Economic Recovery Advisory Board today. These are the senior people who are supposed to know what is going on in the economy. But look who is on it (see below), leaders of the financial industry, most with ties to investment banks or hedge funds, heads of large corporations, a few high tech people, some ex-Fed monetarists, a couple of labor leaders (at odds with each other), and one real economist Martin Feldstein, a very conservative guy. Yes, Feldstein didn’t like the TARP but mostly he wants financial markets to sort themselves out, which is a prescription for depression.

On the executive side, Goolsbee is also an economist, not as conservative as Feldstein but not a liberal either. And that’s rather the point. There are no liberals here. There is no Stiglitz, Krugman, or Roubini in this group. These are the wise men and women that Obama says he will turn to and that will give gravitas to his decisions. But what this shows is just how tied to the Establishment Obama remains.

This is the same Establishment which set up the conditions for the housing bubble and the financial meltdown, did nothing to prevent either, backed the disastrous responses of the Bush Administration to them, and now is proposing its own insufficient remedies.

Yes, I understand that Larry Summers fully intends to ignore everything this board is going to suggest. This will probably piss off Volcker no end, but it underlines that this is a turf battle and not the real pushback on the Summers-Geithner policies that Obama needs to hear and act on.

Paul Volcker

80 year old venerable warhorse and former head of the Fed. His high interest policies wrung inflation out of the economy at the cost of high unemployment which set up the conditions for the wage inequalities which followed

Staff Director and Chief Economist
Austan Goolsbee

Free trader from the University of Chicago, less Freidmanesque than some but thinks income inequality is a function of education not most of our economic history for the last 30 years with its tax cuts for the rich, gutting of unions, outsourcing, and globalization


William H. Donaldson

Chairman, SEC (2003-2005). He was the guy who backed the repeal of reserve or net capital rule which allowed investment banks to leverage without limit and allowed investement banks to use their own models to assess risk; former head of the New York Stock Exchange and insurance giant Aetna

Roger W. Ferguson, Jr.

President & CEO, TIAA-CREF (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund), a very large financial services company; former Fed Governor involved in international surveillance of financial markets; Board of Trustees of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) who do things like officially call recessions

Robert Wolf

Chairman and CEO of the bank UBS and continues to run its investment bank division since 2004

David F. Swensen

Chief Investment Officer of Yale University; he directs its endowment and investment fund

Mark T. Gallogly

Founder and Managing Partner of Centerbridge Partners, a hedge fund and former Managing Director of another hedge fund the well known Blackstone Group

Penny Pritzker

Chairman & Founder, Pritzker Realty Group; Chicago billionaire; national finance chair of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign

Jeffrey R. Immelt


John Doerr

Partner, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers; high tech venture capitalist

Jim Owens

Chairman and CEO, Caterpillar Inc. construction and mining equipment manufacturer with a toxic labor record

Monica C. Lozano

Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of La Opinion, the largest US Spanish language newspaper. She is also on the boards of Disney and Bank of America

Charles E. Phillips, Jr.

President, Oracle Corporation; high tech company and is on the board of directors of Morgan Stanley and Viacom

Anna Burger

Chairwoman of Change to Win, a reformist labor movement made up of 7 unions including SEIU and Teamsters that broke away from the AFL-CIO. She is also the Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU),

Richard L. Trumka

Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO that Bruger’s group broke away from and a former president of the United Mine Workers in the 1990s

Laura D’Andrea Tyson

Dean of the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. Tyson has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 1987, a Director of Morgan Stanley since 1997, a Director of AT&T since 1999 and a Director of Eastman Kodak.

Martin Feldstein

Professor of Economics at Harvard. He was a former chief economic adviser to Ronald Reagan and unsurprisingly a conservative economist. He is also the president and CEO of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and parenthetically he was Larry Summers’ doctoral thesis adviser