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TheStreet Open House

Obama's Economists Need to Be Near Perfect

Summers' Return

Larry Summers is no stranger to Washington, having served as Treasury secretary during the Clinton administration and chief economist of the World Bank before that. Summer became president of Harvard University after serving under President Clinton, but resigned from the post in 2006 after several controversial statements, including one that males perform better in science and engineering than women.

Before being selected to director of the National Economic Council, Summers had been rumored to be a candidate for the Treasury secretary spot. But while Obama has based his entire presidential campaign on the idea of change, some observers are befuddled by his decision to hire Summers into a top economic position.

"Unfortunately, Summers has been much-maligned as the president of Harvard," Williams said. "But he knows Washington pretty well. He's a bit long in the tooth, and I'm not sure he's the most creative thinker to use new approaches, but that's where Geithner comes in."

Volcker Is No Nonsense

Many Wall Street observers cheered Obama's pick of Paul Volcker for chairman of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board. The former Fed chairman made the very difficult decision to raise interest rates in the early 1980s, which received considerable criticism despite the fact that it ultimately helped tame inflation in the U.S. It's no surprise that with the country facing significant decisions, Obama wants Volcker's expertise.

"Volcker brings a lot of experience and credibility to Obama's team and financial markets," said LaVorgna. "He brings an incredible amount of experience, knowledge and credibility. Perhaps his role will be selling whatever the administration chooses to do with helping the financial sector."

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