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ABF's Austan Goolsbee Appointed Chief Economist to Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board

November 26, 2008, Press releases

CHICAGO -  NOVEMBER 26, 2008 – American Bar Foundation Research Professor Austan Goolsbee has been tapped by President-elect Barack Obama to become Staff Director and Chief Economist on the newly created Economic Recovery Advisory Board, and will also assume a position on the Council of Economic Advisers.  Goolsbee holds a joint appointment as a Research Professor with the American Bar Foundation and the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business as the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics.  Goolsbee began his association with the President-elect as an economic adviser to Obama’s 2004 Senate campaign, and has been a senior economic adviser to the campaign throughout the 2008 presidential race and transition.

In a press conference announcing the appointment, the President-elect called Goolsbee  “one of America’s most promising economic minds, known for his path-breaking work on tax policy and industrial organization,” and added that Goolsbee is “about as fresh a face (in Washington) as you can get.”

Goolsbee has been an ABF research professor since 1996, and received his Ph.D. in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  His high-profile career to date includes service on the Panel of Economic Advisers to the Congressional Budget Office, and as a Special Consultant for Internet Policy for the U.S. Justice Department, Antitrust Division. He was named one of the 100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow at the Switzerland 2001 World Economics Forum.  He has recently been a columnist for Slate Magazine and the New York Times, and has often been the public voice of the Obama campaign and transition team on economic matters, particularly in recent weeks as the economic crisis has unfolded.

Goolsbee’s research projects for the American Bar Foundation have focused on the impact of public policy on the economy, particularly tax policy and policies affecting the Internet and the information economy.  Goolsbee’s work is driven by empirical data analysis, and his most recent ABF project uses data from the U.S. Census about the characteristics of entrepreneurs and small business owners; the project examines how and to what extent tax policy may influence their decision-making.

Goolsbee’s research interest on the impact of the Internet was highly influential in the Obama campaign. In a recent profile by the Chicago Sun-Times, Goolsbee summed up the essence of his ideas on technology in helping to form the economic platform: “The role of technology (in Obama’s policy platforms) comes out of the role of the Internet, allowing people to gather information about prices, about competitors and making industries more competitive to the benefit of consumers.”  He added, “That ethos underlies the idea that we can count on the spread of information to improve the function of government."

Robert L. Nelson, the Director of the American Bar Foundation, issued this statement on the announcement of Goolsbee’s appointment: “We are extremely proud of Austan and congratulate him on this high appointment. His work exemplifies the importance of independent, empirical research for which the ABF stands, and the far-reaching impact it can have on national policy, to the benefit of all.”

 The American Bar Foundation is the nation’s leading research institute for the empirical study of law.  An independent, nonprofit organization, for more than fifty years the ABF has advanced the understanding and improvement of law through research projects of unmatched scale and quality on the most pressing issues facing the legal system in the United States and the world.

Lucinda Underwood/Communications

The American Bar Foundation
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