As pundits produce unofficial lists of candidates to replace top White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers -- who will leave the White House to return to Harvard University by year's end -- potential successors are being measured by how they differ from him. It's an opportunity, many say, to change how the nation's economy policy is perceived.
Politico speculates that the replacement will be a female CEO. All of the current holders of the four top economic slots in the administration -- Office of Management and Budget director Jacob Lew (incoming), Treasury secretary Tim Geithner, Council of Economic Advisers chairman Austan Goolsbee and Summers himself -- are white males with little real world business experience, Politico notes. Given the scandal at Harvard that led to Summers stepping down as president, appointing a woman might seem like poetic justice.
On CNBC's "Squawk Box" Wednesday morning, Greg Valliere of think tank Potomac Research Group said business experience is the top priority. "Could they maybe get one person who's run a payroll, who's run a business? I'm not sure about the gender, but I think the profession, yeah, definitely, they've got to get someone who has business experience," he said.
As the Wall Street Journal notes, appointing a businessperson would help dispel notions that the White House is somehow anti-business.
Still, Reuters' Felix Salmon thinks PR isn't the most important factor in this decision. "The corporate-executive idea is a bit weird: of all the positions in the White House economic team, one would expect the NEC director to actually be an economist. And there aren't many economists who are also prominent corporate executives," he says. "I also very much doubt that the presence of a corporate executive in the White House would have any success at all in countering criticism that the administration is anti-business."