By Elizabeth Hester
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Citigroup chief economist Lewis Alexander will leave the bank to join the Obama administration as a counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.
Alexander, who joined New York-based Citigroup in 1999, will "work on domestic financial issues," according to a memo to employees obtained by Bloomberg. Citigroup spokesman Daniel Noonan confirmed the contents of the memo.
Alexander joined Citigroup after working at the Federal Reserve, according to the memo. The Wall Street Journal, which reported the departure earlier, said Alexander will counsel Geithner as the department moves to hire more senior officials and eliminate a staffing shortage.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for Lewis," Andrew Pitt, Citigroup's head of research, said in the memo. "We wish him well in his new role."
Alexander did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Treasury spokesman Isaac Baker did not have an immediate comment. Don Hanna, a Citigroup deputy chief economist, will coordinate global research for the sector and report to Pitt, according to the memo.
Alexander said in December 2007 that the United States would probably avoid a recession in 2008 and that subprime losses would likely be contained.
"The distribution of those losses is relatively broad," Alexander said in a Bloomberg Television interview. "You are seeing relatively robust corporate performance around the world."
In February he said the economy is "still contracting at a substantial pace" and was "still in the midst of a very substantial correction."