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White House economic adviser Sperling expected to exit soon

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In this Jan. 7, 2011, file photo, President Obama discusses the economy alongside National Economic Council head Gene Sperling in Landover, Md. (Reuters)

Another shake-up may be coming to President Obama's economic team, Fox Business Network has learned

Sources tell Fox that Gene Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council inside the White House, is telling people he may soon leave his post. Sperling has been one of the president's top economic advisers from the earliest days of the administration, previously serving as counselor to then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. 

These same sources say that high on the short-list of replacements is Jeffrey Zients, a businessman, and former acting director of the Office of Management and Budget. 

One top White House adviser told Fox that both the president and the business community think very highly of Zients and he would be a strong fit for the economic post. 

While Sperling is expected to leave the administration in the months ahead, people close to him stress the departure is not imminent. 

Friends note that Sperling's wife, Allison Abner, is a successful television writer who recently moved to Los Angeles full-time, and Sperling is expected to join her soon. Abner was a writer and story editor on the highly successful NBC television series "West Wing" created by Aaron Sorkin, where Sperling was also a writer and consultant after his days in the Clinton administration. 

A White House spokeswoman declined to comment on the speculation. 

Sperling's exit is widely expected to come soon as part of the normal turnover in the second term of any administration, and it would mean an almost complete shuffling of the president's economic team from the early days of his administration. 

Sperling replaced Larry Summers as head of the NEC in 2011. Summers is now a leading contender to be nominated by the president this fall as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. 

Alan Krueger, another key Obama and Geithner adviser, recently stepped down as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. He was replaced by longtime White House aide Jason Furman. 

Sperling is a long-time Democratic economic operative with close ties to former Clinton Treasury Secretary and current Citigroup executive Robert Rubin. 

Sperling served from 1993-1996 as deputy director of the National Economic Council while the Council was directed by Rubin. Sperling became national economic adviser to Clinton and director of the NEC from 1996 to 2000. 

Though Sperling has spent most of his career in government he has also earned income as an adviser to the big investment bank Goldman Sachs, and received speaking fees from various financial firms before he joined the Obama administration. 

Senior executives on Wall Street say if he leaves the administration, Sperling will likely take a private sector job. He didn't return numerous calls for comment. 

It is unclear what impact Sperling's departure will have on White House economic policy. The NEC was created during the Clinton years, and had considerable clout in formulating domestic economic policy. Past directors include Rubin, Lawrence Lindsey during the George W. Bush presidency, and Summers.

Charles Gasparino joined FOX Business Network (FBN) in February 2010 as Senior Correspondent.

Ed Henry currently serves as Fox News Channel's (FNC) chief White House correspondent. He joined the network in June 2011.