June 16, 2019

Where Spider-Man and Captain America Intern: The White House Economic Team

Where Spider-Man and Captain America Intern: The White House Economic Team


WASHINGTON — The 2019 Economic Report of the President runs 705 pages and features chapters on “expanding labor force opportunities” and “ensuring a balanced financial regulatory landscape.” It also claims to be written by Batman.

For the second straight year, the group of economists that do regression analyses and forecast annual growth rates for President Trump has slipped a straight-out-of-Comic-Con Easter egg into its annual report. [Not nerdy enough to know what an Easter egg is? Read here.]

The list of Council of Economic Advisers interns on Page 624 of the report includes Steve Rogers (a.k.a. Captain America), Peter Parker (Spider-Man) and Bruce Wayne (Batman). There’s also Aunt May (Peter Parker’s guardian; apparently there are no anti-nepotism rules at the council), J. T. Hutt (a superfan abbreviation for Jabba the Hutt, the “Star Wars” gangster who hangs a frozen Han Solo on his wall), the actor John Cleese, Kathryn Janeway (a “Star Trek” captain) and someone called John Snow (more on him later).

The names stuck out because most Council of Economic Advisers interns are university students — depending on which movie or comic you prefer, Peter Parker is the only one on the list who fits that bill — and also, real human beings.

A former council economist, Martha Gimbel, who is now research director at Indeed, noticed the names and tweeted about them on Tuesday afternoon.

Last year’s list was pretty impressive, too, it turns out. The 2018 report included abbreviated references to a pair of famed “Star Trek” captains, James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard.

The White House says it’s all in good fun. The Council of Economic Advisers’ official Twitter account said late Tuesday that the list was an effort to call attention to its intern “super heroes,” who made “significant contributions” to the economic report.

It’s worth noting that Jabba the Hutt is not, in fact, a superhero — he enslaved Princess Leia and tried to feed Han Solo and Luke Skywalker to a slow-digesting pit monster in the desert. Also, who is this “John Snow” they speak of? Is he the former Treasury secretary under President George W. Bush? An actual intern? Or did the council, in a blow to its nerd cred, misspell the name of the “Game of Thrones” hero Jon Snow?

The New York Times asked a council spokeswoman to clarify. “Have a sense of humor!” she replied.

Funny, that’s what people usually say to economists.



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