Obama Meets With New Econ Team – How Populist, How Corporate?

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According to Obama’s press operation, his new “Transition Economic Advisory Board” includes the following:

– David Bonior (Member House of Representatives 1977-2003)
– Warren Buffett (Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway)
– Roel Campos (former SEC Commissioner)
– William Daley (Chairman of the Midwest, JP Morgan Chase; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Commerce, 1997-2000)
– William Donaldson (Former Chairman of the SEC 2003-2005)
– Roger Ferguson (President and CEO, TIAA-CREF and former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve)
– Jennifer Granholm (Governor, State of Michigan)
– Anne Mulcahy (Chairman and CEO, Xerox)
– Richard Parsons (Chairman of the Board, Time Warner)
– Penny Pritzker (CEO, Classic Residence by Hyatt)
– Robert Reich (University of Cal, Berkeley; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Labor, 1993-1997)
– Robert Rubin (Chairman and Director of the Executive Committee, Citigroup; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Treasury, 1995-1999)
– Eric Schmidt (Chairman and CEO, Google)
– Lawrence Summers (Harvard University; Managing Director, D.E. Shaw; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Treasury, 1999-2001)
– Laura Tyson (Former Chairman, National Economic Council, 1995-1996; Former Chairman, President’s Council of Economic Advisors, 1993-1995)
– Antonio Villaraigosa (Mayor, City of Los Angeles)
– Paul Volcker (Former Chairman, U.S. Federal Reserve 1979-1987)

Some observations. The list includes a number of corporate types and Clinton-era holdovers. While these folks are undoubtedly smart as can be, they don’t really represent the sort of bold and populist economic thinking that some progressives would like to see emerge in this time of financial crisis. It also includes a couple folks (Rubin, Summers) who oversaw the late-Clinton deregulation that got us into this mess.

Economist Dean Baker writes to Mother Jones, “The only remotely populist people on this list are Bonior and Reich. I give Buffet credit for being a smart and mostly honest guy, but populist is probably a bit of a stretch…. This group is pretty heavily Wall Street in my view, which is worse than being just corporate. That’s not a surprise, but it is a disappointment.”

The list includes four people mentioned in the press as possibilities for Treasury Secretary — Buffet, Summers, Tyson, and Volcker.

Obama will hold his first post-election press conference today at 2:30 pm EST after meeting with his new economic team. He also attends parent-teacher conferences at his daughters’ school in Chicago today.

Update: Just realized — no one from the labor community on the list.

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