President-elect Barack Obama announced today that Christina D. Romer, a professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, would serve as chairman of his administration’s Council of Economic Advisers.
Ms. Romer (left) earned her doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985 and has taught at Berkeley since 1988. Her best-known papers explore the successes and follies of monetary policy during the 20th century. (Not long ago she wrote an Encyclopædia Britannica entry on the Great Depression.)
In a 1994 paper titled “What Ends Recessions?” (written with her husband, David Romer, a professor of political economy at Berkeley), she argued that interest-rate reductions, not tax cuts, have played the most important role in ending American recessions since 1945. That might be bad news: In the present crisis, the Federal Reserve’s interest rates are already near zero, so there is not much scope to bring them lower.
In Monday’s announcement, Mr. Obama also confirmed this weekend’s reports that Lawrence H. Summers, a former president of Harvard University, will be director of the National Economic Council. (Harvard faculty members — including some who were among the fiercest critics of Mr. Summers’s management style during his five-year tenure as Harvard’s president — praised his appointment to Mr. Obama’s economic team today, The Boston Globe reported.)
One topic that might be on Ms. Romer’s and Mr. Summers’s lips when they stand around the White House water cooler: Earlier this year, Mr. Summers’s successor at Harvard, Drew Gilpin Faust, reportedly vetoed a faculty committee’s recommendation to hire Ms. Romer away from Berkeley. The rejection was reported in May by David Warsh, a freelance economics journalist, and by The Harvard Crimson. Ms. Faust has not spoken publicly about the matter. —David Glenn