U.S. News

Obama Down Plays Hints of Economic Team Changes

By Tom Braithwaite, Financial Times

President Barack Obama stoked speculation Monday that he might be ready to make a change to his economics team, saying he had “not made any determinations about personnel.” However, the White House on Tuesday tried to downplay any changes.

In a question-and-answer session on CNBC on Monday, Mr Obama said that Larry Summers, his chief economic adviser, and Tim Geithner, Treasury secretary, “have done an outstanding job”.

He said: “This is tough, the work that they do. They’ve been at it for two years, and they’re going to have a whole range of decisions about family that will factor into this, as well.

“But the bottom line is...that we’re constantly thinking, ‘Is what we’re doing working as well as it could? Do we have other options and other alternatives that we can explore?’?”

Mr Geithner’s future, in particular, has been the subject of frequent speculation since he joined the Treasury from the New York Federal Reserve when Mr Obama took office last year.

If he were to leave now he would have held the position for the shortest time since Mr Summers served as Treasury secretary under the Bill Clinton administration and the shortest tenure outside a change of administration for almost 40 years.

However, late Tuesday, the White House issued a statement saying, "President Barack Obama is "enormously pleased" with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and economic adviser Larry Summers."