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Austan Goolsbee: Triathlete, improv comedian, economist

goolsbee.jpg

Austan Goolsbee, right, with Donald Kohn, vice chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, and Ben S. Bernanke, Fed chairman.

(Photo Credit: By Brendan Smialowski/Bloomberg News)

Austan Goolsbee, who will be appointed to succeed Christina Romer as chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, isn't your stereotypical, buttoned-down economist.

Goolsbee, who at 41 would be the youngest to hold that position in more than 40 years, is a triathlete who practices improv comedy in his spare time. A familiar face for the Obama administration on TV, he's as well known for poking fun at various economic policy proposals on Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" as he is for engaging in complicated debates on news talk shows.

Goolsbee was born in Waco, Tex., in 1969 and was raised mostly in California. After receiving his bachelor's degree from Yale University, he got his PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was only in his 20s when he became a professor at the University of Chicago's business school.

He overlapped with Obama at the University of Chicago but they didn't meet until Obama's 2004 Senate campaign, when some advisers who knew Goolsbee called him for advice. Obama has sought his advice ever since.

Official White House biography

University of Chicago profile page

Curriculum Vitae

On the Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Academic paper: "In a World Without Borders: The Impact of Taxes on Internet Commerce"

Ezra Klein's Seven things to know about Austan Goolsbee

George Will on Goolsbee: "The Democratic Economist"

Profile by Politico's Ben Smith

In October 2009, Goolsbee took home the top prize in the 16th annual "D.C.'s Funniest Celebrity" contest. Watch the video, via Politico, here:

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  |  September 10, 2010; 9:33 AM ET
Categories:  President's Council of Economic Advisors  
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Comments

Austan Goolsbee supported reckless lending policies that led to the sub-prime mortgage meltdown. He is 5 parts left wing politician, 1 part pop economic theorist. His appointment tells us what we already know about Obama: he doesn't really give a damn if America emerges from the Depression he brewed through his BigGov activism, just so long as his wealth redistribution policies and the browning of the electorate continue apace. Clearly, Obama sees the US in its moment of extremis, and he wants to guarantee it will never recover, even if the Republicans come roaring back to power in November.

Posted by: greg3 | September 10, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Hilarious. No wonder this country's econ is SO screwed up (non-partisan). Goolsbee has NEVER had to actually APPLY his "expertise" in the real world of econ. TOTAL theory guy.
Ergo, he isn't an expert. He hasn't had to base his earnings on successful application of his edu as he has never held a nonacademic position in his life. If there is a god, we sure need his/her/its help.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Wonderful, just freaking lovely wonderful. Obama picks yet another academic, who's "different" from the previous academic "economic advisor" because in addition to being an economist, he's also a triathlete who practices improv comedy in his spare time. WHAT KIND OF REAL WORLD BUSINESS EXPERIENCE does he have, hmmmmmm????

"Poking fun" is hardly the way to round out the academic background for someone who's going to provide "econimic advice" (as if that were possible) to the Prez.

What we have here is just another example of a government run by the delinquents from Animal House - the Delta Tau Chi gang- the only one missing is Senator “Bluto” Blutarsky. (Actually I think I’ve seen him, but he changed his identity when he was in the Federal witness protection game)

Yecchh! Well, stupid is as stupid does, and this outfit is definitely stuck on stupid.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Born in Waco, Tex. in 1969, he was raised mostly in California. After receiving his bachelor's degree from Yale University, he got his Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was only in his 20s when he became a professor at the University of Chicago's business school.
=====================

So, we're getting a guy with a PhD in economics, but who, like his boss, has never run a business. Somehow, with this crowd, it figures. On the plus side, the way things are going with the economy it might help to have a comedian on the Obama team. He can also trade jokes with Senator Al Franken.

Posted by: AprilF1 | September 10, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Oh goody, another trickle-down pro-business anti-middle and working class Obama pal.

