Obama, who has been criticized for stacking his economic team with proteges of Robert Rubin, the former Clinton Treasury Secretary and former Citigroup chairman considered by many to be partially responsible for fueling Wall Street's obsession with risky investments, even joked about it during a recent New York Times magazine interview.
When columnist David Leonhardt noted that Obama has a "spectrum of Democrats" within his economic policy team, Obama laughed:
"But I don't have Paul Krugman or Joseph Stiglitz."
Later, the president expressed his "enormous respect" for Stiglitz, adding that "I actually am looking forward to having these folks in for ongoing discussion."
On April 27, Obama invited Krugman and Stiglitz to the White House for a roast-beef dinner and to get their input on the financial crisis, reports Newsweek:
Mindful of his predecessor, Barack Obama seems to be trying harder to make sure he hears all sides. On the night of April 27, for instance, the president invited to the White House some of his administration's sharpest critics on the economy, including New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz. Over a roast-beef dinner, Obama listened and questioned while Krugman and Stiglitz, both Nobel Prize winners, pushed for more aggressive government intervention in the banking system."
Oh, to be a fly on the wall at that dinner! Ever since, some economic bloggers have been wondering what was actually discussed that night.
Salon's Andrew Leonard wrote:
Not even a whisper of this momentous news made it into Paul Krugman's blog, which seems to me to represent a misuse of the medium. I'm sure the conversation was designated off-the-record, which makes it understandable why we have no blow-by-blow from Krugman, but still: I promise all HTWW readers that if I ever have dinner with the president, I will at least mention it in this blog. What else are blogs for if not to tell people about your cool dinner dates?
Today, Krugman replied with a simple response: None of your business.
Andrew Leonard and Calculated Risk want to know why I didn't blog about dinner at the White House. Um, because the conversation was off the record. [emphasis added]