Obama and Bush Economic Advisors Compared
Greg Mankiw, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors from 2003 to 2005, takes exception to Paul Krugman‘s assertion “Isn’t it amazing just how impressive the people being named to key positions in the Obama administration seem? Bye-bye hacks and cronies, hello people who actually know what they’re doing.” He points to the standard RePEc data, ranking citations of economics based on academic citations, and shows the rankings of Obama and Bush advisors:
11. Larry Summers
21. Greg Mankiw
35. Ben Bernanke
99. Eddie Lazear
132. Glenn Hubbard
249. Harvey Rosen
391. Christy Romer
653. Austan Goolsbee
Now, there are probably better measures available. None of them has won, as has Krugman, a Nobel Prize. Further, being an influential academic economist isn’t necessarily an indicator of being a competent policy advisor.
That said, he’s right that the “Bush appointed incompetents” meme is largely false. All eight of these people, even Goolsbee with his meager 653 (out of 18,000 plus) ranking, are highly respected economists with impressive credentials.
Presidents, of both parties, have access to the finest minds in the country and tend to appoint them to key posts. Bush appointed some people who weren’t up to snuff, such as Mike Brown at FEMA. Then again, so did Bill Clinton. Jocelyn Elders, anyone? Political backscratching, cronyism, and other factors sometimes lead to less than steller people landing important jobs. That seldom happens, though, in technical fields.