MORE business tax breaks ahead even though they have never EVER worked before!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Several questions...Can someone explain to me how running a business would make someone more qualified to serve as chief economic adviser than someone who is an economic academic??? Further, why does there seem to be such disdain for academics in this country lately??? Do any of you making dismissive comments about academics and their lack of real world experience actually understand what academics do for a living?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Obama must think it's a joke that 15 million people are out of work. The tsunami is coming, progressives, commies, whatever. Obama's chickens, as they say, are comin home to roost. The power shift back to the people in America will be significant and we will use that power to hold the corrupt accountable.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Dear Anonymous, the quote goes, "those that can't do, teach."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Some hilariously asked: "Several questions...Can someone explain to me how running a business would make someone more qualified to serve as chief economic adviser than someone who is an economic academic???"

Umm, because AT LEAST he would have been exposed to the real world of eco and been able apply, if only on a micro scale, some of the theory he learned. And, if you don't know what that means, please, NEVER vote again.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

If you live your life by popular quotes you are doomed to learn nothing... I would suggest people learn about the work of an academic before you boil it down to ALL THEORY or assume their work is just about teaching.

Posted by: wilsonmg_2000 | September 10, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Goolsbee pooh-poohed globalism as the cause for troubles.

Posted by: etronsen | September 10, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Was the part of the article that explains exactly why this guy is qualified to head the economic council accidentally deleted or something?

Posted by: peterg73 | September 10, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Wow, quite a few haters out today. The idea that a man with an MIT PHD in economics be promoted to lead Obama' Council of Economic Advisers is shocking! how dare they promote someone who actually knows macro economic theory vs have run some middling business. How dare they promote someone who has a knowledge of cross industry economic integration and foreign economic policy impact vs someone who has simply been a service provider and managed a company and written pay checks.

I own my own business and could give ideas on the micro economy but I doubt few of us know the intricies of where domestic debt meets inflationary concern meets foreign goods production meets technology investmen meets angel investing meets banking policies toward small businesses meets pump priming, etc. Give it a rest.

Posted by: cadam72 | September 10, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous, the problem with your assertion about the business person with the micro experience being better qualified to serve as an economic adviser is this. They have no training, understanding, or experience addressing complex macro-economic issues. These are the issues that an economic adviser addresses. Whether you choose to see it or not, there is a considerable difference between running a business and understanding the complex relationships among economic variables....maybe you should be the one considering voting abstinence.

Posted by: wilsonmg_2000 | September 10, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Funny I read all of the disparaging remarks about theoretical economics (which I in part agree to a point) but let's face it we've had business people i.e. W in the White House and that turned our just wonderfully. We've seen trickle down turn into tinkle down and the greedy get wealthier. Since the middle class is suffering I would suggest ideas instead of mindless assertions. If you look to the right we have enough of that. As for myself I admit I do not have the answers. I wish I did so I could share them.

Posted by: Wizfan4ever | September 10, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Here's what Dr. Foolsbee said about subprime mortgages in a 2007 NYT column:

"...the mortgage market has become more perfect, not more irresponsible. People tend to make good decisions about their own economic prospects. ..."

SOURCE: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/29/business/29scene.html?ex=1332820800&en=9a15c212b118d691&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

So, a bunch of PC Republican idiots got us into this mess, and a bunch of PC Democratic idiots are going to make sure it only gets worse.

Civil War II by 2013!

Posted by: pmendez | September 10, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I've got some new material for Goolsbee's stand-up routine: How much national debt is too much? It doesn't matter because, in the long run, we're all dead. What is it with these Keynesian's anyway? They want to take our money so that they can improve our standard of living. If that's case, then I've got a new jobs program for you. Open the prisons and turn the inmates into tax collectors. Who needs census takers to lower the unemployment rate? And why not just let the "tax collectors" keep what they've collected and cut out the middle man. Now that's being innovative. Not your grandfather's wealth re-distribution...err...stimulus plan.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

"They have no training, understanding, or experience "

Hoisted by your own petard. This guy has ZERO experience in successfully applying macro econ theory. (post showing he has EVER successfully applied ANY of his knowledge to a macro econ) If you can't pls off yourself as you aren't intelligent enough to take up valuable O2. If you can't understand THAT and the import of it. PLEASE stay away from the voting booth at least.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I think he'll do just fine as the Chairman of the the Council of Economic Advisors. He'll do a better job than the last one did.

