Lawrence Summers

Lawrence Henry Summers (born November 30, 1954) is an American economist, former Vice President of Development Economics and Chief Economist of the World Bank (1991–93),[1][2][3] senior U.S. Treasury Department official throughout President Clinton's administration (ultimately Treasury Secretary, 1999–2001),[2][3][4] and former director of the National Economic Council for President Obama (2009–2010).[2][3] He is a former president of Harvard University (2001–2006),[3][5] where he is currently (as of March, 2017) a professor and director of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.[3][6][7]

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Summers became a professor of economics at Harvard University in 1983. He left Harvard in 1991, working as the Chief Economist at the World Bank from 1991 to 1993. In 1993, Summers was appointed Undersecretary for International Affairs of the United States Department of the Treasury under the Clinton Administration. In 1995, he was promoted to Deputy Secretary of the Treasury under his long-time political mentor Robert Rubin. In 1999, he succeeded Rubin as Secretary of the Treasury. While working for the Clinton administration Summers played a leading role in the American response to the 1994 economic crisis in Mexico, the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and the Russian financial crisis. He was also influential in the Harvard Institute for International Development and American-advised privatization of the economies of the post-Soviet states, and in the deregulation of the U.S financial system, including the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.

Following the end of Clinton's term, Summers served as the 27th President of Harvard University from 2001 to 2006. Summers resigned as Harvard's president in the wake of a no-confidence vote by Harvard faculty, which resulted in large part from Summers's conflict with Cornel West, financial conflict of interest questions regarding his relationship with Andrei Shleifer, and a 2005 speech in which he suggested that the under-representation of women in science and engineering could be due to a "different availability of aptitude at the high end", and less to patterns of discrimination and socialization. Remarking upon political correctness in institutions of higher education, Summers said in 2016:

There is a great deal of absurd political correctness. Now, I'm somebody who believes very strongly in diversity, who resists racism in all of its many incarnations, who thinks that there is a great deal that's unjust in American society that needs to be combated, but it seems to be that there is a kind of creeping totalitarianism in terms of what kind of ideas are acceptable and are debatable on college campuses.[8]

After his departure from Harvard, Summers worked as a managing partner at the hedge fund D. E. Shaw & Co., and as a freelance speaker at other financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers. Summers rejoined public service during the Obama administration, serving as the Director of the White House United States National Economic Council for President Barack Obama from January 2009 until November 2010, where he emerged as a key economic decision-maker in the Obama administration's response to the Great Recession. After his departure from the NEC in December 2010, Summers has worked in the private sector and as a columnist in major newspapers. In mid-2013, his name was widely floated as the potential successor to Ben Bernanke as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, though Obama eventually nominated Federal Reserve Vice-Chairwoman Janet Yellen for the position. As of 2017, Summers retains his Harvard University status as former president emeritus and Charles W. Eliot University Professor.

Lawrence Summers
Lawrence Summers 2012
8th Director of the National Economic Council
In office
January 20, 2009 – December 31, 2010
DeputyDiana Farrell
Jason Furman
Preceded byKeith Hennessey
Succeeded byGene Sperling
27th President of Harvard University
In office
July 1, 2001 – June 30, 2006
Preceded byNeil Rudenstine
Succeeded byDerek Bok
71st United States Secretary of the Treasury
In office
July 2, 1999 – January 20, 2001
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byRobert Rubin
Succeeded byPaul H. O'Neill
United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
In office
August 11, 1995 – July 2, 1999
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byFrank N. Newman
Succeeded byStuart E. Eizenstat
Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs
In office
April 5, 1993 – August 11, 1995
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byDavid Mulford
Succeeded byMichael Bruno
Chief Economist of the World Bank
In office
January 14, 1991 – January 1993
PresidentBarber Conable
Lewis Thompson Preston
Preceded byStanley Fischer
Succeeded byMichael Bruno
Personal details
Lawrence Henry Summers

November 30, 1954 (age 64)
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Victoria Perry (m. 1984–2003)

Elisa New (m. 2005)
EducationMassachusetts Institute of Technology (BS)
Harvard University (MA, PhD)
Lawrence Summers's signature
Academic career
School or
New Keynesian economics
Alan Krueger, James R. Hines Jr.
Information at IDEAS / RePEc
Academic background
ThesisAn asset price approach to the analysis of capital income taxation (1982)
Doctoral advisor.

Family and education

Summers was born in New Haven, Connecticut, on November 30, 1954, into a Jewish family, the son of two economists, Robert Summers (who changed the family surname from Samuelson) and Anita Summers (of Romanian-Jewish ancestry), who are both professors at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the nephew of two Nobel laureates in economics: Paul Samuelson (brother of Robert Summers) and Kenneth Arrow (brother of Anita Summers). He spent most of his childhood in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, where he attended Harriton High School.

At age 16,[9] he entered Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he originally intended to study physics but soon switched to economics (S.B., 1975). He was also an active member of the MIT debating team and qualified for participation in the annual National Debate Tournament three times. He attended Harvard University as a graduate student (Ph.D., 1982).[10] In 1983, at age 28, Summers became one of the youngest tenured professors in Harvard's history. It was also during this time that Summers was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. He underwent treatment and has since remained cancer free. He was a visiting academic at the London School of Economics[11] in 1987. Summers has three children (older twin daughters Ruth and Pamela and son Harry) with his first wife, Victoria Joanne (Perry).[12][13] In December 2005, Summers married English professor Elisa New, who has three daughters (Yael, Orli and Maya) from a previous marriage. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.


