President Obama Appoints Betsey Stevenson to the CEA

Some big news: the White House has recently announced that the newest member of the Council of Economic Advisers will be my favorite economist, and a long-time friend of this blog, Betsey Stevenson.  She’ll be joining Harvard’s Jim Stock and the newly announced CEA Chairman, Jason Furman on the three-member council,  which serves as the President’s main source of advice on economic policy. 

When I say that I’m thrilled about this news, I’m speaking not just as a dismal scientist, but also as Betsey’s co-author, colleague, co-parent and domestic partner.  The CEA has a special role as a bridge between ivory tower academic economists and the levers of public policy.  They’re our best hope for ensuring that the sharpest insights of economists can elbow past the political machinations that dominate D.C., and the list of past CEA members reads like a who’s who of the economics profession.  And there’s never been a more important time to be working as a labor economist than during a period of mass unemployment.

Honestly, I’m about as proud as an economist is allowed to be.

On the personal side, it’s a bit of a whirlwind.  I’m looking forward to reprising the role of “supporting partner,” and right now, we’re trying to quickly re-organize our lives around Betsey’s government service.  Our colleagues at the University of Michigan have been tremendously supportive in re-organizing our teaching schedules, and the university has been terrific in granting both of us leave so that we can move our whole family to D.C.

I’m excited about our forthcoming adventure in D.C., and am looking forward to spending the next year as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.  It’s a great place to be productive, and my role there will be to continue to churn out research, even though I’ll have to make do without my usual coauthor.  I also plan to continue to comment on ongoing economic debates here at Freakonomics.com; in my columns; and on Twitter, and I’m planning to remain as independent a voice as I can, even if my better half disagrees.

The hardest part, of course, is uprooting our kids.  We only told 3-1/2 year old Matilda a few nights ago that she would be saying farewell to her Ann Arbor friends and her wonderful school. And baby Oliver, at only 8 months, has responded by making our lives more challenging: he started crawling for the first time upon hearing the news.  Wish us luck as we try to juggle all this!

You can read more in the Wall Street Journal here, and here is Valerie Jarrett‘s very nice piece on the White House blog.

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  1. Paul says:

    very cool, and congrats!

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  2. Kate says:

    Congratulations to Betsey and good luck to you both as you try to corral 2 kids under 4 into moving to another state (though it sounds like Oliver is setting out to see if he can beat you there by crawling).

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  3. Steve says:

    Among the other great ideas/results from Obama admin “economists”

    Cash for Clunkers
    GM Bailout
    Obamafones
    $17 trillion in debt and only God knows how much in unfunded liabilities
    worst labor participation rate since 1979
    record numbers of able-bodied Americans, on the dole, on unemployment, disability, foodstamps, and subsidized housing.

    I am happy for you for your DP’s new financial windfall. But not looking forward to the continued erosion of the $ our society, traditional values, constitutional rights, and our global standing from these limousine liberals who try and fail at debunking common economic sense.
    Good times, indeed.
    Honestly, what good does any Obama appointee do?

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