Larry Summers in the Winter of Gender Discontent

I just discovered this man.  I write this with a smile.  I scanned over this global elite World Bank bean counter.   Again with humour (not disparaging but having a playful look).

I respect everyone as equal in respect of their purpose on earth.  In his case I was inspired to look at his honest appraisal of gender differences.  I can feel Jordan Peterson in the air, clapping away happily.  So with love I am not going to prove him wrong because I don’t care that much. I know who I am. It is more a feeling to assert my own truth.

Do I feel drawn to STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths.  I’d say on the whole no.  I was drawn to biology as I was interested in natures blueprint as the geometric blueprint that is designed for homeostasis. Nature is creative, responsive or what has been termed adaptive, functional and sustainable. This is not a masculine or feminine it is encoded.  I saw it as the teacher of engineering.  My husband was an engineer and I told him to deeply observe nature if he wants to invest.

I predominantly live in the right brain today, females are biologically right brain oriented (creative), however females move between both left and right. Males tend to be left brain oriented.  I do recall a shift in my own consciousness where I felt I was moving out of the left brain masculine (economics, market research) to right brain feminine (poetry, philosophy and clowning).  It was an unmistakable feeling.  I dreamed I was teaching peace which had never occurred to me.  I was a kind person and cared for people but was not into peace.  I was interested in living but had no idea of my purpose.

When the shift happened I felt a change where economics, markets, money, ambition, career all became unimportant.  I stepped out of what seemed order and certainty into a world of uncertainty and constant change.  Where I had always felt confident and having an answer I came into a realisation that I knew nothing and I lived in uncertainty which took a long time to get used to.  At times it was emotionally very hard as I couldn’t find my path.  So I had to learn to let go of control.  I believe this shift was to catalyse the reality of uncertainty and to be open to allowing life to unfold.

Now is this gender, I don’t think so.  I believe I was to move from materialism to inner awareness.  It is like walking out of your house and not knowing where you are going but you just keep walking and you never return to your house.  All those possessions you thought were important were irrelevant for the journey that unfolded the true self.  I saw this as the true objective of life. Thus I often state ‘to thine own self be true’.  As an economist myself I remember debating the idealistic notion of infinite growth on a finite planet.  I took this to a professor who agreed with me. I saw demand and supply as simplistic as it wasn’t able to bring in the social-emotional needs of human beings.  I saw at as a masculine construct that has strengths in structure but has no real depth when it comes to nature, or indeed human nature. This of course is a perennial argument between the genders and the grey areas where each do not know or understand the other.  It is not about competing or excluding 51% of the human race in respect of STEM, as no-one can make a statement that females are not competent here.  Clearly there are engineers that are female who are very talented.  I’ve met women who care nothing for cooking, cleaning, sewing, babies but had real interest in mechanics and so forth.  I came to realise the masculine and feminine were in both genders.  The issue of homosexuality is really the masculine and feminine expressing in the same gender.  I’ve met some very masculine females who look like males.  You can see they are not into communicating, they are structural logical thinkers.  So clearly it is not about a chemical predominance in estrogen or testosterone.  It expresses in both.  I have met men who love knitting, who love cooking, who are clean freaks where everything has to be put in its place. I’ve met men who are transvestites in London, they were gorgeous and really flamboyant and fun.  I recall in Sydney I was in Kings Cross when I was around 18 checking it out.  I was in a bar and Les girls were there.  One said in a deep voice ‘hey luv where are your shoes?’  In those days we took them off.  I laughed, s/he looked beautiful but the adams apple was unmistakable.  I loved the diversity.  I saw those people who expressed in this way as a third gender.  They were more creative I felt than women, outrageous and alive and unafraid to express who they are.  I loved that.

Russian cosmonauts included women as they didn’t have the strong Christian traditions of women’s place.  I met a Russian engineer who told me she was seen differently there, in Australia she had more of a battle on her hands to be accepted as equal.  I know another woman who was a surveyor, blonde, blue eyed who was given a really hard time by the men on the site.  She was not a feminine woman, she was attractive but down to earth she called a spade a space and went camping with her dog.  She was a country girl.  Very strong. Not a stereotypical female.  Women have been perceived by males as inferior since time immemorial, or at least after the collapse of the matriarchy which did indeed exist as the ‘goddess’ mythology arose from that point in time, beyond our historical records. Women as leaders were not interested in superiority of the female they saw themselves as ensuring the wellbeing of the people as a whole.  They saw their role differently.  The mother was the centre of the culture and deeply respected, not what we see today, particularly with single mothers.  The mother figure is powerful and all children, including all who read this, have felt the power of their mother’s love and how she gives to her children unselfishly.  There is a deep and special bond between child and mother as she carried you in her womb and with great pain brought you into the world to experience this life.  That is not only a physical event it is deeply integrated as the child is part of the mother – spiritually, energetically feeling her every mood. That is not to minimise males but creation has placed woman in the position of bearing the generations. The chromozones have XY and XX, so the male is part of the female.  Her nurturing is clearly a foundation to socio-emotional health and community survival. The men often felt on the outer and this did breed resentment according to some perspectives.  Father’s should never underestimate their power either.  I think of my father whom I love dearly but like most men he doesn’t know how to emotionally connect or how to check in with his children. Yet he was adored.  So the feminine and masculine is not a competition it is about how to live with diversity for the betterment of all, to become whole this is where holy comes from.  It is not a simplistic notion of favouring males over females in Science or trying to undermine the feminine by excluding her through IT and other technologies under the guise of interconnectivity and sustainability.  The true interconnection is communication, family bonds, community interaction and sustainability is aligning with our true nature not trying to be the other gender.   Nature created those differences for the optimal resilience of the human species, who have survived against all the odds and cruelties.

