Obama Uses Nobel Award to Push for Action on Federal Reserve Nominee

Posted October 11, 2010 at 2:07pm

Updated: 3:18 p.m.

President Barack Obama congratulated his Federal Reserve Board nominee for winning the Nobel economics prize Monday and used the occasion to call for action on the stalled nomination.

Peter Diamond, along with American Dale Mortensen and British-Cypriot Christopher Pissarides, was awarded the 2010 prize for their analysis of markets with search frictions, or inefficiencies that keep buyers and sellers from making immediate contact, according to a statement by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the economics Nobel.

Their work helps show the ways that regulation and economic policy affect unemployment, job vacancies and wages. It can also be applied to areas other than the labor market, such as the housing market, the academy’s statement said.

Obama congratulated Diamond and Mortensen in a statement Monday for winning “for their groundbreaking economic research that has applications in a wide range of areas, like unemployment and housing, where we need our best and brightest minds.”

The president’s statement also served as a reminder that Diamond’s nomination to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors is pending. “I hope he will be confirmed by the Senate as quickly as possible,” Obama said. Diamond is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Senate Banking Committee approved the nomination in July over Republican objections, but the Senate returned it to the White House as Senators left Washington in August for recess. The White House sent the nomination back in September.

Banking ranking member Richard Shelby said at the time of the committee vote that Diamond did not have the right experience for the job, Reuters reported. “I do not believe the current environment of uncertainty would benefit from monetary policy decisions made by board members who are learning on the job,” the Alabama Republican said.

The prize appeared not to affect Shelby’s opinion. “While the Nobel Prize for Economics is a significant recognition, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences does not determine who is qualified to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System,” he said in a statement Monday.