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Farrell, Barr Leaving Obama Administration’s Economic Team

Farrell, Barr Leaving Obama Administration’s Economic Team
Diana Farrell, pictured here while Director of McKinsey Global Institute. Photographer: Jamie Rector/Bloomberg

Diana Farrell, deputy director of President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council, and Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr are leaving the administration, adding to the turnover in the ranks of the White House economic team that worked on the government’s response to the worst financial crisis in more than 70 years.

Farrell will leave by the end of the year and Barr’s last day at Treasury will be Dec. 3. Both played key roles in shaping Obama’s financial regulatory overhaul plan, which was signed into law in July.

“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve President Obama and the country,” Farrell said in a statement yesterday. “It was a privilege to work with such a fine group of people at the White House and across the administration.”

Farrell’s boss at the NEC, Lawrence Summers, announced in September that he would return at the end of the year to Harvard University.

Summers said Farrell “played a central role” in the administration’s efforts to respond to the housing crisis, restructure the auto industry and encourage economic growth.

“Her natural talent as a policy maker and her good judgment made her invaluable in setting a course for economic recovery,” Summers said in a statement.

‘Key Architect’

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner described Barr as “a key architect” of the financial regulatory overhaul legislation. “Our country is stronger, our financial system more stable, and our families better protected because of his work,” Geithner said.

Farrell did not indicate in her statement what she planned to do. Treasury spokesman Steve Adamske said Barr would continue his academic career at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Adamske also said yesterday that Matthew Kabaker, who heads the Office of Capital Markets and Housing Finance, is leaving as well. Kabaker, who helped devise the Treasury’s plan to spur banks to sell their toxic assets, is a former executive at Blackstone Group LP. He will be returning to New York, where his family lives, Adamske said.

Obama and his economic team have been battered by the slow economic recovery and an unemployment rate that has been at 9.5 percent or higher for more than a year. The economy was a top issue in the Nov. 2 midterm congressional elections in which Republicans won control of the House of Representatives and narrowed the Democratic majority in the Senate.

A New Team

Obama is remaking his economic team following other departures including Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Christina Romer, head of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Austan Goolsbee, Romer’s deputy, took over at the Council of Economic Advisers, and Jacob Lew, who headed the White House budget office during the Clinton administration, has been confirmed as Orszag’s successor.

Roger Altman, founder of Evercore Partners Inc. and a former deputy treasury secretary, is a leading candidate to succeed Summers.

Farrell, 45, is a former director of the McKinsey Global Institute, the economics research arm of McKinsey & Company. In naming her to the administration last year, Obama said she would focus on programs to “jump-start economic growth,” while promoting “the long-term investments in our economy necessary to save and create jobs, rebuild our infrastructure, and assure energy independence.”

She received her undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and a master’s degree from Harvard Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Barr, also 45 and a former law professor, pushed the administration’s case for the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul in the months before it was signed into law in July. He had been a candidate to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the law.

Before joining the administration, he was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and at the Brookings Institution in Washington. A former Rhodes Scholar, Barr received both his undergraduate degree and his law degree from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

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