After a series of depressing announcements, Barack Obama will finally turn to an economic adviser who wasn’t directly responsible for the current crisis or mentored by someone who was. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the president-elect wants former Fed Chair Paul Volcker to lead a new presidential advisory board focused on saving America from financial ruin.
According to aides, Volcker is considered too old to be Treasury secretary, but Obama wants him in the White House.
Update:It’s official. It’s difficult to say what kind of influence Volcker will actually have, since the board he will lead didn’t exist before Obama created it. If he is meant as a counterweight to Lawrence Summers and others among Rubin’s brood, he will have his work cut out for him. There are just so many filling up the Obama administration.
The panel, called the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, is modeled on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board established by then-President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, at the height of the Cold War, when officials worried that that the existing bureaucratic structure was inadequate to help the U.S. keep pace with the Soviet threat. The financial crisis has drawn similar worries that the government isn’t properly organized to monitor and respond to modern financial markets.
The board’s tasks will be broad: to help design and implement short-term programs to jump-start the economy, raise wages and living standards and confront the housing crisis. It will also address the delicate task of bolstering Washington’s oversight of the financial markets in the wake of a Wall Street collapse that has taken down many of its most venerable institutions.