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Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

NOT SUMMERS

Let’s throw out a few names for the Secretary of the Treasury.

LI was startled that Larry Summers is even being considered. Obama owes his election to women, and it is not a good idea to repay this debt by making Summers his first appointment. The other mention is Timothy F. Geithner, who has been the strongman in the current financial crisis. The names floated immediately to the top in the Post – and I think I can be confident that Summer’s friends had something to do with that.

But how about some more unorthodox candidates:

For instance, how about Esther Duflo, MIT prof and head of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab? Admittedly, there might be a nationality problem. I’m not sure if she is still French or not – and she is below forty. However, she was named among the top one hundred public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy mag. Here’s a q and a with her. Now, perhaps she would be better as the head of the World Bank. But I like her expertise in poverty reduction, and her commitment to testing models against applications – which would be common sense anywhere else but in economics.

How about the economist who is supposedly Obama’s advisor on trade issues, Laura D’Andrea Tyson? She is infinitely preferable in terms of her acquaintance with healthcare economics – which is going to be a big issue for the Obama administration. Tyson is actually on the short list, and she seems to be a much more liberal – in the sense of Galbraithian liberal - economist than such as Summers.


How about Teresa Ghilarducci? The New School economist has written a book about what is wrong with 401(k)s that has already driven conservatives insane – her testimony in October spawned an outbreak of ideological rash, for instance, here. They are, of course, right to be worried – the entanglement of the working class with our investor overlords is the very heart of conservative politics. Taking back retirement would revolutionize the politics of this country.

And finally – on this roll call of what you will notice are all progressive women economists and hotshots – Jane D’Arista of the Financial Markets Center and an expert on the regulation of said markets, former chief economists for the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who was recently celebrated here.

20 comments:

northanger said...

i'm with Vernon Jordan on this one: Chief of Staff should be picked first.

northanger said...

oh hey, Emanuel Accepts.

northanger said...

my gut says Obama's first treasury secretary may be a "temporary" -- so Volcker, if he's up for it, might be a solid bet.

roger said...

TESTING

roger said...

Okay, this thing ate my last comment. What I was gonna say is - it is pretty stormy out there for Volcker. I like the guy, but he's maybe a little too old. I'd settle for Tyson. I'd dream about Ghilarducci. And of course there are males that I haven't included. What I wanted to say, though, was that, in this country of 350 million peeps, we don't have to confine ourselves to the D.C. circle. I mean, we don't even have to confine ourselves to people with my skin color and genital arrangement. Land's sakes! What a discovery!

northanger said...

can we please avoid counting how many ovaries or how much melanin is in the new cabinet? pleeze.

roger said...

Ah, North, but isn't that the age old plea - which leads to the same damn circle of old guys? For unfortunately, how many ovaries or how much melanin has been carefully, oh so carefully, counted over the last three hundred years? That history hasn't vanished. There's no second childhood, here, no returning to innocence - but there is a bigger world out there, and you can measure it indeed by the fact that you bump into more ovaries and more melanin as you travel through it. Don't cast out the past by using the past's same cast. I've seen that cast before, and I know a rerun when I see one - and Larry Summers is definitely a rerun.

northanger said...

wait a minute, wait just a damn minute. you're a guy & you're white! OMG! i need to find another blog!

btw, i'm reading this right now.

roger said...

North, I don't think that white males are going to have to worry about being left out of positions of power and influence anytime soon. Hmm, I'd guess that if Obama appointed a cabinet that looked like an orgy between Amazons and Black panthers, the great majority of sub-secretaries would be white and male.

So, yeah, there are metrics, believe it or not, and if we just forget diversity and the cabinet ends up composed of all rich white guys, I'm not gonna thank God above for blessing us with such a wondrous meritocracy, picked only for their awesome talent.

northanger said...

oh quit worrying, the cabinet will be diverse.

btw, both Obamas are Harvard Law alumni & they know about the Summers brouhaha. for me the interesting question: why is Summers, despite all the controversy, on Obama's TS short list? what's he looking at? is this a strategic or tactical move?

roger said...

