Comments: Keep On Screaming About Larry Summers

Screaming about Larry Summers is, at best, therapy for the screamers. Obama is a centrist and believes in the "wisdom" of expertise, no matter how thin, and in the benefits of experience, no matter how unsuccessful or harmful.
He's an insider and will appoint fellow insiders. What we will get is the Washington version of musical chairs, not change.

Posted by donescobar at November 8, 2008 01:36 PM

Can somebody who was around for Volcker tell me if Volcker would actually be any better than Summers, since he seems to be the inevitable alternative short of another Government Sachs guy like Rubin?

Cuz all I know is Greider's complaints about his jacking up interest rates and inducing the 1980 recession to kill inflation, and Volcker's report on the Oil For Food "scandal", which was, I thought, surprisingly honest, in so far as it basically said everything I'd been saying and confirmed my own biases, which is of course the golden standard for objective truth.

Posted by buermann at November 8, 2008 02:22 PM

...the last two decades have seen more progress in improving the human condition globally than any two-decade period in human history. That that is there in the most concrete manifestations of the things that are most important to people: the fraction of their children who die before the age of five, the fraction of their children who learn to read, the fraction of children who lose their mother due to dread disease, the fraction of young girls around the world who are forced into child prostitution.

Is that true?

Posted by cemmcs at November 8, 2008 03:19 PM

Just regarding infant mortality:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/bookshelf/br.fcgi?book=dmssa&part=A143&rendertype=table&id=A148

"Declines in infant mortality rates in Sub-Saharan Africa started to slow down considerably in the 1990s. These slow declines have meant that Sub-Saharan Africa has lagged more and more behind other regions and hence the mortality gap has widened."

Posted by Alaya at November 8, 2008 04:58 PM

Appointing the arsonist who burned down the city as the new fire commissioner makes more sense then appointing someone responsible enough for our current financial situation to the Secretary of the Treasury. For the arsonist to e successful it would require intimate knowledge of weakness of the cities fire protection systems so that they can be exploited. This person would know what to fix. In contrast the people who are responsible for our current mess made it by accident because of ignorance not an in depth knowledge of how to cripple our financial institutions. A more apt analogy would be replacing the fire commissioner with the city engineer who decided that the city didn't need a hydrant system because the sprinklers could handle most fires.

I'm also not convinced that the Secretary of Treasury will be the most important economic position in the country over the entirety of the next four years. Other people like the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank Board, or the Secretary of Commerce, two name two out of dozens of possible positions, may be the most important economic position over the next four years. The Secretary of the Treasury may be important for the next few months but after that it could keep or it could very well loose its importance depending of the specifics of what happens. Listening, watching, and reading most of the media I observe seams to assume that the Secretary of the Treasury will be the most important poison in President Obama's cabinet over his entire administration.

Posted by Benjamin A. Schwab at November 8, 2008 05:33 PM

The last two decades have seen more progress in improving the human condition globally than any two-decade period in human history.

Of course this is true and Summers is absolutely correct. It's happened in India and China (about 2.5 billion people) plus a few other countries.

It's fair to point out that Africa hasn't done nearly as well. And it's fair to argue that the success of India and China wasn't due to "Washington Consensus" policies. But to deny the basic fact that there's been a tremendous and unprecedented improvement in the living standards of half the world's population is at best delusional.

Posted by Ragout at November 8, 2008 07:45 PM

@Ragout: Your tone is pretty harsh considering that no one here has denied it, only asked the question.

Since it is a basic and apparently obvious fact to you, can you suggest some good sources of data that back the claim?

Posted by Nell at November 8, 2008 09:47 PM

No one here has denied it

And as I'm typing my response, the author of the original post jumps in to repeat his delusional claim. He denies that "the last two decades have seen more progress in improving the human condition globally than any two-decade period in human history." I've provided a link to a data source that supports Summer's claim. I don't suppose I can hope for anything similar from Jonathan Schwarz?

Posted by Ragout at November 9, 2008 01:23 AM
the author of the original post jumps in to repeat his delusional claim

Uh huh. How can Scott Ritter repeat his delusional claim that the IAEA didn't confirm in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program?

Anyway, it's nice of you to come visit from 2003, Ragout. You may be surprised to find how much things have changed around here in the past five years.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at November 9, 2008 01:52 AM

Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program?

I'd defend myself, but I have no idea what you're talking about. Your link doesn't quote me as saying anything about Iraq. I am flattered that you still remember my comments from 2003.

Posted by Ragout at November 9, 2008 02:02 AM
I have no idea what you're talking about.

No, I'm sure you don't.

Yes, when criticizing a reporter who accused some Israeli soldiers of wantonly killing some Palestinian stone-throwers, I pointed out that the very same reporter had quoted a Palestinian man -- Nezzar Rayan -- who encouraged his children to become martyrs. How is this relevant?

Yes, when criticizing a reporter who accused some Soviet soldiers of wantonly killing some Afghan stone-throwers, I pointed out that the very same reporter had quoted an Afghan man who encouraged his children to become martyrs. How is this relevant?

Just curious about the moral universe you live in, comrade.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at November 9, 2008 08:33 AM

Just curious about the moral universe you live in, comrade.

I place a high value on figuring out how to extend the spectacular successes of India and China to other poor countries. You, however, seem to enjoy lying about people who cite well-documented facts that run counter to your ideology. But I'm glad that you're so easy to bait into intemperate remarks. You're pretty funny when you're sputtering nonsense.

Posted by Ragout at November 9, 2008 11:48 AM
I place a high value on figuring out how to extend the spectacular successes of India and China to other poor countries

Of course you do. I'm sure you sit every day in your office at the IMF, wondering why it's precisely the areas over which you and the US Treasury department have the least power that have made the most human progress. Will this perplexing mystery ever be solved?

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at November 9, 2008 12:41 PM

Obama doesn't care what you think about his advisors. Why can't people understand that? What are you going to do if he displeases you by appointing Summers? Nothing. If you were cowardly enough to vote for him this time you'll vote for him next time. He doesn't pick these people by accident. He didn't support the bailout because he thought it was politically helpful. He did it because his paymasters demand that money. He does what his creators tell him.

Posted by Marcus at November 9, 2008 02:30 PM

The time for signing petitions and making phone calls to La Nan is long since past. There's only two things your political masters want - money and votes. Only pwoggies and freepers give these things away without first making a demand.

Posted by AlanSmithee at November 10, 2008 02:05 PM

AlanSmithee: Ended up with a Blackman for prez, a DEFINATE PROGRESSIVE WIN. What'd YOU guys get? (hey! EVEN the repugs TRIED to get a WOMAN in the WH, so good luck to U and URs on that kind of pwogwessiveness NEXT time)

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 10, 2008 05:10 PM