Obama loses his chief economic adviser

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For the second time in less than a year, Barack Obama is hunting for a new chief economic adviser, after the man he appointed last September said he wanted to quit.

Professor Austan Goolsbee's decision comes as a poll yesterday rated the President's handling of the economy at a record low, and suggested that the he would run neck and neck with the Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, a private equity millionaire, in a presidential match-up next year.

Mr Goolsbee, 41, has been at Mr Obama's side since the 2004 Senate campaign that launched him to national fame, and is the youngest member of the president's cabinet. He leaves his post as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers to return to academia.

Yesterday the President said of Mr Goolsbee: "He has helped steer our country out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and although there is still much work ahead, his insights and counsel have helped lead us toward an economy that is growing and creating millions of jobs."

The turnover of the White House economic staff has been a notable feature of the Obama administration, as it has struggled to deal with the effects of the financial crisis and a recession that has left unemployment at more than 9 per cent.

The Democrat heavyweight Larry Summers, President Obama's first economics chief, went back to his post at Harvard before last year's mid-term elections without being directly replaced, and the former head of the Council of Economic Advisers, Christine Romer, also went back to academia. Only Tim Geithner, the Treasury Secretary, looks likely to serve the full presidential term.