The Economic Czar

The recent naming of Larry Summers as head economic advisor to President-elect Obama was met with different reactions. Some progressives expressed concern about his role in the deregulation drive of the 1990’s, while some conservatives were probably alarmed by his ideas about straightening out inequality.

I must admit, I have mixed feelings about Summers. Notwithstanding his inartful comments regarding women and science, and despite his role in pushing deregulation of the financial markets, he displays two important traits – traits too often in short supply.

First, and take this with a grain of salt because I actually don’t know the guy, he appears to have learned from both his own mistakes and the mistakes of other countries. His revised position on deregulation, as well as his position on countries facing a credit crisis shows me he is not an ideologue.

Put another way, evidence should play a big role in Summers’ economic advice to the incoming president.

Second, Summers’ will likely be a truth teller.  Much of this trait will be heavily encouraged by the uniqueness of his position and strong direction from Obama. But, the conditions are right for a little more straight talk from the president’s head economic advisor.

So, the conditions are right for a different direction on economic policy in the Office of the President – both philosophically and stylistically.


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