Phill Swagel to Head CBO

That’s the news, according to Roll Call:

Senate and House budget leaders have chosen Phillip L. Swagel, a University of Maryland economist and former Treasury official in the George W. Bush administration, as the next director of the Congressional Budget Office, according to several sources with knowledge of the discussions.

Phill and I both served on the Clinton and GW Bush Council of Economic Advisers (2000-01) as senior economists, for trade and for international finance, respectively. Phill subsequently served as Assistant Secretary for Treasury in the lead-up to the financial crisis of 2008, as well as chief economist for CEA. Earlier, he served as a economist at the Fed and the IMF.

Phill appears in Econbrowser here:


Chinn and Swagel on Radio Times: “Economic News Roundup”

Phillip Swagel on the Financial Crisis


Why Do Economists Blog (Policy Edition) (II)?


Guest Contribution: “China’s Transition: Three Scenarios”

Livin’ in a Shapiro-Stiglitz World





29 thoughts on “Phill Swagel to Head CBO

  1. dwb

    Your text says “The Hill” but your link is rollcall

    I am really puzzled. Sounds like a totally establishment ordinary choice in an era when the Senate GOP is googly-eyed for Trump. Not even a supply-sider endlessly proselytizing for tax cuts.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      dwb: Sorry, have fixed Roll Call link. Thanks!

      When Republicans need somebody to count numbers w/o ideological blinkers, they get a serious person (not a flunkie like Stephen Moore or Herman Cain).

    1. Moses Herzog

      WOW…….. I am extremely sad to hear that. A CLASS CLASS lady and a true public servant of the old guard. This country is going to exceedingly miss her, whether they realize it or not.

      Did she ever get a congressional medal or something?? She had better damned well get it. There is no one who worked harder and in a more ethical fashion than that lady did for the betterment of this country–and that should be recognized. Maybe a couple federal buildings in her name?? Her contributions to this country are impossible to be exaggerated. These are the type individuals who should get infrastructure projects named for them, not some bastard like Dick Shelby passing pork barrel legislation.

    2. Moses Herzog

      I tried to round up the better ones, I’m sure there were other celebrity business names and politicians who said something, but I finally got tired of hunting and copying them. I am not Rivlin-like Superhuman you know. I didn’t find President Obama’s respects, I’m just assuming his is a little bit belated in the busy scurry of everyday life: <<——-Bill Clinton <<——Susan Rice <<—-Rivlin’s good natured humor <<—-the lady tweeting looks “strangely” familiar

  2. pgl

    “The CBO can thank Rivlin for this extraordinary power and influence.

    In his history of the agency, University of Maryland political scientist Philip Joyce writes that the CBO’s image as a highly credible, impartial arbiter is due in large part to Rivlin’s influence. The institution’s pretense to objectivity “would have been a hollow promise … were it not for leadership decisions made by the first director, Alice Rivlin, in the organization of the CBO.”

    First and foremost, as Andrew Prokop recounted in our CBO explainer, Rivlin decided the CBO would not “carry Congress’s water in its squabbles with the White House or openly advocate for certain bills.” It would not be beholden to the majority party in Congress, or committee chairs. It would act independently, evaluating the cost of bills as they came up for consideration and preparing independent economic projections.”

    Rivlin’s independence and integrity was something foreign to those fools who serve at the feet of Donald Trump.

  3. Barkley Rosser

    With the CBO’s capable founder, Alice Rivlin, dying yesterday at 88, it is good news that someone reasonably competent has been appointed to this position. Of course, Trump was not responsible for this decision.

  4. Not Trampis

    It appears he is a good choice. It is always a worry if a political hack is in charge of the OMB then the same people will attempt to do the same thing at the CBO which is much more i important

  5. Moses Herzog

    Medusa has no time to recognize the death of one of this country’s greatest public servants of the last century, a female. (btw, that century I am counting back that 100 from 2019) But Medusa does have time to mention people who toss coins into her treasure box.

    Medusa always had great interpersonal skills though, didn’t she?? At least with those who were happy to repeat back to her, her own opinions on things.

    Medusa had a magical way of connecting with her base. I still don’t understand why all the Obama voters didn’t rush out to vote for her??

    If Debbie Wasserman Schultz or anyone else on Wasserman’s old DNC staff can tell me the reason why Obama voters just didn’t feel like heading to the voting booth, get back to me, ok?? What a deep mystery…… Oh wait!!!!! it was rural white husbands that punched their rural white wives until they filled in “trump” on the ballot. I forgot. Intermittent amnesia got me again!!!!! damnit…….

    1. Barkley Rosser


      There you go again, Moses. Could you not just praise the excellent Alice Rivlin (whom I knew quite well, had her in to speak at my uni named for a slaveowner once and edited journal co-founded by her husband, Sid Winter) without deciding to harangue various other women you do not admire?

