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The Fed: Chicago Fed taps former top Obama economist Goolsbee at its new president

The board of directors of the Chicago Federal Reserve has named Austan Goolsbee as its new president, the regional Fed bank announced Thursday.

“Austan is an exceptional choice to be the next president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He is a highly accomplished economist with extensive policy experience and a strong commitment to public service. I am confident in his future success as a national policymaker and chief executive of the Chicago Fed,” said Dr. Helene Gayle, the president of Spelman College, who served as the chair of the Fed board’s search committee for president.  

Goolsbee replaces Charles Evans as the Chicago Fed president. Evans was a leading dove on the central bank’s leadership, in favor of holding down interest rates. He is best known for his plan for the Fed to hold policy steady until certain economic targets were met. The central bank adopted this “conditional” policy in 2012 as the economy was coming out of the Great Recession.

Goolsbee was an economic adviser to President Barack Obama when he ran for president and won in 2008. After the election, Goolsbee joined the White House team, eventually rising to run the president’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2010 until 2011.

Goolsbee, 53, is now a professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where he has been on the faculty for 28 years. He holds a Ph.D in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

He often appears on television discussing the economy and has been a regular guest on CNBC when the Labor Department releases its monthly unemployment report.

“I am both humbled and excited to serve the public in this role. These have been challenging, unprecedented times for the economy. The [Chicago Fed] has an important role to play in helping the District get through them and to thrive going forward,” Goolsbee said, in a prepared statement.

Goolsbee will take office in early January. He will hit the ground running as it will be his turn to be a voting member of the Fed’s interest rate committee in 2023. The Chicago Fed president and the Cleveland Fed president rotate each year as voting members on the Federal Open Market Committee.

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