The temporary brain trust

If the new president looked a little, well, burdened on election night, chances are he's aging a couple of years in the six-hour span between the release of unemployment figures this morning and his first news conference as president-elect this afternoon.

6.5% unemployment in October — worst since early Clintontime.  Worse still were the revisions of the August and September numbers.  And as Karl Denninger noticed, the number of unemployed plus the number of people working part-time who'd like to work full-time now tops 11%.  (And who knows what the real figure would turn out to be once John Williams applies Carter-era standards to the numbers.)

As I write, the president-elect is meeting with his "Transition Economic Advisory Board," his temporary brain trust as it were.  The names on the panel are, well, interesting.  Some of the faces from I.O.U.S.A. are there.  But one has to wonder if the calls for fiscal prudence from the likes of Buffett, Rubin, and Volcker in the movie and book will be drowned out by calls for urgent Keynesian measures in the face of imminent economic meltdown.  Certainly the presence of two Michiganders on the panel — Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former House Democratic Whip David Bonior — suggests a big bailout for Detroit is in the works.

Still other names belong to the money-shuffling class who got us into this mess, or their enablers.

We dealt with Larry Summers yesterday.  Then there's one of Bush 43's SEC chairmen, William Donaldson.  He puts a bipartisan sheen on things, and ensures Skull and Bones participation on the panel to boot.  But more relevant here is that he was the SEC chairman who, at Hank Paulson's bidding in 2004, agreed to let the big investment banks jack up their leverage from 12-to-1 to 40-to-1.  And we know how well that worked out.  Penny Pritzker?  She was chairman at Superior Bank of Chicago, which lent subprime before subprime was cool.  She was on its board all the way up until Superior's collapse in 2001; the Pritzker family had to fork over a $460 million settlement to the government.

The full membership of the panel is listed below.  Job descriptions are those provided by Team Obama.  Any other revealing nuggets here?

-David Bonior (Member House of Representatives 1977-2003)

-Warren Buffett (Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway)-will participate via speakerphone

-Roel Campos (former SEC Commissioner)

-William Daley (Chairman of the Midwest, JP Morgan Chase; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Commerce, 1997-2000)

-William Donaldson (Former Chairman of the SEC 2003-2005)

-Roger Ferguson (President and CEO, TIAA-CREF and former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve)

-Jennifer Granholm (Governor, State of Michigan)

-Anne Mulcahy (Chairman and CEO, Xerox)

-Richard Parsons (Chairman of the Board, Time Warner)

-Penny Pritzker (CEO, Classic Residence by Hyatt)

-Robert Reich (University of California, Berkeley; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Labor, 1993-1997)

-Robert Rubin (Chairman and Director of the Executive Committee, Citigroup; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Treasury, 1995-1999)

-Eric Schmidt (Chairman and CEO, Google)

-Lawrence Summers (Harvard University; Managing Director, D.E. Shaw; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Treasury, 1999-2001)

-Laura Tyson (Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley; Former Chairman, National Economic Council, 1995-1996; Former Chairman, President’s Council of Economic Advisors, 1993-1995)

-Antonio Villaraigosa (Mayor, City of Los Angeles)

-Paul Volcker (Former Chairman, US Federal Reserve 1979-1987)