      1. Moses Herzog

        You mean YOU were wise enough to get Alice Rivlin to speak at your shamefully named Uni campus?!?!?!?!? Finally something you did I can applaud. So I’m assuming this is before your early stage dementia?? If you eat lots of homemade Lentil bean soup and other “superfood” Legumes you might still be able to do some good things for your students. I’m hopeful.

        1. Barkley Rosser

          No, Moses, I am a hopeless case. Completely over the hill and down the tubes, even though not retired. Not even lentil soup can save me.

  6. Moses Herzog

    Going through the old NYT papers that I pick up and then they collect dust somewhere strewn. I had no idea Milwaukee was going to be the location of the 2020 convention. That should be a big win for the local economy assuming they aren’t building some new facility especially for it. Let’s hope the strip clubs and escorts can up their game.

    1. Moses Herzog

      From Trip Gabriel’s writing in NYT:
      “In a Marquette poll in January, 49 percent of Wisconsin voters said they would definitely vote for someone other than Mr. Trump. Only 27 percent plan to definitely support the president, meaning his path to a second victory in the state is both uphill and narrow.”

      For the record this simple southern boy (who actually considers himself more midwestern) purchases all his cheese from Monroe, Wisconsin. Let those who understand digest that and others who don’t to not. May the Netherlands artisan cheese be with you. Especially if it is cheaper per ounce.

  7. Manfred

    Phillip Swagel has a PhD in Economics from Harvard and an undergrad degree in Econ from Princeton.
    Who knows, maybe this is not enough, for the august commentators in Econbrowser.
    On the other hand, he is a garden variety white man, so, don’t know if he qualifies.
    Because apparently, in this blog, that now matters.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Manfred: Wow, you are touchy. Nobody — least me — has said a bad thing about Dr. Swagel’s credentials and past comments. In fact, as far as I can tell, people are lauding his reasonableness.

    2. Willie

      I got the impression that Econbrowser comments were generally positive about Swagel and expressed surprise that the current administration and its enablers would propose a reasonable, observant, practical human. Meaning Swagel. Never mind his melanin content or plumbing configuration.

    3. 2slugbaits

      Manfred Who among those “august commentators” here has trashed the Swagel appointment? No one as far as I can tell. Of course, Trump didn’t have anything to do with choosing the head of the CBO, so that was all for the good. Still, even Trump showed that on occasion he could select qualified people. For example, while I don’t think Jerome Powell was the best choice as Fed head, he was still an okay choice. Trump could have done better (Janet Yellen), but he could have done much worse too. In this day and age I’ll settle for mere competence, and anything more than that is just gravy.

  8. dilbert dogbert

    Moses, I know that commenting here is a major source of pleasure for you. You do dominate the comments. I at times just scroll down to see if someone new has a comment.

    1. Moses Herzog

      @ dilbert dogbert
      I need to learn to write in 3 sentence comments with nothing substantive to them. It makes the blog more fun. Or maybe engage in quarrels with people of low IQ for threads that stretch on endless. If scrolling down is that hard for you, I suggest you fake quadriplegia and get a home nurse to scroll down for you.

      It’s funny, many of my comments take a different topic, or a different slant on the already posted topic for a different chain of thought. That is annoying for those with the IQ of a tennis ball. Barkley Junior is annoyed because I’ve shown he has his head in his own nether-regions half the time. Including not getting a reference to the blog host I could get a 10 year old to follow, or knowing the difference between distributions of data when it doesn’t fit his laughable argument, among others that should make any normal person grimace if they labelled themselves an “editor” of scholarly articles. I’ll tell you this much, these threads would get a lot shorter if you people could get the ratio to at least 50% on adding some content to the blog instead of latching on to others’ coattails.

      1. Barkley Rosser


        I goofed up on the reference to Menzie you made recently, thinking it was a reference to Richard Meese. Guilty as charged, and I agreed that I was immediately on having it pointed out.

        However, since you are at it again, on the matter of the distributions it is you who are completely wrong and have had it repeatedly shown that you were. But here you are yet again coming on like CoRev trying to convince people that indeed Trump’s tariffs were only a minor factor in the decline of soybean prices last year and this. In fact your argument was even worse than his, just plain out and out totally dead wrong, whereas he at least had some vague grounds to make his argument, albeit extremely weak. I am willing pretty much immediately to accept that I have made a mistake when it is (accurately) pointed out to me. It would add to your credit if you were also so willing, which, on occasion you are, but less frequently than you should be.

      2. Tio Juanito

        These threads would get a lot shorter if you would stop posting you endless drivel.

        I honestly don’t know my Menzie allows this blog to get filled up with sophomoric cut n’ pastes from you and others like you here.

        Mostly, I come here to read Menzie’s posts and 2 slugs comments. The vast majority of the rest is dumbed-down economic mumbo-jumbo.

        Please do the internet a favor and step away from the keyboard.

        tldr: lurk more, post less.

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