Council of Economics Chair Christina Romer has announced her departure from office amidst news of a steady unemployment rate of 9.5 percent and stagnant economic growth. After nineteen months in office, she plans on returning to her previous job as Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley. It has been said her departure is for personal reasons, her husband on leave from UC Berkeley and her son set to start high school in the fall. Romer has said she wanted her son to go to high school in the Bay area. Her resignation is set to take effect September 3rd.
As chair, Romer has been very matter-of-fact and honest about economic growth. Her tenure has been successful in providing a stimulus package that helped prevent an even worse recession, yet uneventful in preserving public sector jobs. Said Romer in an interview before announcing her departure, “This is unquestionably a balancing act. We have a serious budget problem. We’re all aware that we have to get the deficit under control as we return to full employment”. Previous administration to recessions have varied. While President Obama has set to anchor the United States into prosperity after the word recession since the Great Depression of the 1930’s, the previous administration’s responses were more vague and disinterested. In late December 2006, when it appeared that a recession was imminent, then-President Bush’s only response was to “shop more”. This of course was the same response to the recession following 9/11; because public spending stimulated the economy during the Regan administration, such a response is understandable. Of course, in a time of high unemployment, pay cuts and furloughs, such a response wouldn’t work as well today.
Romer doesn’t deserve the blame for the slow economic growth that has plagued the past year and a half. There is no singular person responsible, of course. To blame Romer is as effective an explanation as is still blaming the Bush administration. There are too many factors, too many solutions being proposed and too many people to work with to solve such a complicated issue. Not only do those in government have to work with economists to find viable solutions to both upstart the economy and prevent such a recession from happening again, they also have to contend with working with such solutions that will keep them in power during an all-too-important midterm election year.
Ezra Klein, “Wonkbook: Romer out; Voinovich questions tax cuts; Kagan confirmed; Delicious lobster”, the Washington Post
Tom Abate, “Unemployment rate holds steady at 9.5 percent”, SFgate.com
Conor Dougherty, “Q&A: Romer Reacts to GDP Data”, the Wall Street Journal
Lori Montgomery, “Christina Romer, chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, to resign”, the Washington Post
Amanda Terkel, “With Recession Looming, Bush tells America to ‘Go Shopping More'”, ThinkProgress.org
Jules Tygiel, “The Reagan Legacy / The decidedly contested success of Reaganomics”, SFGate.com