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Obama appoints new chief of staff

President Barack Obama named JP Morgan Chase executive William Daley as his new White House chief of staff yesterday.

Announcing his decision at a White House ceremony, Mr Obama said he hoped Mr Daley – who was commerce secretary under former President Bill Clinton – would help energise the US economy. "He possesses a deep understanding of how jobs are created and how to grow our economy," Mr Obama said.

Mr Daley was not part of the White House inner circle, but – at a time when fixing the economy is Mr Obama's greatest challenge – the President needs a politically savvy businessman at the helm as he prepares for his re-election bid in 2012.

Mr Daley, whose appointment was welcomed by business leaders, was campaign manager for Al Gore in his 2000 presidential campaign. He was also was president of SBC Communications and more recently ran operations in the Midwest for JP Morgan Chase.

Mr Obama had been urged by some in his party to bring in fresh blood after the Democrats were routed in last November's congressional elections. He joked that Mr Daley has a "smidgen of awareness" of how the US political system works.