Austan Goolsbee

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Austan Goolsbee
Austan Goolsbee official portrait 2.jpg
26th Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
In office
September 9, 2010 – August 5, 2011
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Christina Romer
Succeeded by Alan Krueger
Personal details
Born Austan Dean Goolsbee
(1969-08-18) August 18, 1969 (age 53)
Waco, Texas, U.S.
Political party Democratic Party
Alma mater Yale University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Austan Dean Goolsbee (born August 18, 1969) is an American economist and the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business.[1] Goolsbee formerly served as the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and was the youngest member of the cabinet of President Barack Obama.[2]

Goolsbee served on the three-member Council from the start of the Obama Administration. He advised President Obama during his 2004 U.S. Senate race and was senior economic policy adviser during the 2008 Obama Presidential Campaign. He took over in September 2010 as the Council's Chairman, replacing Christina Romer, who had left to return to a teaching position at the University of California at Berkeley.[3] On June 6, 2011, he announced that he was departing the administration and returning to the University of Chicago.[4]

Since January 2013 he has been a strategic partner at 32 Advisors.[5] He leads their Economic Intelligence practice.[6]

Early life and education

Goolsbee was born in Waco, Texas,[7] the son of Linda Catherine (née Dean) and Arthur Leon Goolsbee. He was raised primarily in Whittier, California.[8]

He graduated from Milton Academy and received both his B.A. summa cum laude and M.A. in economics from Yale University in 1991 and went on to receive his Ph.D. in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1995. He was an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow (2000–02) and Fulbright Scholar via the Fulbright Commission Belgium. (2006–07).

At Yale, Goolsbee was a member of the Yale Political Union, the improv comedy troupe Just Add Water, Skull and Bones, and the Yale Debate Association. He and debate partner David Gray won the American Parliamentary Debate Association National Debate Team of the Year competition in 1991 defeating Ted Cruz who, once Goolsbee graduated, would go on to win in 1992 with partner David Panton. He and partner Dahlia Lithwick were runners up for the award in 1990. As a high school student, Goolsbee won the national championship in International Extemporaneous Speaking (IX) in 1987.


Goolsbee has been a Research Fellow at the American Bar Foundation,[9] Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts,[10] and a member of the Panel of Economic Advisors to the Congressional Budget Office.[11] He served as Senior Economist to the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI).[12]

Goolsbee's academic research focuses on the Internet, the new economy, government policy, and taxes. He taught a class on economics and policy in the telecom, media and technology industries. He is known in political circles as a centrist and in academic circles as an empirical economist.[citation needed] He focuses on human activity in natural settings to find economic explanations for how people behave.[13]

Goolsbee was an award winning journalist while serving as an academic. Goolsbee is the former host of the television show History's Business on the History Channel. In April 2006, Goolsbee began writing for the Economic Scene column in The New York Times. This column was later moved to Sundays and renamed the Economic View. Prior to this, he wrote the "Dismal Science" column for, for which he won the 2006 Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism. He has published scores of papers in various peer-reviewed journals and books.[14]

Public service

Support of Barack Obama's campaigns

He has been Barack Obama's economic advisor since Obama's successful U.S. Senate campaign in Illinois. He advised Barack Obama in his 2004 Senate race and was the senior economic advisor to the 2008 Obama presidential campaign.[15][16]

At one point during the primary of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, Goolsbee was alleged to have told Canadian consular officials in Chicago that Obama's political position on the North American Free Trade Agreement was "more reflective of political maneuvering than policy."[17][18] The allegation was refuted by Goolsbee, the Obama campaign, and the Canadian government and subsequent press examination called the claim into question.[19] Goolsbee remained Obama's senior economic adviser through the rest of the primary and the general election including many television debates with John McCain's economic advisers.[citation needed]

Service in Obama administration

Goolsbee was nominated by Obama to serve on the Council of Economic Advisers on his first day in office. Goolsbee was confirmed by the Senate on March 10, 2009.[20] He concurrently served as chief economist at the Economic Recovery Advisory Board. He was designated chair of the Council on September 10, 2010 succeeding Christina Romer.[21]

In these capacities, Goolsbee has served as a media surrogate for the Obama Administration and his skill on television has been noted in the media.[22][23]

Goolsbee was interviewed by Jon Stewart on August 11, 2009;[24] February 1, 2010;[25] October 25, 2010; February 24, 2011; August 3, 2011; and September 6, 2012.

He also appeared in Daily Show segments on November 11, 2009,[26] where he was interviewed by Josh Gad about whether the Cash for Clunkers program had ruined demolition derby and on March 17, 2009[27] where he said that executives at AIG deserved the "Nobel prize for evil". Jon Stewart described him as "Eliot Ness meets Milton Friedman".

In 2009, he was voted the Funniest Celebrity in Washington. One practical joke was giving a dead fish to the departing White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who has been known to give dead fish to political opponents.[28]

On June 15, 2009, he appeared as a guest on The Colbert Report.

He made a second appearance on the Colbert Report on October 13, 2010, where he defended Obama's tax cut policies which would allow tax breaks to expire for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year. Goolsbee's main arguments were that 98% of Americans would still receive a tax break under the Obama proposal and that the country would have to borrow money to fund tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans if all tax breaks were extended. In November 2010, however, the House of Representatives swung to a Republican majority who threatened that they would not extend the expiring tax cuts on that 98% without extending the cuts for the wealthiest 2% as well, and in December Obama signed a compromise deal to extend the cuts for all.

