Google CEO And Obama Get Cracking On Economy
Economists and Wall Street types sent two clear messages this week in one simple statement: President-elect Obama needs to get his financial team working on the present crisis ASAP. The underlying message there is, obviously: Bush’s team is asses over elbows on this, and we can’t wait until January 20.
Sure enough, as the stock market plunges again upon news of jobless rates—6.5 percent—and “layoffs” become the latest buzzword in Silicon Valley instead of trendy mashed-up neologisms, Obama is meeting today with a 17-member panel dubbed his Economic Transition Team.
Taking his place among an elite braintrust with a combined net worth as startling as the lengths of their economic resumes, Google CEO Eric Schmidt almost seems like a token representative of the tech industry. Still, he’s a far cry from the blank stares of Bernanke and the glistening panic-and-bail-out forehead of Paulson.
And why not? He’s done pretty well managing Google, and at this point all suggestions—except for hiring more Bear Sterns masterminds—for the Fed are welcome. Schmidt’s presence on today’s panel is interesting in light of a resounding “hell no” from the Obama campaign trail as to whether he was throwing his hat in the political realm. At the time, people were more inclined to view him as a consideration for Obama’s Chief Technical Officer, a position for which Steve Ballmer (not on the panel) and Vint Cerf also have been considered.
The meeting may also be a final audition for Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury Secretary who oversaw the dotcom bust between 1999 and 2001, who’s being reconsidered for that position. But Summers is perhaps better known for his graceless exit from Harvard after suggesting girls just can’t do math. Presumably a certain level of sexism does not outweigh his renowned brilliance as an economist.
Summers’ presence on the panel is telling in that the presence of the other lead-contender for Treasury Secretary—New York Fed chief Tim Geithner—was not requested (or couldn’t make it) for this meeting. Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker is there, alongside the teleconferencing Warren Buffet, who apparently had more pressing issues preventing him from attending in person.
Here’s the complete list of the 17 people Obama has enlisted to save our economy.
David Bonior (former Congressman)
Warren Buffett (Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway)
Roel Campos (former SEC Commissioner)
William Daley (JP Morgan Chase; Former Commerce Secretary)
William Donaldson (Former SEC Chairman)
Roger Ferguson (CEO of TIAA-CREF and former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve)
Jennifer Granholm (Governor of Michigan)
Anne Mulcahy (CEO of Xerox)
Richard Parsons (Chairman of the Board, Time Warner)
Penny Pritzker (CEO, Classic Residence by Hyatt)
Robert Reich (University of California, Berkeley; Former Dept of Labor Secretary)
Robert Rubin (Chairman, Citigroup; former Treasury Secretary
Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google)
Lawrence Summers (Harvard University; Managing Director, D.E. Shaw; Former Treasury Secretary)
Laura Tyson (Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley; Former Chairman, National Economic Council; Former Chairman, President’s Council of Economic Advisors)
Antonio Villaraigosa (Mayor of Los Angeles)
Paul Volcker (Former Fed Chair)