Academic economist

Lawrence Summers, 1990
Summers in 1990

As a researcher, Summers has made important contributions in many areas of economics, primarily public finance, labor economics, financial economics, and macroeconomics. Summers has also worked in international economics, economic demography, economic history and development economics. His work generally emphasizes the analysis of empirical economic data in order to answer well-defined questions, for example: Does saving respond to after-tax interest rates? Are the returns from stocks and stock portfolios predictable? Are most of those who receive unemployment benefits only transitorily unemployed? etc. For his work, he received the John Bates Clark Medal in 1993 from the American Economic Association.[14] In 1987, he was the first social scientist to win the Alan T. Waterman Award from the National Science Foundation. Summers is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Public official

Summers was on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Reagan in 1982–1983. He also served as an economic adviser to the Dukakis Presidential campaign in 1988.

Chief Economist at the World Bank

Summers left Harvard in 1991 and served as Vice President of Development Economics and Chief Economist for the World Bank until 1993.[1][2][3]

According to the World Bank's Data & Research office (March, 2017), Summers returned to Washington, D.C. in 1991 as the World Bank's Vice President of Development Economics and Chief Economist. As such, Summers played a "key role" in designing strategies to aid developing countries, worked on the bank's loan committee, guided the bank's research and statistics operations, and guided external training programs.[1]

The World Bank's official site also reports that Summer's research included an "influential" report that demonstrated a very high return from investments in educating girls in developing nations.[1]

According to The Economist, Summers was "often at the centre of heated debates" about economic policy, to an extent exceptional for the history of the World Bank in recent decades.[15]

"Dirty industries" controversy

In December 1991, while at the World Bank, Summers signed a memo that was leaked to the press. Lant Pritchett has claimed authorship of the private memo, which both he and Summers say was intended as sarcasm.[16] The memo stated that "the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.[16] ... I've always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly underpolluted."[17] According to Pritchett, the memo, as leaked, was doctored to remove context and intended irony, and was "a deliberate fraud and forgery to discredit Larry and the World Bank."[18][16]

Service in the Clinton Administration

In 1993, Summers was appointed Undersecretary for International Affairs and later in the United States Department of the Treasury under the Clinton Administration. In 1995, he was promoted to Deputy Secretary of the Treasury under his long-time political mentor Robert Rubin. In 1999, he succeeded Rubin as Secretary of the Treasury.

Much of Summers's tenure at the Treasury Department was focused on international economic issues. He was deeply involved in the Clinton administration's effort to bail out Mexico and Russia when those nations had currency crises.[19] Summers set up a project through which the Harvard Institute for International Development provided advice to the Russian government between 1992 and 1997. Later there was a scandal when it emerged that some of the Harvard project members had invested in Russia, and were therefore not impartial advisors.[20] Summers encouraged then-Russian leader Boris Yeltsin to use the same "three-'ations'" of policy he advocated in the Clinton Administration – "privatization, stabilization, and liberalization."[21]

Summers pressured the Korean government to raise its interest rates and balance its budget in the midst of a recession, policies criticized by Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz.[22] According to the book The Chastening, by Paul Blustein, during this crisis, Summers, along with Paul Wolfowitz, pushed for regime change in Indonesia.[23]

Summers was a leading voice within the Clinton Administration arguing against American leadership in greenhouse gas reductions and against US participation in the Kyoto Protocol, according to internal documents made public in 2009.[24]

As Treasury Secretary, Summers led the Clinton Administration's opposition to tax cuts proposed by the Republican Congress in 1999.[25]

During the California energy crisis of 2000, then-Treasury Secretary Summers teamed with Alan Greenspan and Enron executive Kenneth Lay to lecture California Governor Gray Davis on the causes of the crisis, explaining that the problem was excessive government regulation.[26] Under the advice of Kenneth Lay, Summers urged Davis to relax California's environmental standards in order to reassure the markets.[27]

Summers hailed the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act in 1999, which lifted more than six decades of restrictions against banks offering commercial banking, insurance, and investment services (by repealing key provisions in the 1933 Glass–Steagall Act): "Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century," Summers said.[28] "This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy."[28] Many critics, including President Barack Obama, have suggested the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis was caused by the partial repeal of the 1933 Glass–Steagall Act.[29] Indeed, as a member of President Clinton's Working Group on Financial Markets, Summers, along with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Arthur Levitt, Fed Chairman Greenspan, and Secretary Rubin, torpedoed an effort to regulate the derivatives that many blame for bringing the financial market down in Fall 2008.[30]

Views on banking regulation

On May 7, 1998, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued a Concept Release soliciting input from regulators, academics, and practitioners to determine "how best to maintain adequate regulatory safeguards without impairing the ability of the OTC (over-the-counter) derivatives market to grow and the ability of U.S. entities to remain competitive in the global financial marketplace."[31] On July 30, 1998, then-Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Summers testified before the U.S. Congress that "the parties to these kinds of contract are largely sophisticated financial institutions that would appear to be eminently capable of protecting themselves from fraud and counterparty insolvencies." At the time Summers stated that "to date there has been no clear evidence of a need for additional regulation of the institutional OTC derivatives market, and we would submit that proponents of such regulation must bear the burden of demonstrating that need."[32] In 1999 Summers endorsed the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act which removed the separation between investment and commercial banks, saying "With this bill, the American financial system takes a major step forward towards the 21st Century."[33]

When George Stephanopoulos asked Summers about the financial crisis in an ABC interview on March 15, 2009, Summers replied that "there are a lot of terrible things that have happened in the last eighteen months, but what's happened at A.I.G. ... the way it was not regulated, the way no one was watching ... is outrageous."

