Austan Goolsbee

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Austan Goolsbee
Austan Goolsbee official portrait 2.jpg
26th Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
In office
September 10, 2010 – August 5, 2011
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byChristina Romer
Succeeded byAlan Krueger
Personal details
Austan Dean Goolsbee

(1969-08-18) August 18, 1969 (age 52)
Waco, Texas, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Robin Winters
(m. 1997)
EducationYale University (BA, MA)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD)

Austan Dean Goolsbee (born August 18, 1969) is an American economist and writer. He is the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business.[1] Goolsbee formerly served as the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, was a member of President Barack Obama's administration, and worked as an acting fill-in anchor for WGN-TV in Chicago.[2]

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.[3] On June 6, 2011, he announced that he was departing the administration and returning to the University of Chicago.[4] In 2013, he became a strategic partner at 32 Advisors,[5] where he leads their Economic Intelligence practice.[6]

In 2019, he endorsed Pete Buttigieg in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Goolsbee was born in Waco, Texas,[8] the son of Linda Catherine (née Dean) and the late Arthur Leon Goolsbee, a former executive of Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company.[9][10] He was raised primarily in Whittier, California.[11]

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).[12]


Goolsbee has been a Research Fellow at the American Bar Foundation,[13] Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts,[14] and a member of the Panel of Economic Advisors to the Congressional Budget Office.[15] He served as Senior Economist to the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI).[16]

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.[17]

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. He continues to serve as a columnist for it today. Prior to this, he wrote the "Dismal Science" column for, 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.[18]

Public service[edit]

Support of Barack Obama's campaigns[edit]

Goolsbee became Barack Obama's economic advisor for Obama's successful 2004 U.S. Senate campaign in Illinois. He was also the senior economic advisor to the 2008 Obama presidential campaign.[19][20]

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."[21][22] The allegation was denied by Goolsbee, the Obama campaign, and the Canadian government.[23] 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.[citation needed]

Service in Obama administration[edit]

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.[24] 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.[25]

In these capacities, Goolsbee served as a media surrogate for the Obama Administration and his skill on television was noted in the media.[26][27]

Goolsbee was interviewed by Jon Stewart for The Daily Show on August 11, 2009;[28] February 1, 2010;[29] October 25, 2010; February 24, 2011; August 3, 2011; and September 6, 2012.

He also appeared in Daily Show segments on November 11, 2009,[30] where he was interviewed by Josh Gad about whether the Cash for Clunkers program had ruined demolition derby and on March 17, 2009[31] 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.[32]

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".[33][34] 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.[35][36] 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.[37]

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". [4] He was expected to play an informal role from Chicago in Obama's 2012 campaign.[38]


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.[18] He topped The New Yorker's list of the Ten Most Intriguing Political Personalities of 2010.[39] named him to its list of the 15 Sexiest Men of 2010.[40] 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."[41] Additionally, the National Forensic League recognized Goolsbee, a former national champion in extemporaneous speaking, as the 2011 Communicator of the Year.[42]

Press profiles of him include those done by The New York Times, NPR, George Will,[43] the Financial Times,[44] Reuters TV,[45] the Chicago Tribune, Crain's Chicago Business,[46] and Politico.[47]

Personal life[edit]

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.[48] They have a daughter and two sons.


