Alan Krueger is an excellent choice to head the President’s Council of Economic Advisors.
He’s an expert on job markets and he has an excellent, empiricist’s understanding of what measures could move the needle on unemployment. It’s actually unusual for a labor economist to head the CEA but with unemployment stuck around 9%, it’s an inspired choice.
Alan’s work has often focused on a theme I’ve tried to stress here: that it’s a mistake to form your beliefs on the impact of policies on economic theory alone (Alan would correctly say that my emphasis is “endogenous”–it relies on his work!). The theory is often misrepresented by partisans/advocates who use research the way a drunk uses a streetlight—more for support than illumination (Krugman was the first person I heard use that line, btw…). Or, it’s too simplistic to describe how complex creatures like the job market actually works…or, lately, doesn’t work.
Obviously, the larger question here is how hard policy makers will push for the implementation of solid ideas that could help get people back to work, and how far those ideas will get in air fractious political airspace. But that’s going to be less Alan’s bailiwick—I guarantee you he will be generating those ideas.