In February 2009, Summers quoted John Maynard Keynes, saying "When circumstances change, I change my opinion", reflecting both on the failures of Wall Street deregulation and his new leadership role in the government bailout.[34] On April 18, 2010, in an interview on ABC's "This Week" program, Clinton said Summers was wrong in the advice he gave him not to regulate derivatives.

President of Harvard

In 2001, when George W. Bush became President, Summers left the Treasury Department and returned to Harvard as its 27th president, serving from July 2001 until June 2006.[14] He is considered Harvard's first Jewish president, though his predecessor Neil Rudenstine had Jewish ancestry, and received praise from Harvard's Jewish community for his support.[35]

A number of Summers's decisions at Harvard attracted public controversy.

Cornel West affair

In an October 2001 meeting, Summers criticized African American Studies department head Cornel West for allegedly missing three weeks of classes to work on the Bill Bradley presidential campaign, and complained that West was contributing to grade inflation. Summers also claimed that West's "rap" album was an "embarrassment" to the university. West pushed back strongly against the accusations.[36] "The hip-hop scared him. It's a stereotypical reaction", he said later. West, who later called Summers both "uninformed" and "an unprincipled power player" in describing this encounter in his book Democracy Matters (2004), subsequently returned to Princeton University, where he had taught prior to Harvard University.

Differences between the sexes

In January 2005, at a Conference on Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Summers sparked controversy with his discussion of why women may have been underrepresented "in tenured positions in science and engineering at top universities and research institutions".

Summers had prefaced his talk, saying he was adopting an "entirely positive, rather than normative approach" and that his remarks were intended to be an "attempt at provocation."[37]

Summers then began by identifying three hypotheses for the higher proportion of men in high-end science and engineering positions:

  1. The high-powered job hypothesis
  2. Different availability of aptitude at the high end
  3. Different socialization and patterns of discrimination in a search[37]

The second hypothesis, the generally greater variability among men (compared to women) in tests of cognitive abilities,[38][39][40] leading to proportionally more males than females at both the lower and upper tails of the test score distributions, caused the most controversy. In his discussion of this hypothesis, Summers said that "even small differences in the standard deviation [between genders] will translate into very large differences in the available pool substantially out [from the mean]".[37] Summers referenced research that implied differences between the standard deviations of males and females in the top 5% of twelfth graders under various tests. He then went on to argue that, if this research were to be accepted, then "whatever the set of attributes ... that are precisely defined to correlate with being an aeronautical engineer at MIT or being a chemist at Berkeley ... are probably different in their standard deviations as well".[37]

Summers then concluded his discussion of the three hypotheses by saying:

So my best guess, to provoke you, of what's behind all of this is that the largest phenomenon, by far, is the general clash between people's legitimate family desires and employers' current desire for high power and high intensity, that in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination. I would like nothing better than to be proved wrong, because I would like nothing better than for these problems to be addressable simply by everybody understanding what they are, and working very hard to address them.[37]

Summers then went on to discuss approaches to remedying the shortage of women in high-end science and engineering positions.

This lunch-time talk drew accusations of sexism and careless scholarship, and an intense negative response followed, both nationally and at Harvard.[41] Summers apologized repeatedly.[42] Nevertheless, the controversy is speculated to have contributed to his resigning his position as president of Harvard University the following year, as well as costing Summers the job of Treasury Secretary in Obama's administration.[43]

Summers's protégée Sheryl Sandberg has defended him saying that "Larry has been a true advocate for women throughout his career" at the World Bank and Treasury. Sandberg described of the lunch talk "What few seem to note is that it is remarkable that he was giving the speech in the first place – that he cared enough about women's careers and their trajectory in the fields of math and science to proactively analyze the issues and talk about what was going wrong".[44]

Summers's opposition and support at Harvard

On March 15, 2005, members of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which instructs graduate students in Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and undergraduates in Harvard College, passed 218–185 a motion of "lack of confidence" in the leadership of Summers, with 18 abstentions. A second motion that offered a milder censure of the president passed 253 to 137, also with 18 abstentions.

The members of the Harvard Corporation, the University's highest governing body, are in charge of the selection of the president and issued statements strongly supporting Summers.

FAS faculty were not unanimous in their comments on Summers. Influential psychologist Steven Pinker defended the legitimacy of Summers's January lecture. When asked if Summers's talk was "within the pale of legitimate academic discourse," Pinker responded "Good grief, shouldn't everything be within the pale of legitimate academic discourse, as long as it is presented with some degree of rigor? That's the difference between a university and a madrassa. There is certainly enough evidence for the hypothesis to be taken seriously."[45]

Summers had stronger support among Harvard College students than among the college faculty. One poll by the Harvard Crimson indicated that students opposed his resignation by a three-to-one margin, with 57% of responding students opposing his resignation and 19% supporting it.[46]

In July 2005, a board member of Harvard Corporation, Conrad K. Harper, resigned saying he was angered both by the university president's comments about women and by Summers being given a salary increase. The resignation letter to the president said, "I could not and cannot support a raise in your salary, ... I believe that Harvard's best interests require your resignation."[47][48]

Support of economist Andrei Shleifer

Harvard and Andrei Shleifer, a close friend and protégé of Summers, controversially paid $28.5 million to settle a lawsuit by the U.S. government over the conflict of interest Shleifer had while advising Russia's privatisation program. The US government had sued Shleifer under the False Claims Act, as he bought Russian stocks while designing the country's privatisation. In 2004, a federal judge ruled that while Harvard had violated the contract, Shleifer and his associate alone were liable for treble damages.

In June 2005, Harvard and Shleifer announced that they had reached a tentative settlement with the US government. In August, Harvard, Shleifer and the Department of Justice reached an agreement under which the university paid $26.5 million to settle the five-year-old lawsuit. Shleifer was also responsible for paying $2 million worth of damages.

