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Economic Advisors to the President

University of Chicago economists have a reputation for being outspoken, libertarian, and conservative. My good friend and Chicago colleague Austan Goolsbee, who has been advising Barack Obama on economic policy since his Senate campaign, is only the first of these.

There is an article about economists advising presidential candidates that features Goolsbee in today’s New York Times. My guess is that this story exaggerates the influence of these economists on eventual policy outcomes. I may just be a skeptic when it comes to influence, though. I believe, for instance, that the Chairman of the Federal Reserve has a much smaller impact on the economy than most lay people believe.

Prior to Goolsbee’s new fame as an advisor to presidential candidates, I would have to rank his most impressive accomplishment as winning the M.I.T. economics department fantasy baseball championship two years in a row. What makes it so impressive is that I was his co-owner, and in 15 years of playing fantasy baseball without him as a co-owner, I have never even come close to winning.