With US President Donald Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor, Gary Cohn, set to resign from the administration within the coming weeks, former General Motors Chief Financial Officer Christopher P. Liddell has become a frontrunner to fill the vacancy, sources have told The New York Times. Currently, Liddell serves in the White House as Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives, and as a member of the Office of American Innovation. He’s been working closely with Trump Senior Advisor Jared Kushner on modernizing and streamlining federal IT infrastructure.
Liddell, 59, made a sizable impact on GM despite having only served from December, 2009 to March, 2011, helping lead the automaker through its first full year of profitability after its 2009 reorganization. He was instrumental in overseeing GM’s successful, $23-billion Initial Public Offering – then the largest IPO in history – and stabilizing the company’s financial operations.
Prior to joining General Motors, Christopher Liddell was Chief Financial Officer of International Paper from 2003 to 2005, and of Microsoft from 2005 to 2009. Post-GM, he led Mitt Romney’s Presidential Transition Planning team in 2012, and became CFO of Hollywood talent agency William Morris Endeavor in 2014.
In Christopher Liddell, the Trump administration may have found a candidate for the Chief Economic Advisor position who is both an insider, and highly experienced in the business world. Importantly, he might be much more receptive than Cohn to Donald Trump’s plans to introduce steep tariffs on steel and aluminum.
“I worked in the private sector all my life, so I’m a believer in free markets, but not unbridled free markets,” Liddell told New Zealand news outlet Scoop in 2016. “And we’ve had 30 years since the mid-’80s, both in New Zealand and here in the U.S. and globally, of basically free markets being driving the whole thinking, the whole rhetoric around governing. I think those days are over, personally. I think we’re going to go through a circular trend of a much more restrained free market.”
Critics say that Christopher Liddell’s record, both within the Office of American Innovation and in helping select staffers during Donald Trump’s transition, is unsatisfactory, according to the Times.