Because Harvard paid almost all of the damages and allowed Shleifer to retain his faculty position, the settlement provoked allegations of favoritism on Summers. His continued support for Shleifer strengthened Summers's unpopularity with other professors, as reported in the Harvard Crimson:

I've been a member of this Faculty for over 45 years, and I am no longer easily shocked," is how Frederick H. Abernathy, the McKay professor of mechanical engineering, began his biting comments about the Shleifer case at Tuesday's fiery Faculty meeting. But, Abernathy continued, "I was deeply shocked and disappointed by the actions of this University" in the Shleifer affair.[49]

In an 18,000-word article "How Harvard lost Russia" in Institutional Investor by David McClintick (January 2006), the magazine detailed Shleifer's alleged efforts to use his inside knowledge of and sway over the Russian economy in order to make lucrative personal investments, all while leading a Harvard group, advising the Russian government, that was under contract with the U.S. The article suggests that Summers shielded his fellow economist from disciplinary action by the University, although it noted that Summers had forewarned Shleifer and his wife Nancy Zimmerman about the conflict-of-interest regulations back in 1996.[49] Summers's friendship with Shleifer was well known by the Corporation when it selected him to succeed Rudenstine and Summers recused himself from all proceedings with Shleifer, whose case was actually handled by an independent committee led by former Harvard President Derek Bok.

Resignation as Harvard President

On February 21, 2006, Summers announced his intention to step down at the end of the school year effective June 30, 2006. Harvard agreed to provide Summers on his resignation with a one-year paid sabbatical leave, subsidized a $1 million outstanding loan from the university for his personal residence, and provided other payments.[50] Former University President Derek Bok acted as Interim President while the University conducted a search for a replacement which ended with the naming of Drew Gilpin Faust on February 11, 2007.

Post-Harvard presidency career

Barack Obama in oval office with staff
President Barack Obama, on left, discusses with a group in the White House, including Larry Summers on far right (back to camera)

After a one-year sabbatical, Summers subsequently accepted Harvard University's invitation to serve as the Charles W. Eliot University Professor, one of twenty select University-wide professorships, with offices in the Kennedy School of Government and the Harvard Business School.[51] In 2006 he was also a member of the Panel of Eminent Persons which reviewed the work of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. He is a member in the Group of Thirty. He also currently serves on the Berggruen Institute's 21st Century Council, and was part of a 2015 Berggruen-organized meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping.[52][53]

Business interests

On October 19, 2006, Summers was hired as a part-time managing director of the New York-based hedge fund D. E. Shaw & Co. for which he received $5 million in salary and other compensation over a 16-month period.[54] At the same time Summers earned $2.8 million in speaking fees from major financial institutions,[55][56] including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers.[57] Upon being nominated Treasury Secretary by President Clinton in 1999, Summers listed assets of about $900,000 and debts, including a mortgage, of $500,000.[56] By the time he returned in 2009 to serve in the Obama administration, he reported a net worth between $17 million and $39 million.[56] He is a former member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.[58] In 2013, Summers became an early angel investor in India's first car rental company, Zoomcar, which was started by his former Harvard Teaching Fellow.[59]

National Economic Council

Upon the inauguration of Barack Obama as president in January 2009, Summers was appointed to the post of director of the National Economic Council.[60] In this position Summers emerged as a key economic decision-maker in the Obama administration, where he attracted both praise and criticism. There had been friction between Summers and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, as Volcker accused Summers of delaying the effort to organize a panel of outside economic advisers, and Summers had cut Volcker out of White House meetings and had not shown interest in collaborating on policy solutions to the economic crisis.[61] On the other hand, Obama himself was reportedly thrilled with the work Summers did in his first few weeks on the job. And Peter Orszag, another top economic advisor, called Summers "one of the world's most brilliant economists."[62] According to Henry Kissinger Larry Summers should "be given a White House post in which he was charged with shooting down or fixing bad ideas." [63]

In January 2009, as the Obama Administration tried to pass an economic stimulus spending bill, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR.) criticized Summers, saying that he thought that President Barack Obama is "ill-advised by Larry Summers. Larry Summers hates infrastructure."[64] DeFazio, along with liberal economists including Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, had argued that more of the stimulus should be spent on infrastructure,[65] while Summers had supported tax cuts.[66] In late 2008, Summers and economic advisors for then-President-elect Obama presented a memo with options for an economic stimulus package ranging from $550 billion to $900 billion.[67] According to The New Republic, economic advisor Christina Romer initially recommended a $1.8-trillion package, which proposal Summers quickly rejected, believing any stimulus approaching $1 trillion would not pass through Congress. Romer revised her recommendation to $1.2 trillion, which Summers agreed to include in the memo, but Summers struck the figure at the last minute.[68]

According to the Wall Street Journal, Summers called Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) asking him to remove caps on executive pay at firms that have received stimulus money, including Citigroup.[69]

On April 3, 2009 Summers came under renewed criticism after it was disclosed that he was paid millions of dollars the previous year by companies which he now had influence over as a public servant. He earned $5 million from the hedge fund D. E. Shaw, and collected $2.7 million in speaking fees from Wall Street companies that received government bailout money.[70]

Post-NEC career

Volodymyr Groysman and Lawrence Summers in Ukraine - 2018 (MUS6894)
Summers with Volodymyr Groysman in Ukraine.