If we turn to gender and fairness then – if a woman wants to be a scientist go for it.  If a man wants to be a dress designer go for it.  Those who resonate will turn up.  But it is not to deliberately craft the world to give one gender superiority over the other this is where the real dysfunction resides.  It comes from inferiority in truth, it comes from powerlessness where the male is seeking power on some level, that is why he seeks it – physically or metaphysically.  He refuses to look within at where he feels empty, his true disconnect.  Where he feels incomplete as he has to have more and more. such is the void.  Addictions arise from this deep need to prove himself in the eyes of other men and to be admired by women.  He seeks to stay on top to be seen to be, to get what he thinks he wants.  He believes this is getting there.  It is not.  Why? he never feels truly happy.

So when males and females come together to share insights this dynamic becomes the teacher of one for the other as an intimate sharing.  The differences make it interesting, as the feminine wants more of the masculine and the masculine wants more of the feminine as unity is the fusion of the two.  Indeed this is the experience of grace, as masculine and feminine integrate in a way that is deeply respectful. But to continue on a trajectory pretending equality and access when really it is about discrimination, superiority and powerlessness of one gender renders the human race in a state of imbalance which is why we have famine, poverty, single parents without support, drug addiction (connected to violent conflict [inner conflict]), inequality, unfairness and the list goes on. It has nothing to do with economics, as the money is there and can be printed. It is deliberately keeping people in states of scarcity in order to control. This is not love but power. And this power is not real. I say this as when power is removed from that individual who feels untouchable, they fall apart.  They lost their connection to the real power they seek, love.  The physical is temporary.

There are more people realising we have lived before.  That life is a journey.  That there is indeed a next life.  That we have been both women and men.  That we choose to come onto the earth plane to play out our part.  Anyone who has seriously looked into near death knows this.  Those in the military already know about interdimensional time travel, they know about UFO’s as Area 51 and Project Bluebook make clear and the many disclosures happening today.  They know there are future possibilities and that we are to choose the future.  So the gender argument is really coming out of an old paradigm that believes its happiness is anchored to power over others not to integrate within him/herself the feminine and the masculine.  That is completeness.  That is peace.  Whilst you fight you can’t win. The winning is in surrendering to life which is the creator of us all and indeed, is us all.

Men have work to do on looking within themselves to allow the feminine to guide that emotional release that is desperately needed in order to stop denial and endless violence.

  • What good is it to be an economist if you can’t make peace with your neighbour?
  • What good is it to have all the money more than you need if you don’t feel the exhilaration of uncertainty and chance?
  • What good is it to know all the book learning knowledge to adopt the title of Dr. or Professor if you do not know yourself, let alone truth?
  • What good is it to have a mansion when you do not know the joy of giving shelter to those without a home?  To see their happiness as they look into your eyes with deep gratitude as they see you and will never forget you.  Kindness matters.

I see this imbalance as the real poverty.  Mother Theresa did too.  She saw a greater poverty in the West than in Calcutta, India.  She stated that on a visit to Australia.  She saw the psychological pain in people as they lost a sense of family and community.

Gender is irrelevant in my view, it just is what it is.  It is said that diversity is honoured, it can’t be honoured until you see the unity in diversity without forcing doctrines.  This is where we all meet as equals, not the same but open to equal opportunities as life.  Anyone can manifest anything that they put their heart and soul into, most just don’t believe it.  If this is the only inhibitor to creating a great future then we must learn about who we are as humans.  You will no longer see gender when you are able to see people for who they really are.  It doesn’t register. As a clown I didn’t see gender, I only saw beauty and my ego disappeared as love guided my life.

That’s my experience.

Here is Jill Bolte Taylor an Neuroanatoist Scientist who had a left brain tumour to discover the unlimitedness of the right brain.  Her description was not analysis it was ‘beautifulllllll’

Here is the Wikpedia overview of Larry.  What I would prefer is to know who he really is.  To know if he cries, if he has nightmares, what makes him happy, what are his dreams.  This is the feminine that cares nothing for status but finds the real wealth in a person’s character.  Is he kind to his children, animals or those he deems as different?  What is his talent outside of economics.  This is how we truly get to know people outside of false titles, certificates, education, contacts etc.  When you pass over none of that matters.  Perhaps your right of passage will be ‘who were you whilst you were on earth?’  ‘did you love?’  All those who have had near death all come back and say they do not fear death and they realise they are here to love.

I have been a peace clown in my life, it was the greatest experience of my life.  Economics helped me understand the world as I had a deep desire to know the macroeconomic picture. The real love for me was loving others, I felt the real freedom and prosperity in giving without an agenda.  People were so surprised that we clowned for free.  I didn’t want to be restricted by someone saying I need to put on a show and then judging it as good/bad, I just wanted to interact with my world and love them for no reason.  Unbelievable joy came from this.  I often joked it was better than making love, as it was love as an expression of who I am.  This was my greatest teacher as I realised unconditional love was real.  A parent would know this.   That is why the real work of humanity is to work on love not power.

Perhaps next life you choose to be a clown. That’s fun!

I send love to Larry.  May he be at peace and experience the freedom of giving to live.


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.

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

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

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 (DOR.) 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

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




  1. Ferguson, Charles (October 3, 2010). “Larry Summers and the Subversion of Economics”. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved January 4, 2014.

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