Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Roger Altman to replace Larry Summers?

By Ezra Klein

Roger Altman, who served as deputy secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration, met with President Obama yesterday. Bloomberg is reporting that he's a leading candidate to replace Larry Summers as director of the National Economic Council.

The wonks over at the New Republic aren't happy about this. Jon Chait thinks him too friendly to the business community. Jon Cohn is agog that the Obama administration would add another member of Wall Street to its economic team. James Downie grabs a quote from Andrew Ross Sorkin's book that suggests some on Wall Street don't trust Altman, either.

I don't know much about Altman, so I'm not going to try and adjudicate this. It seems to me that if the administration wants someone from the business community, they should expand beyond Wall Street and look for a CEO of some sort in hiring from the business community. A former Clinton administration official who now runs a boutique bank is not a close substitute. On the other hand, if there's an argument that Altman is the best person for the NEC job because he's simply the best person for the NEC job, I'm open to hearing it.

By Ezra Klein  | November 17, 2010; 12:04 PM ET
Categories:  Economic Policy, Obama administration  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: 'Armed with clear data and even clearer blue eyes'
Next: Lunch Break

Comments

"New Republican" -- Freudian Slip or intentional slam at Marty Peretz's publication?

Posted by: vvf2 | November 17, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Pretty funny column. I've seen Altman speak many times. He's pretty moderate on the big issues.

The really funny stuff is the writers you've linked. Here's what Jon Cohn thinks is heavy criticism of him:

"As my colleague James Downie reminds me, he wrote a widely quoted New York Times op-ed in July arguing that

the tension between President Obama and the business community is hurting both sides and may hamper economic recovery. Closing that divide requires the business community to mute its criticism, and the administration to make personnel and policy adjustments. Neither should be hard."

If that's the WORST that can be said about him, then wow, what a juvenile group of writers these are!

Funny also how everybody you quote says the same thing "I don't know that much about him", but it's the supposedly pro-business label that kills.

Exactly where do you think the jobs are going to come from to relieve unemployment? Oh wait I know it's all "small businesses", mom and pop operations that hire the handicapped and the homeless and take part in a lot of photo-ops. Oh no, I'm wrong. It's the "green jobs" in places like California and Minnesota (where they are ACTUALLY laying off people in green tech in both places, but never mind).

Why don't we just bring the "pro business" Christina Romer back, as you have suggested before Ezra?

Posted by: 54465446 | November 17, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't gonna say this, but that would be unlike me. LOL

"I don't know much about Altman, so I'm not going to try and adjudicate this. It seems to me that if the administration wants someone from the business community, they should hire someone from the business community. A former Clinton administration official who now runs a boutique bank is not a close substitute"

Your lack of knowledge about Altman is pretty damning on it's face. If you spent ANY time at all in business news, you would know him. The boutique bank crack means that you don't realize this guy is tied to everyone in the business community. He was a early member of Blackstone, which you would characterize as "some hedge fund", and has been an investment banker his whole life.

You may never before have written anything which blatantly shows your extreme lack of knowledge about the country's business and it's leadership than this.

"if the administration wants someone from the business community, they should hire someone from the business community"

like Paul Krugman maybe

Posted by: 54465446 | November 17, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

vvf2:

I wondered the same thing. While I like Chait and Cohn and lots of others at TNR, they are too hawkish for my taste and if someone wants to call it the New Republican that's fine. But it seems out of character for Ezra to be doing it here, so I assume it is a mistake.

Posted by: Castorp1 | November 17, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Ezra: I don't think you meant "agog".

Posted by: paul65 | November 17, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

"It seems to me that if the administration wants someone from the business community, they should expand beyond Wall Street and look for a CEO of some sort in hiring from the business community."

Go back to the history books. Carter and Blumenthal (ex-CEO of Bendix) didn't work out very well. Reagan had his in-house Wall Streeter in Regan. GHWB had his in Brady. GWB recruited Fortune 100 business CEOs (one ex-Alcoa, the other ex-railroad) earlier in his administration as Treasury secretaries. It is hard to imagine that they could have accomplished what Paulson (ex-Goldman Sachs) did in his last 5-6 months during the financial meltdown. Draw your own conclusions from that.

Posted by: tuber | November 17, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

"if there's an argument that Altman is the best person for the NEC job because he's simply the best person for the NEC job, I'm open to hearing it"

He's not a #@&* economist!!

