Christina Romer, a Berkeley economics professor, is reportedly leaving the White House as chair of President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, according to the NationalJournal.com, which cites an anonymous source. Is she taking the blame for policies hatched by director of the National Economic Council, Larry Summers -- policies that she disagrees with?
A source told NationalJournal: "She has been frustrated. She doesn't feel that she has a direct line to the President. She would be giving different advice than Larry Summers who does have a direct line to the President."
Romer could be the fall guy for the White House's forecast that unemployment would stay below 8% -- jobless rates blew through the projection to peak at 10.2% in October 2009 and now sit at 9.5%. Whether Romer is responsible for this forecast or not, her resignation would signal that she has taken the blame.
The NationalJournal quotes Bert Ely, a banking consultant: "You have to wonder why Summers isn't the one that should be taking the fall. But Larry is a pretty good bureaucratic infighter."
Far From a Fix
With a Labor Department jobs report coming out tomorrow -- experts predict a loss of 87,000 nonfarm payroll jobs for July 2010 and a boost to 9.6% in the unemployment rate -- the rumor of Romer's resignation could signal that tomorrow's numbers are going to be worse than expected. Regardless, Romer's departure will likely not go far enough to fix the policies that have been keeping the jobless rate so high.
Given Summers' direct line to the President, it's doubtful that Romer's departure will unleash a dramatic improvement in the administration's job-creation strategy.
Is Christina Romer Out as Chief Economic Adviser?