Obama names Internet commerce expert to new economic board

President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday announced the formation of an Economic Recovery Advisory Board, naming an economist with expertise in Internet policy as the board's staff director and chief economist.

The newly established economic advisory board will be expected to regularly brief Obama, Vice President-elect Joe Biden, and their economic team with independent, nonpartisan information and analysis that will help the administration formulate a plan for economic recovery. Obama named former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker as the board's chairman and Austan Goolsbee as staff director and chief economist of the board.

Goolsbee is an economics professor at the University of Chicago Business School whose research focuses on the Internet, the new economy, government policy, and taxes. In his new role, Goolsbee will act as the primary liaison between the economic advisory board and the Obama administration. Obama also announced he is nominating Goolsbee to be one of the three members of his Council of Economic Advisers.

While Goolsbee's experience is largely academic, he served for a year as a special consultant for Internet policy for the Justice Department's antitrust division. He advised Obama during his 2004 Senate race and served as an economic adviser to Obama during the presidential campaign. Goolsbee's profile on the University of Chicago Web site indicates he is scheduled to teach a course called "Economics and Policy in the Telecom, Media and Technology Industries" in the spring of 2009.

Obama said he plans to announce the remaining members of the economic advisory board in the coming weeks. He said his administration will seek out economic advice from "innovative thinkers who may not always subscribe to conventional wisdom," whether they come from the high tech or manufacturing sectors.

The board, which was modeled after President Eisenhower's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, will serve for a two-year term, after which Obama will decide whether it is still necessary.

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