Obama's Hiring, Seeks Good Negotiator and Finance Wonk

Above all, the president will need advisers who can handle delicate congressional negotiations.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, left, and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, right, might be sent packing.
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Whoever holds the seat will have a heavy workload: presumably, the new head would work to continue current stimulative monetary policies, but would also eventually have to wind them down. Undoing unprecedented moves like the three recent rounds of quantitative easing will take a very skilled, very careful monetary policy expert "with the skills of a bomb defuser," says Adams.

"To me it seems like somebody who understands in great detail how the monetary system works and how the banking system works and how the money flows in and out of the system," he continues. "It's a technician's job, rather than a bully pulpit."

[READ: How Ben Bernanke Helped Obama Win]

One person with that expertise is already on the Fed's Board of Governors: Vice Chair Janet Yellen. The former UC-Berkeley economics professor is often mentioned as a potential pick. She has plenty of experience: she served on the board in the 1990s and then returned in 2010.

However, there are plenty of other monetary policy wonks to pick from, including former Federal Reserve heavy hitters. The Wall Street Journal has named Princeton economics professor Alan Blinder and Brookings scholar Donald Kohn among the contenders. Both are former Vice Chairmen of the Fed's Board of Governors. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers has also been mentioned as a contender, but he may prove too controversial a pick. As president of Harvard University, Summers famously remarked upon women's under-representation in science and engineering, remarks that many considered sexist. As Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, he was also a proponent of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed financial regulations in the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act. Many economic experts have claimed that these repeals contributed to the recent financial crisis.

The parlor game of picking the president's advisors before they're picked will continue for two more months. But while these predictions are mere cocktail chatter in Washington, the people on the shortlist should steel themselves for up to four tough years of nurturing a fragile economy (without breaking the bank).

Danielle Kurtzleben is a business and economics reporter for U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter @titonka or via E-mail at dkurtzleben@usnews.com.