Galbraith’s Post-Mortem on the Summers Drama by Dan Kervick


I guess I am playing a role in the meta-analysis of other people’s analyses of the Larry Summers saga.

New Economics Perspectives has the post Galbraith’s Post-Mortem on the Summers Drama by Dan Kervick.

Is Summers history’s greatest monster? No. But he had his shot on the historical stage. He put his large, assertive stamp on an era of market fundamentalism and deregulation, and helped build a system that collapsed catastrophically in 2007 and 2008, and has left deep, damaging craters in the social landscape forged both before the collapse and in the aftermath. The philosophy of the Summers era has been revealed to be a key contributing cause of the many social and economic problems we now face. That’s why it was time for Summers and the other votaries of the neoliberal god that failed to move aside.

The article on which Dan Kervick is commenting is from The Los Angeles Times Obama’s Fed drama by James K. Galbraith.

In his book “The Escape Artists,” Noam Scheiber portrayed Summers as a force for restraint in the 2009 stimulus debates. That too cost him — unfairly — some liberal support. It now seems clear that he was a strong advocate of expansionist policies, though with tactical reservations that muddied the view from outside. On the other hand, there were esoteric matters relating to the bailouts — the Summers-Timothy Geithner toxic-assets plan for the big banks, for example — that might have brought deserved criticism had they been better understood.
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So the battle was symbolic, a fight of outsiders against insiders, of Wall Street allies against regulators, prosecutors, women and populists.

Neither Summers nor Yellen played any visible role in it; they appeared as observers, while the battle blew around them. For my part, not least since my views don’t matter, I ducked a few invitations to join in. This was partly personal: My rare exchanges with Summers have been cordial, and I owe him for acts of grace in 2006, at the end of his Harvard presidency, when my father died.

By the time I step in here I am commenting on Dan Kervick’s comments on James Galbraith’s comments on Noam Scheiber.  This might be a little like the telephone game (or gossip game), where you whisper something into the ear of one person in a long line, and that person whispers it to the next.  When the item gets told out loud by the last person in line, it has limited resemblance to what went it.

Do you want to join the line?

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