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Who Is Brian Deese? What Is His Role at the NEC?

Brian Deese is the current director of the National Economic Council (NEC) under President Joe Biden. Because the director of the NEC is not a cabinet-level position, he did not need to be confirmed by the Senate.

Prior to his current position, Deese was global head of sustainable investing at BlackRock Inc. (BLK), a position he'd held since 2017.

Key Takeaways

  • Brian Deese serves as head of the President's National Economic Council (NEC).
  • Prior to this post, Deese served as a senior economic advisor to President Obama.
  • Deese came from the private sector where he led Blackrock's sustainable investments division.
Brian Deese

Investopedia / Bailey Mariner

Early Career and Education

Prior to serving at the White House, Deese worked at the Center for American Progress and at the Center for Global Development.

He received his Bachelor of Arts from Middlebury College and his J.D. from Yale Law School.

Deese temporarily abandoned his Yale law studies to work for the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2008.

Notable Accomplishments

Deese is responsible for the coordination of policymaking on both domestic and international economic issues. The NEC provides economic policy advice to the president, ensuring that policy decisions and programs are in line with the president's economic goals.

As head of BlackRock's sustainable investing division, Deese advised clients on how to achieve investment returns that meet environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria.

Immediately prior to joining BlackRock, Deese was a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. He served as a White House senior advisor to President Barack Obama from 2015 to 2017. Between 2009 and 2015, he held several positions at the White House, including special assistant for economic policy to President Obama following the 2008 financial crisis, deputy director of the NEC, and deputy director as well as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Deese played crucial roles in developing the bailout of the U.S. auto industry following the financial crisis as well as in negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement during the Obama administration.

Some environmental activists have criticized Deese's appointment due to his position as the world's largest asset manager. Critics say BlackRock and Deese have not done enough to diversify away from fossil fuels.

What Is the National Economic Council?

Established in 1993, the National Economic Council (NEC) advises the President on domestic and global economic policy.

Is the National Economic Council (NEC) the Same as the President's Council of Economic Advisors (CEA)?

No. The Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) was created by an act of Congress in 1946. The CEA is a small team of experts who advise the president on economic policy, serving as an in-house think tank. The National Economic Council (NEC) was created by executive order after President Clinton took office in 1993. Its purpose is to bring together a large group of agency and department heads to coordinate government-wide economic policy.

Has Brian Deese Authored Any Books?

Brian Deese co-authored the 2002 book Delivering on Debt Relief: From IMF Gold to a New Aid Architecture, which deals with the complicated and controversial subject of debt relief for the poorest countries of the world.

The Bottom Line

After a successful early career at Blackrock, Brian Deese shifted to economic policy, advising Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama before being appointed Director the National Economic Council under Joe Biden. In this role, Deese helps coordinate policy development for the White House on topics like taxes, regulation, housing policy, green energy, and the automotive industry.

Article Sources
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  1. The White House. "National Economic Council."

  2. LinkedIn. "Brian Deese."

  3. LinkedIn. "Brian Deese."

  4. Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures. "Brian Deese."

  5. New York Times. "Obama Advisor During Recession Is Given New Challenge: Climate Change."

  6. Federal Register. "National Economic Council."

  7. Harvard Kennedy School. "Former Senior Fellows."

  8. The Revolving Door Project. "Brian Deese's Policy Record Hurt the Most Vulnerable."

  9. Action Center on Race and the Economy. "Racial Justice Group Demands Biden Transition Team Rescind Consideration of Brian Deese for Economic Positions."

  10. The White House. "Council of Economic Advisors."

  11. Nancy Birdsall, John Williamson, and Brian Deese. "Delivering on Debt Relief: From IMF Gold to a New Aid Architecture." Institute for International Economics, 2002.