14. Larry Summers
for being the brains behind Obama's economic policy.
chief white house economics advisor | Washington
The famously combative Summers is, put simply, one of his generation's finest economists, if not the very best. And over the past year he has managed to put his ego aside to work with Obama and Timothy Geithner in easing the world out of crisis.
Well before the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Summers -- accused by some of being an architect of the bubble with his advocacy of light banking regulations and low interest rates -- had been warning about impending dire macroeconomic trouble, starting with the housing and financial markets. His prescience led to his White House job as the behind-the-scenes arbitrator in the midst of the global crisis. He drove the debate over the size of the stimulus, arguing forcefully for a 10-digit bill (which ended up 15 percent lower). He has also taken a strong and surprising lead on housing policy, climate change, health-care reform, and the automaker bankruptcies, helping tailor White House proposals for maximum job creation. By his account, he has helped walk the U.S. economy "some substantial distance back from the abyss."