Well, I think you are right. The lack of diversity is in the media, not Obama. In my own humble o., Summers might not be under consideration at all - and his name is being floated as a move in the intricate court game that is played through the press, the tug of war between "moderate" Dems and liberals. He has a very powerful lobby in the press.

The names I listed are probably too leftwing, except for Tyson.

northanger said...

yeah. suddenly, this year, it matters who the secretary of the treasury is going to be. hmm, i wonder why.

Anonymous said...

You guys are heartless. Where is your compassion. When I reflect on this: "Soon after, I happened to sit next to a Bear Stearns managing director on the 6:35 express from Grand Central Station to Greenwich, Conn. "I worked eight years at a firm that promoted me from the back office to investment banking," he told me as he sipped a Budweiser tall boy. "I had thousands of shares and thought I could afford to send my kids to private schools and college. It's all gone now. I think I'll probably move to Pittsburgh, see if the Federal Home Loan Bank needs anybody," I think, there's a man who needs a job. Let's ask him if he's interested.

Chuckie K

roger said...

He put all his money into the company he worked for?

Sorry, buckoo. But I will switch places with him. He can write reviews and edit for 10 to 15 thou a year, and I'll sip the tall boys and poke my portfolio to see if, by chance, I didn't invest in anything else. Among the embers, there might be the tiniest little asset. Something that I could - in my current instantiation - work for ten years and not afford.

Except I won't drink those nasty tall boys. I have my pride! Extra lager 9 Baltikas for me.

not from Vermont said...

What about Howard Dean? He is a national political figure with the ability to get voters attention and explain hard truths to them. He has been a governor and has some understanding of finance (I think his family ran a brokerage), but has no connection to the Wall Street mess. Plus Obama owes him a major appointment, he has been the most effective DNC chair since the New Deal era.

All the names being mentioned for Treasury Secretary either played a major role in creating the policies that blew up in the financial crisis, or are obscure economists who will have no ability to rally popular support behind their policies. Summers is objectionable on both those counts, plus his failure as president as Harvard, this idea is just as bad if not worse as the Rumsfeld appointment.

roger said...

Interesting idea, mr. nfv. But why treasury? Dean, I think, is much more of a healthcare guy. I think I'd rather seem him at Health and Human services.

Which reminds me - in general, the cabinet under Bush consisted of non-entities, and that was intentional. The only people we knew were defense and state, while treasury only became a big post after the crisis. I hope Obama lifts the profile of Labor, the Interior, Commerce and the Treasury, so that they are equally weighted and - to use the tired biz term - synergized. I don't want labor to be the fifth fuckin wheel.

northanger said...

i like the weighting idea roger. could be the problem i have with this super focus on the TS. especially since we're at war. am i wrong to think of the economy as a "war economy"? then yes, Summers is problematic.

northanger said...

i know Wall Street likes Summers because he's smart & he knows finance. i hate counting ovaries, but the main reason Summers is ironically problematic (from a "we are at war" standpoint) involves women in combat.

roger said...

Well, North, I'll believe Summers when I see it. To tell you the truth, I think the rush to put his name forward in the papers might well have pissed Obama off - he should definitely look at it as a sign that this is a man who uses his clique in the media. And that might not be to Obama's benefit.

northanger said...

yeah, Summers doesn't quite fit the no drama, no leak rule.

btw, i know the economy is important, but the war on terror doesn't suddenly disappear when Obama takes office. things just click in place for me when i think, "war economy". then i realize men & women were serving multiple deployments, being wounded & dying for this country, while this country put military families' jobs, savings, retirement & homes at stake. forgive me if i think Wall Street should show some grit. or that somehow – with capitalism's vaunted innovation & willingness to risk – keep credit moving.