Thursday, June 2, 2011

Jeff’s Working at the White House

Jeff got offered a job as a staff economist at the Council of Economic Advisors at the White House! Here’s what Jeff has to say about it:

The council of economic advisors brings economists from top academic departments on a 1 (or sometimes 2) year rotation. There are 10 ‘senior economists’ who are mostly younger, untenured professors, and about 10 ‘staff economists’ who are mostly graduate students taking a year off of study at a top program as well. (I think there are probably very few people who get/take this job instead of finishing their dissertation, so don’t worry about that :) ). The economists are distributed among fields of economic expertise, so there is a ‘macro guy’, an ‘international finance guy’, a ‘labor guy’ etc. I guess the work environment is fairly fluid and project based, so if there are particular policy proposals that need evaluating or coming-up-with, the labor, tax, and macro guys might all work on the same project sometimes. We also fact-check (or fact put in) speeches, so when Obama talks about the economy, we bound what he can say. We participate in various inter-agency meetings when agencies are implementing policies with effects on various aspects of the economy, so changing the rules for student loan subsidies is a potential policy that I might work on.  We write the economic report of the president (available at : or on Kindle: as well as various other more minor reports on issues that the president cares about. We also answer various hypothetical questions for other groups within the executive office of the president. Another part of my job, more the how than the what, is that I will talk to a whole bunch of economists. It’s often the case that I might not be able to make a good guess at the state of economic knowledge on a given topic, but I can effectively identify a couple of economists who would. The plan is then to call them and ask what they think. I think this will be fun too.

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