Since leaving the NEC in December 2010, Summers has worked as an advisor to hedge fund D. E. Shaw & Co, Citigroup and the NASDAQ OMX Group while resuming his role as a tenured Harvard professor.[56] In June 2011 Summers joined the board of directors of Square, a company developing an electronic payment service,[71] and became a special adviser at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.[72] He joined the board of person-to-person lending company Lending Club in December 2012.[73] In July 2015 Summers joined the Board of Directors of Premise Data, a San Francisco-based data and analytics technology company that sources data from a global network of on-the-ground contributors.[74][75]

In April 2016, he was one of eight former Treasury secretaries who called on the United Kingdom to remain a member of the European Union ahead of the June 2016 Referendum.[76]

Summers referred to the United Kingdom's "Brexit" vote on June 23, 2016 - which concluded in favor of leaving the European Union - as the "worst self-inflicted policy wound that a country has done since the Second World War". However, Summers cautioned that the result was a "wake up call for elites everywhere" and called for "responsible nationalism" in response to simmering public sentiment.[77]

Candidacy for chairmanship of the Federal Reserve

In 2013, Summers emerged as one of two leading candidates, along with Janet Yellen, to succeed Ben Bernanke as head of the Federal Reserve System in 2014. The possibility of his nomination created a great deal of controversy with some Senators of both parties declaring opposition. On September 15, Summers withdrew his name from consideration for the position, writing "I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interest of the Federal Reserve, the Administration or, ultimately, the interests of the nation's ongoing economic recovery.".[78][79]

In popular culture

The 2010 film The Social Network, which deals with the founding of the social networking site Facebook, shows Summers (played by Douglas Urbanski), in his then-capacity as President of Harvard, meeting with Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss to discuss their accusations against Mark Zuckerberg.

In the 2010 documentary Inside Job, Summers is presented as one of the key figures behind the late-2000s financial crisis. Charles Ferguson points out the economist's role in what he characterizes as the deregulation of many domains of the financial sector.[80]

In The Simpsons episode "E My Sports" (S30 E17), the character Principal Seymour Skinner looks at a $100 bill and remarks "$100 bill, autographed by Lawrence Summers. Such a carefree signature, before the great recession."

See also


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  5. ^ "Historical Facts", Harvard University, retrieved March 31, 2017
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  9. ^ Plotz, David."Larry Summers: How the Great Brain learned to grin and bear it.", Slate, June 29, 2001.
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  11. ^ "Obama's LSE alumni". London School of Economics. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  12. ^ "Victoria J. Perry, A Lawyer, Is Wed To an Economist". New York Times. September 30, 1984. Retrieved September 16, 2013. Victoria Joanne Perry, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Perry of Ormond Beach, Fla., and Cape Rosier, Me., was married yesterday to Lawrence Henry Summers, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Summers of Merion Station, Pa. The ceremony was performed at the Harvard Club in Boston ...
  13. ^ "Victoria Perry to Wed L. H. Summers". The New York Times. June 10, 1984. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  14. ^ a b "The 30 Most Famous Harvard Students Of All Time". Business Insider. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  15. ^ "New ideas: The World Bank hires a famous contrarian," July 18, 2016, The Economist, retrieved March 31, 2017
  16. ^ a b c "Furor on Memo At World Bank," February 7, 1992, The New York Times, retrieved March 30, 2017
  17. ^ Office Memorandum from Lawrence M. Summers, Subject: GEP, the World Bank/IMFMIGA, 12 Dec 1991. This was an internal memo at the World Bank, not intended for the public -- reportedly sarcastic, rather than sincere, according to its authors -- that highlighted the economic logic of dumping waste in less-developed countries.
  18. ^ "Toxic Memo". Harvard Magazine. May – June 2001., also posted at: "Toxic memo". Archived from the original on December 3, 2008. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  19. ^ A New Economic Team: The Nominee; The Administration's Fiscal Closer. The New York Times. May 13, 1999.
  20. ^ Bruno S. Sergi (2009). Misinterpreting Modern Russia. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-8264-2772-4.
  21. ^ Naomi Klein, "The Shock Doctrine", p. 231
  22. ^ Blustein, Paul (2001). "'The Chastening'". Public Affairs, New York. Archived from the original on December 8, 2010.
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  25. ^ Aides Say Clinton Would Veto Tax Compromise. The Washington Post. July 26, 1999.
  26. ^ Krugman, Paul (November 20, 2008). "California Energy Memories". The New York Times. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
  27. ^ Gibney, Alex. "Larry Summers' Enron Problem". The Daily Beast.
  28. ^ a b Labaton, Stephen (November 5, 1999). "Congress Passes Wide Ranging Law Repealing Bank laws". New York Times. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
  29. ^ Paletta, Damian (March 10, 2009). "Ten Questions for Those Fixing the Financial Mess". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
  30. ^ "the warning". Frontline/PBS. October 23, 2009. Retrieved October 26, 2009.
  31. ^ "CFTC Issues Concept Release Concerning Over-The-Counter Derivatives Market". U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. May 7, 1998. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  32. ^ Summers, Lawrence (July 30, 1998). "Lawrence H. Summers Testimony". Archived from the original on October 25, 2009.
  33. ^ Orrell, David (2010). Economyths : ten ways economics gets it wrong. Mississauga, Ontario: John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd. pp. 142–143. ISBN 9780470677933. LCCN 2011286013.
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  35. ^ Harvard's First Jewish President. The Harvard Crimson. March 8, 2006
  36. ^ Bombardieri, Marcella (June 6, 2006). "Some seek a scholar's return". The Boston Globe.
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  79. ^ Lowrey, Annie; Appelbaum, Binyamin (September 15, 2013). "Summers Pulls Name From Consideration for Fed Chief". New York Times. Retrieved September 16, 2013. Facing growing opposition in Congress, Lawrence H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary and a top contender for Federal Reserve chairman, told President Obama that he didn't want to be considered for the job.
  80. ^ Ferguson, Charles (October 3, 2010). "Larry Summers and the Subversion of Economics". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved January 4, 2014.