  1. ^ Austan Goolsbee Archived April 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Weisman, Jonathan (September 2010), "Goolsbee to Chair Council of Economic Advisers", The Wall Street Journal
  3. ^ "Austan Goolsbee, Top Obama Economic Adviser, To Resign". Huffington Post. June 6, 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Obama's top economist returning to classroom". CNN. June 7, 2011.
  5. ^ 32 Advisors team Archived August 20, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Robert Wolf Said to Hire Goolsbee as Adviser for His Firm". The New York Times. January 16, 2013.
  7. ^ Phillip, Abby (December 5, 2019). "Pete Buttigieg scores endorsements from former Obama officials". CNN. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  8. ^ "Births". The Alcalde. Emmis Communications. 58 (3): 45. November 1969. ISSN 1535-993X.
  9. ^ "Class of 1967". Texas Law: Alumni and Giving. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  10. ^ "Obituary of Arthur Leon Goolsbee, 1940-2021". Hamil Family Funeral Home. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  11. ^ Sibley, James Scarborough (1982). The Sibley family in America, 1629-1972: Volume 2. p. 1153.
  12. ^ "vitae.htm". Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  13. ^ Research Fellows - Austan Goolsbee American Bar Foundation
  14. ^ Austan Goolsbee National Bureau of Economic Research
  15. ^ Panel of Economic Advisers Congressional Budget Office
  16. ^ DLC: Austan Goolsbee Archived October 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Democratic Leadership Council
  17. ^ Greising, David (March 9, 2008), "Going to school on presidential politics", Chicago Tribune, retrieved October 26, 2010
  18. ^ a b Goolsbee's Curriculum Vitae Archived April 24, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ The Advisers Are Writing Our Future David Leonhardt, The New York Times, April 18, 2007.
  20. ^ Seeking Clues to Obamanomics, Deborah Solomon, The Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2007
  21. ^ Luo, Michael (March 4, 2008). "Memo Gives Canada's Account of Obama Campaign's Meeting on Nafta," The New York Times, accessed April 4, 2011.
  22. ^ Austen, Ian (March 7, 2008). "Trade Pact Controversy in Democratic Race Reaches Into Canadian Parliament ," The New York Times, accessed April 4, 2011.
  23. ^ Did Clinton Win Ohio on a Lie? Paul Loeb, Huffington Post, March 6, 2008
  24. ^ The White House. Nominations & Appointments, row 331, accessed April 4, 2011.
  25. ^ The White House (10-09-10). "President Obama Appoints Austan Goolsbee as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers,", accessed April 4, 2011.
  26. ^ Letters From Washington: On Message and On Everywhere The New York Times, Albert Hunt, June 21, 2009
  27. ^ Politico Ben Smith, March 30, 2009
  28. ^ Austan Goolsbee interviewed by Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, August 11, 2009
  29. ^ Austan Goolsbee interviewed by Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, February 1, 2010
  30. ^ Crash for Clunkers, The Daily Show, November 11, 2009,
  31. ^ The Notorious AIG - Outrage, The Daily Show, March 17, 2009
  32. ^ Knoller, Mark (October 1, 2010). "White House Staff Gives Rahm Emanuel Dead Fish as Parting Gift". CBS News. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  33. ^ Debt cap to be raised, Obama adviser says – MarketWatch
  34. ^ Montgomery, Lori (January 7, 2011). "Raise debt limit to avoid national catastrophe, Geithner warns Congress". The Washington Post.
  35. ^ "Government seen hitting debt limit in March or April". Reuters. January 5, 2011.
  36. ^ First Read – Obama admin. confident Congress will raise debt ceiling
  37. ^ "Goolsbee: Obama to Make 'Tough Choices' on Budget". The Wall Street Journal. January 2, 2011.
  38. ^ Calmes, Jackie (June 6, 2011). "Austan Goolsbee to Leave Obama Team". The New York Times.
  39. ^ Top Ten Most Intriguing Political Personalities of 2010 Ryan Lizza The New Yorker, December 9, 2010
  40. ^ "Salon's Men on Top 2010 Archived November 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, November 17, 2010
  41. ^
  42. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 14, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  43. ^ "The Democratic Economist" George Will The Washington Post, October 4, 2007
  44. ^ "Green Youth and Academic Colours" Jeremy Grant, Financial Times, September 18, 2005
  45. ^ Obama's Economic Alter Ego Reuters TV, February 1, 2008
  46. ^ 40 under 40, 2006Chicago Business
  47. ^ Goolsbee Sets Populist Tone Ben Smith, Politico, March 30, 2009
  48. ^ WEDDINGS; Robin Winters and Austan Goolsbee The New York Times, November 2, 1997

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
Succeeded by