In January 2011, Goolsbee expressed the administration's confidence that the U.S. debt limit would be raised, noting that rhetoric from some members of Congress, who suggested the routine increase should be opposed, "(appear) to reflect a deep misunderstanding of the consequences of default".[29][30] Goolsbee agreed with Tim Geithner and numerous conservative commentators "that the debt ceiling must be allowed to rise", commenting that "playing chicken" with a default of government liabilities could have a catastrophic impact on the U.S. economy.[31][32] He noted that the Obama administration sought to fuel economic growth during the continuing gradual recovery by "focusing on spurring investment and improving U.S. exports and innovation" but noted that "in the medium run, a series of tough choices" would need to be made and that the president's budget would indicate his willingness to make budget cuts a part of the long-term plan.[33]

On June 6, 2011, Goolsbee announced that he would return to the University of Chicago, claiming that the economy was "a million miles from where it started". [4] He was expected to play an informal role from Chicago in Obama's 2012 campaign.[34]


Over the years he has been named one of the 100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, one of the six "Gurus of the Future" by the Financial Times, one of the 40 Under 40 by Crain's Chicago Business, and one of the 30 Under 30 by the Chicago Sun-Times.[14] He topped The New Yorker's list of the Ten Most Intriguing Political Personalities of 2010.[35] named him to its list of the 15 Sexiest Men of 2010.[36] To this he remarked on NPR's quiz show 'Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me,' "I didn't even know Salon was printed in Braille."[37] Additionally, the National Forensic League recognized Goolsbee, a former national champion in extemporaneous speaking, as the 2011 Communicator of the Year.[38]

Press profiles of him include those done by the New York Times, NPR, George Will,[39] the Financial Times,[40] Reuters TV,[41] the Chicago Tribune, Crain's Chicago Business,[42] and Politico.[43]

Personal life

Goolsbee married Robin Winters on November 1, 1997. She was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company at the time and earlier the director of business development at MTV International.[44] They have a daughter and two sons.


  1. Austan Goolsbee
  2. Weisman, Jonathan (September 2010), "Goolsbee to Chair Council of Economic Advisers", Wall Street Journal<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Austan Goolsbee, Top Obama Economic Adviser, To Resign". Huffington Post. June 6, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Obama's top economist returning to classroom". CNN. June 7, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 32 Advisors team
  6. "Robert Wolf Said to Hire Goolsbee as Adviser for His Firm". The New York Times. January 16, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Births". The Alcalde. Emmis Communications. 58 (3): 45. November 1969. ISSN1535-993X. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Sibley, James Scarborough (1982). The Sibley family in America, 1629-1972: Volume 2. p. 1153.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Research Fellows - Austan Goolsbee American Bar Foundation
  10. Austan Goolsbee National Bureau of Economic Research
  11. Panel of Economic Advisers Congressional Budget Office
  12. DLC: Austan Goolsbee Democratic Leadership Council
  13. Greising, David (March 9, 2008), "Going to school on presidential politics", Chicago Tribune, retrieved October 26, 2010<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 Goolsbee's Curriculum Vitae
  15. The Advisers Are Writing Our Future David Leonhardt, New York Times, April 18, 2007.
  16. Seeking Clues to Obamanomics, Deborah Solomon, Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2007
  17. Luo, Michael (2008-03-04). "Memo Gives Canada's Account of Obama Campaign's Meeting on Nafta," New York Times, accessed April 4, 2011.
  18. Austen, Ian (2008-03-07). "Trade Pact Controversy in Democratic Race Reaches Into Canadian Parliament ," New York Times, accessed April 4, 2011.
  19. Did Clinton Win Ohio on a Lie? Paul Loeb, Huffington Post, March 6, 2008
  20. The White House. Nominations & Appointments, row 331, accessed April 4, 2011.
  21. The White House (10-09-10). "President Obama Appoints Austan Goolsbee as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers,", accessed April 4, 2011.
  22. Letters From Washington: On Message and On Everywhere New York Times, Albert Hunt, June 21, 2009
  23. Politico Ben Smith, March 30, 2009
  24. Austan Goolsbee interviewed by Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, August 11, 2009
  25. Austan Goolsbee interviewed by Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, February 1, 2010
  26. Crash for Clunkers, The Daily Show, November 11, 2009
  27. The Notorious AIG - Outrage, The Daily Show, March 17, 2009
  28. Knoller, Mark (October 1, 2010). "White House Staff Gives Rahm Emanuel Dead Fish as Parting Gift". CBS News. Retrieved 2010-10-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Debt cap to be raised, Obama adviser says - MarketWatch
  30. Montgomery, Lori (January 7, 2011). "Raise debt limit to avoid national catastrophe, Geithner warns Congress". The Washington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. "Government seen hitting debt limit in March or April". Reuters. January 5, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. First Read - Obama admin. confident Congress will raise debt ceiling
  33. "Goolsbee: Obama to Make 'Tough Choices' on Budget". The Wall Street Journal. January 2, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. Calmes, Jackie (June 6, 2011). "Austan Goolsbee to Leave Obama Team". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. Top Ten Most Intriguing Political Personalities of 2010 Ryan Lizza "The New Yorker", December 9, 2010
  36. Salon's Men on Top 2010, November 17, 2010
  39. "The Democratic Economist" George Will Washington Post, October 4, 2007
  40. "Green Youth and Academic Colours" Jeremy Grant, Financial Times, September 18, 2005
  41. Obama's Economic Alter Ego Reuters TV, February 1, 2008
  42. 40 under 40, 2006Chicago Business
  43. Goolsbee Sets Populist Tone Ben Smith, Politico, March 30, 2009
  44. WEDDINGS; Robin Winters and Austan Goolsbee New York Times, November 2, 1997

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Christina Romer
Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
Succeeded by
Alan Krueger