External links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Stanley Fischer
Chief Economist of the World Bank
Succeeded by
Michael Bruno
Political offices
Preceded by
David Mulford
Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs
Succeeded by
Michael Bruno
Preceded by
Frank Newman
United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
Succeeded by
Stu Eizenstat
Preceded by
Bob Rubin
United States Secretary of the Treasury
Succeeded by
Paul O'Neill
Preceded by
Keith Hennessey
Director of the National Economic Council
Succeeded by
Gene Sperling
Academic offices
Preceded by
Neil Rudenstine
President of Harvard University
Succeeded by
Derek Bok
Andrei Shleifer

Andrei Shleifer ( SHLY-fər; born February 20, 1961) is a Russian American economist and Professor of Economics at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1991. Shleifer was awarded the biennial John Bates Clark Medal in 1999 for his seminal works in three fields: corporate finance (corporate governance, law and finance), the economics of financial markets (deviations from efficient markets), and the economics of transition.

IDEAS/RePEc has ranked him as the top economist in the world, and he is also listed as #1 on the list of "Most-Cited Scientists in Economics & Business". He served as project director of the Harvard Institute for International Development's Russian aid project from its inauguration in 1992 until 1997, where he and his associates made Russian investments, and settled a lawsuit from the U.S. government for such a violation of HIID's contract.

Automated Payment Transaction tax

The Automated Payment Transaction (APT) tax is a small, uniform tax on all economic transactions — involve simplification, base broadening, reductions in marginal tax rates, the elimination of tax and information returns and the automatic collection of tax revenues at the payment source. This proposal is to replace all United States taxes with a single tax (using a low rate) on every transaction in the economy. The APT approach would extend the tax base from income, consumption and wealth to all transactions. Proponents regard it as a revenue neutral transactions tax, whose tax base is primarily made up of financial transactions. It is based on the fundamental view of taxation as a "public brokerage fee accessed by the government to pay for the provision of the monetary, legal and political institutions that protect private property rights and facilitate market trade and commerce." The APT tax extends the tax reform ideas of John Maynard Keynes, James Tobin and Lawrence Summers, to their logical conclusion, namely to tax the broadest possible tax base at the lowest possible tax rate. The goal is to significantly improve economic efficiency, enhance stability in financial markets, and reduce to a minimum the costs of tax administration (assessment, collection, and compliance costs).

Balance of terror

The phrase "balance of terror" is usually, but not invariably, used in reference to the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

It describes the tenuous peace that existed between the two countries as a result of both governments being terrified at the prospect of a world-destroying nuclear war. The term is usually used for rhetorical purposes, and was probably coined by Lester Pearson in June 1955 at the 10th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter: "the balance of terror has succeeded the balance of power".Some political scientists use this phrase as a means of differentiating the world situation that followed World War II from that which preceded it. Previously, empires had prevented war between each other by maintaining a relative balance of their ability (economic, military, and political) to wage war against each other—the phrase "balance of power" was often used to describe this kind of tentative peace.

The atomic bomb created a new political reality, in which two superpowers had the ability to destroy each other and at least gravely damage all of human civilization. The obstacle to war between the communists and capitalists was no longer the fear that the other side was more powerful, but rather the realization that nuclear arsenals were now large enough and deadly enough that winning would still likely result in the destruction of one's own country and perhaps the rest of the world as well.

In this counterintuitive way, the existence of the most powerful weapons ever created actually supported a kind of peace: while many wars were fought around the world during the Cold War, the superpowers never fought each other directly, nor have atomic bombs been dropped in war since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in 1945.

Lawrence Summers, after the financial meltdown of 2008, adopted the term as appropriate for the situation of a 'financial balance of terror' in global markets.

Bradley A. Buckles

Bradley A. Buckles was sworn in as the fifth Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) on December 20, 1999 by Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers. He previously served as Deputy Director under ATF Director John Magaw from 1996-1999. He began his service with ATF in 1974 when he joined the ATF Office of Chief Counsel. He was named Chief Counsel of ATF in 1995.The Homeland Security Act of 2002 reorganized federal law enforcement and domestic security efforts and established the Department of Homeland Security. This legislation moved components of the Departments of Treasury, Justice, Transportation and other agencies to a new Department of Homeland Security. This law also transferred ATF law enforcement and firearms and explosives regulatory functions to the Justice Department. ATF's tax collection and trade practice regulation of the beverage alcohol industries were retained in the Treasury Department. Buckles worked with Treasury officials and ATF regulatory and tax experts on the setup of the new Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in the Treasury Department and was responsible for the transition of the remainder of the agency to the Department of Justice. He was named Acting Director of the new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) by Attorney General John Ashcroft in January 2003. He served in this capacity until retiring from federal service in January 2004.

Buckles is a graduate of the University of Wyoming and Washburn University School of Law.

Center for Global Development

The Center for Global Development (CGD) is a nonprofit think tank based in Washington, D.C. and London that focuses on international development.