Posted by: blakesouthwood | September 10, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

From the same council of "respected" (and I really do mean this tongue in cheek) economic advisers that trashed Berksley Born who was desperately trying to warn about the dangers of derivatives and regulate that market. The only one missing from this "esteemed" group of economic sages is Greenspan. Greenspan, who wouldn't admit his lifelong economic model had failed and caved to Wall Street bailouts. Then you wonder why the American public fails to sign on to your flawed economic policies. Go watch a football game gentlemen. It's a safer distraction than allowing you to set economic policies for this country.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | September 10, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Another Keynesian...

But the keynesian experiment failed.

Frankly, obama deserves the nobel for this... and I am not joking.

We have ABSOLUTE proof that govt spending cannot significantly add real jobs to the economy.

We have carried out the experiment... and the results were/are PERFECTLY CLEAR.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

What do we want a guy who ran a gas station?

We already had a guy who ran a failed oil company and screwed up a baseball team.

Right we need more of them.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous, great job with the ad-hominem attacks as a means to argument...makes you sound smart!

But seriously, in short the way that economists of Dr. Goolsbee's ilk apply their work is largely through advising policy makers at the various levels of government to effect change and then evaluate the implications of the policy. Isn't this what he has been doing for sometime now? The extent to which his predictions and advice worked as he thought can be argued. But I'm not sure how you can argue that a business person applies macroeconomic theory???

Posted by: wilsonmg_2000 | September 10, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

The only thing that matters is whether or not he is able to nudge our pricing mechanisms back towards accurate reflective value pricing and more efficient distribution.

Our markets are completely messed up, and no one in particular is addressing this.

Our financial institutions are not correctly pricing the money they lend, the real estate market is mis-assessing values in both the home and commercial markets, and the labor market has assigned completely dysfunctional values to the price of labor, ie., salaries.

Somebody better do something.

Posted by: bhun2 | September 10, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"Dr. Goolsbee's ilk apply their work is largely through advising policy makers at the various levels of government to effect change and then evaluate the implications of the policy. Isn't this what he has been doing for sometime now?"

Yep, so show implemented ideas of his that have ACTUALLY improved an economy or, remove the claim that he is an EXPERT in anything other than being a student. I'll wait. But, I won't hold my breath. In short, put up or shut up.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Has ANY economist ever been right about any economic theory? Didn't think so.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

It's time to bring our troops home and stop bleeding money out of America to the Republicant's comrades in Red China and overseas.

And invest it in America.

Whoever we get has to understand that basic FACT.

Anyone else is not suited for the job.

Posted by: WillSeattle | September 10, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Two American economists have regularly and correctly predicted the futurte outcomes of our economic polcies at the time they were implemented: Joseph Steglitz and Paul Krugman. Obama needs one of them, not another Ruben/Summers/Greenspan clone.

Posted by: mcstowy | September 10, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I read on a liberal blog that he was once a lobbyist for Goldman Sachs - yet another reason why I won't vote for Obama again.

But that should at least make you parasite Republicans happy.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

@mcstowy:

I'd take Nouriel Roubini over Steglitz or Krugman any day.

Posted by: pmendez | September 10, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous, first, I don't feel it's my personal responsibility to defend Dr. Goolsbee. If you want to know about the work hes done as an economic consultant and the positive or negative "effects" of his policy advice, then feel free to look it up yourself. Second, outside of you knowing that information, you are simply speaking without any facts to support your argument that he is not qualified. Third, rather than dismissing the work of people (work you clearly don't understand by the way) you should learn about it and then come to some conclusion about their qualifications versus joe the coffe shop owner, or even a large business owner.

Posted by: wilsonmg_2000 | September 10, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Great .......another clueless left-winger from one of America's left-wing colleges....

November 2nd can't come quick enough.......

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

fail

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I laughed till I cried!

Posted by: zippidy1 | September 12, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

I think I saw him at a Frat Party recently!

Posted by: zippidy1 | September 12, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Cmon. let's cut the guy some slack. He just got a job probably as a pay back favor from some college days. And apparently,he's becoming more popular as a comedian, than an economist,and he has to turn America's economic situation around or at least report bad news to us that nothing really can be done...... so....... see you at the improv !

Posted by: zippidy1 | September 12, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Who else but a comedian should fill this role? obama has made our economic status a joke so why not hand it over to somebody that make a joke of everything?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

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