|26th Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers|
September 10, 2010 - August 5, 2011
Austan Dean Goolsbee
August 18, 1969
Waco, Texas, U.S.
|Education||Yale University (BA, MA)|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD)
Austan Dean Goolsbee (born August 18, 1969) is an American economist who is currently the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. Goolsbee formerly served as the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, was a member of the cabinet of President Barack Obama and an acting fill-in anchor for WGN-TV in Chicago.
Goolsbee served on the three-member Council of Economic Advisers 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 chair, replacing Christina Romer, who had left to return to a teaching position at the University of California at Berkeley. On June 6, 2011, he announced that he was departing the administration and returning to the University of Chicago. In 2013, he became a strategic partner at 32 Advisors, where he leads their Economic Intelligence practice.
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, Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a member of the Panel of Economic Advisors to the Congressional Budget Office. He served as Senior Economist to the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI).
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 focuses on human activity in natural settings to find economic explanations for how people behave.
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 Slate.com, 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.
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." The allegation was denied by Goolsbee, the Obama campaign, and the Canadian government. 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.
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. 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.
He also appeared in Daily Show segments on November 11, 2009, where he was interviewed by Josh Gad about whether the Cash for Clunkers program had ruined demolition derby and on March 17, 2009 where he said that executives at American International Group (AIG) deserved the "Nobel prize for evil" ) for their role in the 2008 financial crisis. 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.
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". 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. 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.
On June 6, 2011, Goolsbee announced that he would return to the University of Chicago, saying that the economy was "a million miles from where it started".  He was expected to play an informal role from Chicago in Obama's 2012 campaign.
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. He topped The New Yorker's list of the Ten Most Intriguing Political Personalities of 2010. Salon.com named him to its list of the 15 Sexiest Men of 2010. 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." Additionally, the National Forensic League recognized Goolsbee, a former national champion in extemporaneous speaking, as the 2011 Communicator of the Year.
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. They have a daughter and two sons.