It was founded in November 2001 by former senior U.S. official Edward W. Scott, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, C. Fred Bergsten, and Nancy Birdsall. Birdsall, the former Vice President of the Inter-American Development Bank and former Director of the Policy Research Department at the World Bank, became the Center's first President. Lawrence Summers was unanimously elected in March 2014 by the CGD Board of Directors to succeed founding Board Chair Edward Scott, Jr., on May 1, 2014.CGD was ranked the 13th most prominent think tank in the international development sphere by University of Pennsylvania's "2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report". In 2009, Foreign Policy Magazine's Think-Tank Index listed CGD as one of the top 15 overall think-tanks in the USA. CGD's stated mission is "to reduce global poverty and inequality by encouraging policy change in the United States and other rich countries through rigorous research and active engagement with the policy community. The Center considers itself to be a "think and do" tank, with an emphasis on producing research that is channeled into practical policy proposals.CGD is well known for leading debt-relief programs, specifically in Nigeria and Liberia. CGD Vice President Todd Moss first proposed the Nigerian debt buy-back, which resulted in the Paris Club of rich nations forgiving 60% of $31 billion of debt. Former CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet advised Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her senior advisors on debt relief and aid coordination.

CGD is also known for creating the program called advance market commitments to encourage vaccine development for specific diseases. The G7 endorsed the approach and the Gates Foundation and five countries gave $1.5 billion to create a vaccine against strains of pneumonia.In cooperation with Foreign Policy, CGD has published the Commitment to Development Index since 2003. The annual index ranks countries based on how their foreign aid, trade, migration, investment, environment, security and technology policies encourage global development.The Center for Global Development in Europe was established in October 2011 with the aim of engaging with and learning from policymakers, academics, and researchers in Europe, and bringing the CGD blend of evidence-led, high-quality research and engagement to European policymaking and engagement about development. "CGD in Europe" research initiatives include "Europe Beyond Aid", Development Impact Bonds, and Illicit Financial Flows.

In November 2013, CGD purchased a new headquarters that includes a 170-seat state-of-the-art conference center, a 60-seat boardroom/ideas lab, and a multimedia studio.

Donna Nelson

Dr. Donna J. Nelson is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oklahoma. Nelson specializes in organic chemistry, which she both researches and teaches. Nelson has focused on five primary topics of research, generally categorized in two areas, Scientific Research and America's Scientific Readiness. Within Scientific Research, Nelson's topics have been on mechanistic patterns in alkene addition reactions and on Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube (SWCNT) functionalization and analysis, yielding the first COSY NMR spectrum of covalently functionalized SWCNTs in solution. Under America's Scientific Readiness, she focuses on science education, which includes classroom innovations and correcting organic chemistry textbook inaccuracies, on ethnic and gender diversity (the Nelson Diversity Surveys) among highly ranked science departments of research universities, and on improving the image and presentation of science and scientists to the public. Nelson also served as a science advisor to the AMC television show Breaking Bad. She was the 2016 President of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Edward Luce

Edward Luce (born 1 June 1968) is an English journalist and the Financial Times chief US commentator and columnist based in Washington, D.C. Before that he was the Financial Times' Washington bureau chief, and South Asia bureau chief based in New Delhi.Luce is the son of conservative politician Richard Luce; his first cousin is actress Miranda Hart. He completed his secondary education at various boarding schools around Sussex, graduated with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from New College, Oxford in 1990, and received a post-graduate diploma in newspaper journalism from City University, London.His first job was as a correspondent for The Guardian in Geneva, Switzerland. He joined the Financial Times in 1995 and initially reported from the Philippines, after which he took a one-year sabbatical working in Washington, D.C. as speech writer for Lawrence Summers, then US treasury secretary (1999–2001) during the Clinton administration.

J. Bradford DeLong

James Bradford "Brad" DeLong (born June 24, 1960) is an economic historian who is professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. DeLong served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury in the Clinton Administration under Lawrence Summers.

He is an active blogger whose "Grasping Reality with Both Invisible Hands" covers political and economic issues as well as criticism of their media coverage. According to the 2019 ranking of economists by Research Papers in Economics, DeLong is the 746th most influential economist.

Jeremy R. Knowles

Jeremy Randall Knowles (28 April 1935 – 3 April 2008) was a professor of chemistry at Harvard University,who served asdean of the Harvard University faculty of arts and sciences (FAS) from 1991 to 2002. He joined Harvard in 1974, received many awards for his research, and remained at Harvard until his death, leaving the faculty for a decade to serve as Dean. Knowles died on 3 April 2008 at his home.In 2006, he was selected by incoming interim president Derek Bok to return to his position as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on an interim basis, replacing William C. Kirby, who was ousted by now former president Lawrence Summers.

John Summers (footballer)

John Lawrence Summers (8 February 1915 – 12 April 1991) was an English professional footballer who played as an outside-forward for various clubs in the 1930s, including Leicester City, Derby County and Southampton in the Football League before becoming a police officer in Southampton.

Marty Moe

Martin Troen Moe is an American executive serving as president of Vox Media. Early in his career, he was an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and was an adviser to Lawrence Summers, United States Secretary of the Treasury. He later worked for AOL before joining SportsBlogs Inc., which later rebranded as Vox Media in 2011. He is credited as a co-founder of the technology news website The Verge. He served as the site's publisher, then as Vox Media's chief content officer, before being promoted to the role of president.

Michael Moynihan (author)

Michael Moynihan is an American author and the nephew of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, former Senator (Democrat) from New York. He wrote The Coming American Renaissance, a rebuttal of works by Lester Thurow and others, argued that America possessed a unique set of economic advantages that would propel it to global leadership in the 21st century. Moynihan cited technology leadership, in particular, as a driver of economic growth. He worked in the Clinton administration as an advisor to Secretaries of the Treasury, Lawrence Summers and Robert Rubin from 1996 to 1999. Moynihan was in charge of Internet and electronic commerce policy and was involved with the effort to pass the Internet Tax Freedom Act. Moynihan founded the Internet website AlwaysonTV.

