Page last updated at 18:01 GMT, Monday, 24 November 2008

Obama names his US Treasury team

Obama: "I've sought leaders who can offer sound judgment and fresh thinking"

President-elect Barack Obama has named his top economic advisers to oversee a huge economic stimulus package.

Timothy Geithner, the president of the New York Federal Reserve, will be the next US treasury secretary.

Lawrence Summers, himself a former treasury secretary, will become the new head of the White House's national economic council.

Christina Romer of the National Bureau of Economic Research will chair Mr Obama's Council of Economic Advisers.

At a press conference in Chicago, Mr Obama said he had sought leaders who could offer "fresh thinking".

"Even as we face great economic challenges, we know that great opportunity is at hand - if we act swiftly and boldly. That's the mission our economic team will take on," he said.

"We need a big stimulus package that will jolt the economy back into shape.

"I look forward to working closely with them in the months ahead. And that work starts today, because the truth is, we don't have a minute to waste," he said.

Offering a grim prediction, he added, "Most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year."

'Current crisis'

He said his priority for the US economy would be to create 2.5 million new jobs. Some observers say the economic stimulus package could eventually total $700bn.

Speaking of the challenges that lie ahead, Mr Obama said: "We are facing an economic crisis of historic proportions.

"Our financial markets are under stress. While we can't underestimate the challenges we face, we also can't underestimate our capacity to overcome them."

KEY ECONOMIC APPOINTMENTS

US Treasury secretary:
Timothy Geithner, president, New York Federal Reserve

Director, White House National Economic Council:
Lawrence Summers, former Treasury secretary

Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers:
Christina Romer, co-director, National Bureau of Economic Research


Speaking of his treasury secretary, Mr Obama said that having served in senior roles at Treasury, the IMF and the New York Federal Reserve, Timothy Geithner would offer, "an unparalleled understanding of our current economic crisis, in all of its depth, complexity and urgency".

Mr Geithner - who also serves as vice chairman of the interest rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee - was key to the bailouts of insurance giants AIG and Bear Stearns, and in the decision to let Lehman Brothers collapse.

Obama's top strategist David Axelrod said Mr Geithner was "intimately involved with the situation now in his role as president of New York Fed. By temperament and experience, he's the right man to lead the Treasury now."

Challenges

Lawrence Summers was President Bill Clinton's last Treasury secretary, and will now be director of the National Economic Council, which is tasked with co-ordinating the president's economic plans.

"Larry has earned a global reputation for being able to cut to the heart of the most complex and novel policy challenges," said Mr Obama.

Mr Summers has a reputation for blunt speaking. He resigned as president of Harvard University in 2006 after a series of run-ins with faculty and students, including his assertion that men may be innately better at mathematics and science than women.

Christina Romer, a co-director at the National Bureau of Economic Research, will chair Mr Obama's Council of Economic Advisers.

She is an expert on the impact of tax cuts on economic growth - a central plank of Mr Obama's programme to resuscitate the US economy - and has written extensively on the Great Depression in the 1930s.

The president-elect also announced the appointment of Melody Barnes as director of the Domestic Policy Council.

Mr Obama takes the oath of office on 20 January as the US's 44th president, and will confront economic difficulties as great as any since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

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