Larry Summers Is Not the Man Person for This Job

Larry Summers is reportedly the leading candidate to replace Ben Bernanke at the Fed, and this is terrible for a whole lot of reasons, as detailed by David Dayen for Salon.
Summers would get the nod over the previous favorite, Fed vice chair Janet Yellen, in part because top-level officials have stressed to the President that Yellen is somehow "not strong enough" for the job, and would subsequently lack the confidence of financial markets. This gender-coded whisper campaign against the woman who would become the first female Fed chair in history is in line with an undercurrent of sexism about the selection — and the fact that Summers has an unfortunate history on this, from infamous comments he made while President of Harvard University (alleging there exist "innate" scientific aptitude difficulties for women) just amplifies the potential problem for the White House with its liberal base.

But the gender issue, important as it is, may be more of a cover for what sources see as an ideological preference inside the White House for Summers over Yellen, one that could not only reverberate into catastrophe for the Administration politically, but may spell danger for millions of unemployed, under-employed and low-wage Americans, whose interests would again be held subservient to that of the financial system.

...Larry Summers has perhaps the worst track record of any major economic figure in America. And the Federal Reserve plays a key role, perhaps the primary role, in regulating banks. Led by point person Daniel Tarullo, the Fed has recently doubled leverage requirements for the largest financial institutions. It's hard not to see the Summers pick as designed to babysit Tarullo, and blunt any policies that come down hard on the banks. Tarullo and Summers are personally close, but Summers typically listens to his own set of sources on financial regulation – the ones in the very expensive suits – and this has had disastrous consequences for over 15 years.

...[Summers] failed upwards by taking a lead position on the Obama economic team, and the man responsible for much of the financial crisis would set to fix it. He predictably failed again. ...So on fiscal, debt relief and monetary terms, when the economy was reeling and everything counted, Summers missed on all three.
I recommended reading the whole thing.

Larry Summers shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the Federal Reserve on his professional track record alone. But he also shouldn't be allowed anywhere near any job in any administration which is ostensibly supportive of women, if that administration doesn't want to communicate to women that gender essentialist rhetoric used to demean us isn't a problem.

Of course, this president has already communicated that pretty clearly by giving Summers multiple jobs in the White House (where he marginalized female staffers) and by making a HA HA FUNNY JOKE about how Summers is a rank misogynist.

Larry Summers is terrible for the economy. He is also a terrible choice for an administration whose party is pretty obviously coasting on a reputation of being "pro-women" by simply not being as explicitly horrendously anti-woman as their opponents.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus