Vice President Kamala Harris, President Joe Biden, and Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury Janet Yellen in the Oval Office

National Treasures

Haas economists manage nation’s finances

Three Berkeley Haas economists are continuing the school’s long tradition of public service in Washington, D.C.: Assoc. Dean and Prof. Catherine Wolfram and Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse have joined Prof. Emeritus Janet Yellen, who serves as secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Prof. Emeritus Janet Yellen Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury
Prof. Emeritus Janet Yellen
Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury

Yellen, the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve, is now the first woman to serve as treasury secretary. She’s also the first person to have served in the nation’s three top economic roles, since she also chaired the President’s Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton administration. Haas economist and Distinguished Prof. Laura D’Andrea Tyson was the first woman to chair the Council of Economic Advisers.

Yellen is credited with shepherding the country out of the Great Recession when she led the Fed from 2014 to 2018 and will now serve as President Biden’s lead economic advisor as he confronts the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. She will also be instrumental in helping Biden reduce income inequality and initiate an economic recovery package focused on manufacturing and clean-energy jobs.

“Economics isn’t just something you find in a textbook,” Yellen wrote on Twitter after being sworn in. “It can be a potent tool to right past wrongs and improve people’s lives.”

Prof. Catherine Wolfram Deputy Assistant Secretary for Climate and Energy Economics
Prof. Catherine Wolfram
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Climate and Energy Economics

Yellen has also increased the department’s focus on fighting climate change. Wolfram, the Cora Jane Flood Professor of Business Administration, started March 1 in the position of deputy assistant secretary for climate and energy economics in the Office of Economic Policy. She is a world-renowned expert who has published extensively on climate and energy economics and led randomized controlled trials to evaluate energy programs in the U.S., Ghana, and Kenya.

“It’s fantastic that the Biden administration is paying so much attention to climate change,” says Wolfram. “It’s one thing to sit in your office and write about what policy makers should and shouldn’t do, but I’m really excited to be a part of those efforts.”

Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse Deputy Assistant Secretary of Capital Access
Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Capital Access

Morse, the Soloman P. Lee Chair in Business Ethics and a member of the Haas Finance Group, began in February as deputy assistant secretary of capital access in the Office of Domestic Finance, which develops policies and guidance for Treasury Department activities in the areas of financial institutions, federal debt finance, financial regulation, and capital markets.

Morse had spent much of the pandemic helping small businesses. She and Tyson developed an innovative loan program that uses public capital to attract private lenders and provide low-interest credit to the most vulnerable small businesses. It became the foundation of the state’s California Rebuilding Fund and a program in Berkeley.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to serve in the Biden Administration and to join the team at Treasury, serving the people of this great country,” says Morse.

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