The job title sounds weighty, but, in truth, the chairman of this council has traditionally been a lightweight in economic-policy debates, getting eclipsed by the Treasury Department, the Office of Management and Budget, and the National Economic Council. But Furman, 42, will likely change that dynamic. Trained at Harvard, where he got both his undergraduate degree and his doctorate, he has had much less impact as an academic economist—the usual CEA résumé—than as an experienced policy wonk deeply involved in the Obama administration's first-term policies, beginning with the 2009 stimulus. So he's expected to retain his powerful voice, possibly even somewhat amplified by his new position. Furman has "been influencing White House policy for a while, but now his influence will be more direct and more broad as well," says Jared Bernstein, Vice President Biden's former chief economist. Furman, who was raised in New York City, has enjoyed eclectic mentoring, working both with liberal economist Joseph Stiglitz and with former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin during the Clinton administration. His economic views reflect that experience, as does his close relationship with his friend and former boss, Gene Sperling, head of the National Economic Council, whom Furman served as deputy. Furman is both a "cyclical dove" and a "structural hawk," Bernstein says. "He was very much within the Keynesian camp … around the need for an ample stimulus, but he recognized that it would need to be temporary."
DON'T MISS TODAY'S TOP STORIES