Multinational Monitor

The Multinational Monitor was a bimonthly magazine founded by Ralph Nader in 1980. It was published by Essential Information. The magazine was formerly published on a monthly basis. Although its primary focus was on analysis of corporations, it also published articles on labor issues and occupational safety and health, the environment, globalization, privatization, the global economy, and developing nations.

The headquarters of the magazine was in Washington DC. It was a non-profit and advertising-free publication.

The last issue (according to the magazine's web-site) had a coverdate of May/June 2009; this magazine may now be permanently defunct, though the web-site still contains a very thorough archive of past issues.

Nancy Linari

Nancy Linari is an American actress and voice actress who is most popular as voicing many minor Sonic the Hedgehog characters. She also has recurring roles on Duckman, W.I.T.C.H., The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, and has guest starred on a number of other TV shows like Two and a Half Men. Her role in W.I.T.C.H. is as Elizabeth Hale in "Parents Night" and "W is for Witch". Linari also provided the voice of Morticia on The Addams Family. Most recently, she played the secretary of Harvard University president Lawrence Summers in The Social Network. In 2016, Linari voiced Lars' mother Martha Barriga in Steven Universe and a year later, she voiced May Parker in the 2017 Spider-Man TV series and reprised the same role in the 2018 video game.

Robert Summers

Robert Summers (June 22, 1922 – April 17, 2012) was an economist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught from 1960. A widely cited early work by Summers is on the small-sample statistical properties of alternate regression estimators where analytical measures are unavailable.Summers received his Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Summers was part of a team at Penn that developed estimates of national income and output across countries which adjust GDP and components for purchasing power parity in the cost of goods and services among different countries, later termed the Penn World Table. This yielded large, systematic differences from the common method of using only international exchange rates to convert national products to a common currency. For that work, Summers and Alan Heston were recognized as American Economic Association Distinguished Fellows for 1998.Prior to joining the Penn faculty, Summers was on the faculty at Yale University.Summers was married to Anita Summers. They are the parents of Lawrence Summers. His brother is Paul Samuelson. (Their deceased older brother Harold, a lawyer, changed his name to Summers in his youth, and Robert did the same.) All three of these people were also noted economists, as is his wife's brother Kenneth Arrow.

Summers memo

The Summers memo was a 1991 memo on trade liberalization that was written by Lant Pritchett and signed by Lawrence Summers who was then Chief Economist of the World Bank. It included a section that both Summers and Pritchett say was sarcastic that suggested dumping toxic waste in third-world countries for perceived economic benefits.After the material was leaked by Roberto Smeraldi of Friends of the Earth to Jornal do Brasil on February 2, 1992. Pritchett (who worked under Summers) stated that he had written the memo and Summers had only signed it, and that it was intended to be "sarcastic". According to Pritchett, the memo as leaked was doctored to remove context and intended irony, and was "a deliberate fraud and forgery to discredit Larry and the World Bank".Daniel Hausman and Michael McPherson have argued that the satirical section might seem to be based in economics as a science, but in fact contains strong moral premises which cannot be removed and still leave the argument intact. Brazilian Secretary of the Environment Jose Lutzenberger argued that it demonstrated "the arrogant ignorance of many conventional 'economists' concerning the nature of the world we live in".

Timothy Geithner

Timothy Franz Geithner (; born August 18, 1961) is a former American central banker who served as the 75th United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Barack Obama, from 2009 to 2013. He was the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 2003 to 2009, following service in the Clinton administration. Since March 2014, he has served as president and managing director of Warburg Pincus, a private equity firm headquartered in New York City.As President of the New York Fed and Secretary of the Treasury, Geithner had a key role in government efforts to recover from the financial crisis of 2007–08 and the Great Recession. At the New York Fed, Geithner helped manage crises involving Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and the American International Group; as Treasury Secretary, he oversaw allocation of $350 billion under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, enacted during the previous administration in response to the subprime mortgage crisis. Geithner also managed the administration's efforts to restructure regulation of the nation's financial system; attempts to spur recovery of the mortgage market and the automobile industry; demands for protectionism; tax reform; and negotiations with foreign governments on global finance issues.

United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury

The Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, in the United States government, advises and assists the Secretary of the Treasury in the supervision and direction of the Department of the Treasury and its activities, and succeeds the secretary in his absence, sickness, or unavailability. The deputy secretary plays a primary role in the formulation and execution of Treasury policies and programs in all aspects of the department's activities.

In addition, the deputy secretary is the only official other than the secretary who can sign a Treasury Order, which is a document that delegates authority residing in the secretary or deputy secretary to another Treasury official, establishes Treasury policy, and establishes the reporting relationships and supervision of officials. Former Deputy Secretaries include Roger Altman, Lawrence Summers, Stuart E. Eizenstat, Kenneth W. Dam, and Samuel W. Bodman.The office of deputy secretary is the successor of the "Under Secretary of the Treasury", the former chief deputy to the secretary. Today, several officials hold the title of "Under Secretary" of the Treasury. Among those who served as under secretary when it was the number-two position in the department include Dean Acheson, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., John W. Hanes II, and O. Max Gardner (1946–47).The current Deputy Secretary is Justin Muzinich. President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Muzinich on March 13, 2018. The nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on a vote of 55-44.

Washington Agreement on Gold

The Washington Agreement on Gold was signed on 26 September 1999 in Washington, D.C. during the International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meeting, and the US Secretary of the Treasury, Lawrence Summers, and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, were present.

The second version of the agreement was signed in 2004, the agreement was extended in 2009.

New Keynesians
18th century
19th century
20th century
21st century
Cabinet of President Bill Clinton (1993–2001)

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