Summers to Be Top White House Economic Adviser at NEC

By Lee Speigel

Nov 22, 2008 5:19pm

ABC News has learned that President-elect Obama has decided to name former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers the director of the National Economic Council, essentially the president’s senior economic adviser.

Part of the Executive Office of the President, the NEC was created for the purpose of advising the President on matters related to U.S. and global economic policy. The NEC has four functions, by executive order: ensuring that programs and policy decisions are consistent with the President’s economic goals, monitoring the implementation of the President’s economic policy agenda, coordinating policy-making for domestic and international economic issues, and coordinating economic policy advice for the President.

Summers was the 71st Secretary of the Treasury, serving from July 1999 until the end of the Clinton administration in January 2001, having previously served as undersecretary for international affairs and deputy secretary of the Treasury.  He also served as chief economist of the World Bank.

At the Treasury Department in the 1990s, Summers worked closely with Tim Geithner, the man Obama intends to nominate to be the next Secretary of the Treasury. The two are said to have an excellent working relationship.

After the Clinton administration, Summers took office as 27th president of Harvard University, where he had a stormy tenure, including comments that women might not be as inherently apt at engineering and math. Some feminist groups made it known that they might have issues with Summers being appointed to the office of Secretary of Treasury, which Obama had been considering. The job Obama is giving him is not one that necessitates confirmation by the Senate.

Previous directors of the NEC include Robert Rubin, Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Gene Sperling for President Bill Clinton and Lawrence Lindsey, Stephen Friedman, Allan Hubbard, and Keith Hennessey for President George W. Bush.

Some Democrats say that Obama and Summers have an understanding that when current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s term expires in 2010, Obama will name Summers to take his place.

- jpt

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