Christina Romer: Who will replace her as Obama's economic adviser?

Christina Romer is leaving as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. Two front-runners have emerged to replace Christina Romer: Austan Goolsbee and Laura Tyson.

Larry Downing/Reuters/File
Christina Romer, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), testifies before a Joint Economic Committee hearing on the economy on Capitol Hill October 22, 2009. Romer announced her resignation, effective Sept. 3, on Thursday. Austan Goolsbee, a member of the three-person Council of Economic Adviser, or Laura Tyson, chair of the CEA under Bill Clinton, are likely candidates for her replacement.

Christina Romer, who announced her resignation as chair of the president's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) Thursday, has her next job squared away. She heads back to Berkeley next month to teach economics at the University of California. Beyond that, she could be a top contender to be named president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

But who will fill Ms. Romer’s shoes is less certain – there’s no official word yet on her replacement. Whoever takes the job faces sizable challenges: stimulating a lagging economy while keeping a careful eye on the national deficit and exports, which President Obama has said is a key to jump-starting the recovery.

So who’s likely to fill the post once Romer heads west? Here are the two front-runners:

Austan Goolsbee. Already a member of the three-person Council of Economic Advisers, Mr. Goolsbee is also chief economist on the president’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (which Romer will join next month).

Goolsbee, who was an economics professor at the University of Chicago’s business school before coming to the White House, has long been a close aide to the president, serving as one of Obama's economic advisers during his 2004 senate race and his 2008 presidential campaign. During the campaign, Goolsbee was a key voice calling for financial regulatory reform.

Laura Tyson. Ms. Tyson was a top economic adviser to former President Bill Clinton, serving as the chair of the CEA during his presidency, and is also a member of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Like Romer, she comes from the University of California at Berkeley; she teaches at the university’s business school.

If Tyson were chosen, she’d be the second Obama economic adviser culled from Bill Clinton's economic team. Jacob Lew, whom Mr. Obama picked to replace Peter Orszag as the administration’s budget director last month, held that position during the last three years of the Clinton adminsitration.

While both Tyson and Mr. Lew have already held the positions they're being considered for (Lew still has to be approved by Congress before taking office), they would face a very different economic climate this time around – huge deficits and a shrinking economy, instead of budget surpluses.

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