Democratic sources say President-elect Barack Obama will name former University President Lawrence H. Summers director of the National Economic Council essentially the presidents senior economic adviser according to news reports this weekend.
Once a top contender to be Obamas Treasury secretary, Summers, who led the Treasury under President Clinton from 1999 to 2001, will be advising the president on both domestic and foreign economic policy. He will likely be working closely with Obamas nominee for Treasury secretary, Federal Bank of New York President Timothy F. Geithner, who reportedly maintains an excellent relationship with Summers.
The position is considered to be a stepping stone to the Federal Reserve chairmanship, which is currently held by Ben S. Bernanke 75.
Richard Zeckhauser, Summers close friend and colleague at the Harvard Kennedy School, said that when Bernankes term expires in 2010, Obama will likely name Summers to take his place. Id be surprised if he werent seriously considered for it, Zeckhauser said, adding that Summers could also end up in a senior position at the World Bank, where he served as chief economist in the early 1990s.
The selection has created little stir among the liberal groups that had expressed strong opposition to Summers possible appointment as Treasury secretary. The National Organization for Women and other womens groups, for example, had issued sharply-worded statements of protest earlier this month, harking back to Summers turbulent tenure as Harvards president.
Ive heard nothing negative that doesnt mean that people havent said negative things, Zeckhauser said. But public discussion has been overwhelmingly positive and that sort of suggests that the nation is in a difficult situation and we need the best person we can get.