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Politics

FACTBOX: Who's who on Obama's economic team

(Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on Monday announced his choice of Timothy Geithner to be the next Treasury secretary, Lawrence Summers to head the National Economic Council and Christina Romer to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Following are thumbnail sketches of his picks:

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, FOR U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY

Timothy Geithner, 47, has been president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank since November 2003, a post that has put him at the heart of the battle to contain the credit crisis.

He was closely involved in the rescue of Citigroup Inc late on Sunday, as well as the bailout of Bear Stearns and American International Group, and the controversial decision to let Lehman Brothers go bankrupt in September. Panic quickened after that failure and the government was forced to pledge $700 billion of U.S. taxpayer money to backstop U.S. banks.

Geithner already has extensive experience at the Treasury, which he joined in 1988 and where he worked his way up to the influential post of under secretary for international affairs. He held this position from 1998 to 2001 under Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers.

After departing Treasury, Geithner worked at the International Monetary Fund, where he was the director of the Policy Development and Review Department from 2001-03. He has studied Japanese and Chinese language, and has lived in East Africa, India, Thailand, China and Japan.

Geithner has a Masters degree from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

The position requires Senate confirmation.

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LAWRENCE SUMMERS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL

Lawrence Summers, 53, an economics professor at Harvard University, served as Treasury secretary between 1999 and 2001. He has been picked to head the National Economic Council, a group that advises the president on policy and helps coordinate between different government departments and agencies. The position could give him enormous sway over policy.

Summers has a reputation for brilliance, as well as not suffering fools gladly, and Obama called him “one of the great economic minds of our time” during a news conference on Monday. “I will rely heavily on his advice as we navigate the uncharted waters of this crisis,” Obama said. Summers had been a key Obama economic adviser during the election campaign and some had thought he might get his old job back at Treasury.

Like Geithner, Summers is a time-tested crisis manager who gained experience helping direct the U.S. response to the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s as the No. 2 Treasury official under Secretary Robert Rubin. Time magazine put Summers, Rubin and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on its cover in 1999 as “The Committee to Save the World.”

Summers was president of Harvard between 2001 and 2006. He stepped down amid criticism for remarks about whether innate differences accounted for the fact that more men than women entered science and engineering courses.

He earned a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard in 1982 and taught both there and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was chief economist at the World Bank between 1991 and 1993.

The position does not require Senate confirmation.

Slideshow ( 4 images )

CHRISTINA ROMER, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS

Christina Romer, Obama’s pick to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers, is an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley and a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s business cycle dating committee, which is the arbiter of U.S. recessions.

Together with her husband, David Romer, she has written widely on the history of the U.S. economy, the causes of the Great Depression and the impact of fiscal policy.

The Romers published three papers this month alone analyzing U.S. tax policy and its fallout for the economy and government spending. Obama plans a major fiscal stimulus package to kick-start U.S. growth that he hopes will be enacted once he is inaugurated on January 20, 2009.

The three-member CEA acts as a policy think-tank within the White House and produces an annual economic report for Congress.

Romer got her Ph.D. at MIT in 1985 and taught at Princeton University before moving to Berkeley in 1988, where she has been a professor since 1993.

The position requires Senate confirmation.

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