In case you haven’t heard, Christina Romer is stepping down as chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, effective September 3rd. It probably doesn’t shock you that the rumor mill is speculating that she’s leaving because she got sick of Larry Summers, but she says that she just wants to go back to California and be with her kids and such. Personally, I think having a nice tenured faculty position at UC Berkeley sounds better in a lot of ways than spending time in Washington getting criticized for not being able to predict things that no economists really know how to accurately predict.
A number of economists have reported and/or commented on the matter. For example, Greg Mankiw weighs in:
From my own experience in that job, I know she must be experiencing mixed emotions. On the one hand, it is an exhilarating experience to be a member of a White House team, a part of history, and the leader of a staff of smart, hard-working economists at the CEA. On the other hand, in jobs like this, one loses a great deal of autonomy. People who choose academia as a career often do so because they enjoy the personal and intellectual freedom it offers. Having spent two years without it, I appreciate that freedom all the more. I bet Christy will feel the same, after she recovers from Beltway decompression.
Other sources were less, um, politically correct in their statements:
“She has been frustrated,” a source with insight into the WH economics team said. “She doesn’t feel that she has a direct line to the president. She would be giving different advice than Larry Summers [director of the National Economic Council], who does have a direct line to the president.”
“She is ostensibly the chief economic adviser, but she doesn’t seem to be playing that role,” the source said. The WH has been pounded for its faulty forecast that unemployment would not top 8% after its economic stimulus proposal passed.
Instead, the jobless rate is 9.5%, after exceeding 10% last year. It was “a horribly inaccurate forecast,” said Bert Ely, a banking consultant. “You have to wonder why Summers isn’t the one that should be taking the fall. But Larry is a pretty good bureaucratic infighter.”
Hm. Well, I clearly don’t have the sort of inside information that people would find interesting or insightful, how I will pay tribute to Prof. Romer in the only way that I know how. I begin by recalling my favorite Christy Romer moment:
President Obama was getting his daily economic briefing one recent morning when a fly distracted him. The president swatted and missed, just as the pest buzzed near the shoes of Lawrence H. Summers, the chief White House economic adviser. “Couldn’t you aim a little higher?” deadpanned Christina D. Romer, the chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers.
Of course, this tribute wouldn’t be complete without a visual, and, thanks to The Daily Show, this is how I now picture Prof. Romer:
I think I like this image because it connotes that she would have no problem kicking Larry Summers’ ass. 🙂