Romer ’81 will help decide Obama’s economic policy

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December 2, 2008

12:41 AM

President-elect Barack Obama appointed Christina D. Romer ’81 as Chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers on Nov. 24.

Romer, currently an economics professor at the University of California-Berkeley, advised Obama on economic policy issues during his presidential campaign. She is an expert in recessions, particularly the Great Depression, and specializes in research on economic growth, inflation, tax cuts and government spending, according to The New York Times.

Romer could not be reached by The Flat Hat for comment.

Economics professor Robert Archibald, who taught Romer as an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary, said Romer did not take the typical path toward becoming an economics major.

“Christina decided she liked economics, but had taken Principles of Economics as a sophomore and went abroad junior year,” Archibald said. “I taught her in summer school and was a member of her honors committee.”

Archibald said Romer struck him as extremely intelligent, and that she stood out among her peers,
especially during her senior year.

“She was extraordinarily bright, level-headed and very quick to laugh. Everyone liked her,” Archibald said.
“Where she set herself above other students was the research that went into her doctoral presentation.”

Archibald explained that her paper examined the notion that the government was responsible for the decrease in fluctuation rates of unemployment after World War II — an idea Romer challenged. She argued that the stable unemployment rates were because of the change in the way rates were measured. She tested this theory by replicating old techniques on new data and inferred that there may not actually have been more stability in the economy after all.

After she left the College, Romer received her doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she met her husband, David Romer, who is also an economist.

“She married her colleague in grad school, who was an equally distinguished economist,” Archibald said.
“They’re quite the high-powered couple. Their dinner conversations must be amazing.”

Economics professor Oliver Coibion took Introduction to Economics under Romer at UC-Berkeley and said she was very clear in her lessons and made economics seem easy and intuitive.

“She’s really good,” Coibion said. “It was an outstanding choice of Obama to appoint her to the Council of Economic Advisers.”

Romer was involved in some controversy earlier this year after Harvard University President Drew Faust vetoed a job offer extended to her by the university’s economics department. Her husband subsequently turned down a separate offer for a position at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

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