President Barack Obama on Friday appointed Yale Chief Investment Officer David Swensen to his Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
The board, headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, comprises business, labor and financial leaders who can offer an outside perspective on how the government can revive the economy. Obama signed an executive order establishing the team of advisers on Friday morning.
“I created this Board to enlist voices that come from beyond the echo chamber of Washington, D.C., and to ensure that no stone is unturned as we work to put people back to work and to get our economy moving,” the president said in prepared remarks released by the White House. “We will meet regularly so that I can hear different ideas and sharpen my own, and seek counsel that is candid and informed by the wider world.”
The board’s chief economist is Austan Goolsbee ’91 GRD ’91. In addition to Swensen, Obama’s other appointments included former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman William Donaldson, former Fed Vice Chairman Roger Ferguson, UBS Americas Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Wolf, General Electric Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt, Service Employees International Union Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger and Harvard economist Martin Feldstein.
Although Swensen’s is hardly a household name, he is widely celebrated in financial circles as the eminent investor who pioneered the shift to alternative assets. In the decade preceding 2008, he racked up a 16.3 percent annualized return, better than that of any other university in the country.
His role in advising the federal government began last fall with several conversations that brought Swensen to Washington, in which he advised top officials to change their policy of buying up troubled assets in favor of buying equity stakes in banks.
Swensen will continue to lead Yale’s Investments Office. His new role in Washington will not impede on his duties in New Haven, a Yale spokesman said Friday.
“Mr. Swensen can certainly make a strong contribution to economic recovery as a member of the advisory board while leading the Investments Office like no one else can,” the spokesman, Tom Conroy, wrote in an e-mail message. “He won’t miss a beat at Yale, that’s for sure.”