Knowing how to maximize the profit for your own single business only is not the same as knowing how to maximize the GDP or total utility of the entire very complicated system of businesses, consumers, and government.

It's like picking an expert in the physics of molecules to design and maintain your computer system. You want someone who's had years of education and training in designing computers and systems of computers, not in only knowing how single individual molecules work.

For more on this see:

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/01/macroeconomics-is-hard/

and my comment on that post.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | November 17, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I mean the job is not finance industry adviser. It's director of the National ECONOMIC Council.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | November 17, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

richard:

What business is conducted in this country without finance?

Posted by: 54465446 | November 17, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Of COURSE Obama would pick somebody like that! Did you really think for a moment that Obama would actually choose somebody who would be good news for anybody who wasn't rich?

Posted by: solsticebelle | November 17, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Given how many have turned down the job this is probably the best they could do ... nice work BO ...

Posted by: cunn9305 | November 17, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

For all those who would prefer a CEO of some corporation...there isn't one who wants the role. The position has no real authority to do anything but give advice to Obama which he will heed or ignore as he chooses. And, Obama has tried so hard to badmouth business at every turn that no CEO wants to be near him.

Posted by: liseliz | November 17, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

54465446,

What body could function without red blood cells? So when you see a strange lump on your throat are you going to have a red blood cell scientist diagnose and treat it, who only knows about red blood cells, or are you going to go to a physician, who's trained in the body as a whole and how that whole system functions and interacts together?

What car can run without gas (except for the Volt and Leaf)? so when your car breaks down are you going to go to a petrochemist to diagnose and repair it, or an auto mechanic, who's studied how the entire system of your car works and interacts?

What sports league could exist without molecules? So when you want someone to profitably run the NFL should you hire a molecular physicist? Or someone with knowledge and training in running a sports league?

Read the Krugman post.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | November 17, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Richard:

I read and understood your post, I simply disagree. It all comes down to the movement of money. While I would largely agree that the CEO of a natiowide auto transmission company may not have the expertise to be Council on Economic Advisors, that is not who we're talking about. Investment banking, like it or not, simply IS the world of finance in a way that most economists can never experience.

I actually have nothing against economists. All investment banks and financial firms use them, including some terrific ones, and some like Jeremy Grantham and Jeremy Siegler run their own money.

However a guy like Krugman, like Dean Baker, like Christina Romer is like hiring a football coach who not only never played the game themself, but have never even seen a game except on tv. It MAY work out right, but that is not the way to bet.

One quick example. Because Romer has never been in the position of meeting expectations before, she oversold on her forecasts that unemployment would come down to 8%. An experienced person would have been far less likely to do so, under promising with 11% unemployment and then over delivering with 10%. Her inexperience hurt the president.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 17, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

http://www.ashops.us

Wow! This site:

More expensive, fashion, and good products.

Acquisition will have little present.

http://www.ashops.us is a good site.

The discovery like this.

Come and buy! !

Posted by: lizhiyong120 | November 17, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

http://www.ashops.us

Wow! This site:

More expensive, fashion, and good products.

Acquisition will have little present.

http://www.ashops.us is a good site.

The discovery like this.

Come and buy! !

Posted by: lizhiyong120 | November 17, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

"However a guy like Krugman, like Dean Baker, like Christina Romer is like hiring a football coach who not only never played the game themself..."

No, hiring a guy like Krugman is like hiring a Nobel Prize winning oncologist to cure your cancer even though he's never had cancer himself, he's only studied it intensely for decades. General economists like Krugman study finance extensively.

Romer did forecast that we'd need a much bigger stimulus, and did warn of the risks. The fault was not with her, but with the political people and the difficulty of getting an adequate stimulus by the Republicans armed with the filibuster and an unprecedented willingness to use it for everything.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | November 17, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Richard wrote:

"No, hiring a guy like Krugman is like hiring a Nobel Prize winning oncologist to cure your cancer even though he's never had cancer himself, he's only studied it intensely for decades."

No it would be like hiring the guy who taught classes in advanced chemistry and biology to the oncologist at the university but who never treated any patients himself or ever left the university, but happily criticizes every actual patient treating doctor who disagrees with him.

We could on like this for days, never changing each other's opinion. LOL

It has however been an enjoyable discussion and I thank you.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 17, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Obama is destroying America at every turn. 2012 will hopefully get rid of this marxist madman.

Posted by: sesp | November 18, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Obama is destroying America at every turn. 2012 will hopefully get rid of this marxist madman.

Posted by: sesp | November 18, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company