles can be reached at aperloff@fas.harvard.edu.

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