27 August 2008

This month's Harvard Magazine has an interesting article by Larry Summers about the economic challenges facing the next president. I've always wondered why the Clinton economic team was so successful, and this article helps explain why: Summers is pragmatic, nuanced, and open to changing positions as the facts warrant. In particular, he seems much more concerned with income inequality than I would have expected him to be (he even promotes universal health care as one way of combatting it), and his views on free trade agreements and globalization seem to have evolved, as he now favors negotiating international corporate taxation and labor standards.

Of course, he's still Larry Summers, so he has to say something that is capable of generating a lot of smoke. This time, it's advocating against a reduction in energy prices (on environmental grounds): "with the economy getting used to far higher energy prices...it would be a great tragedy if prices were allowed to decline very sharply when the current crisis passes." Ouch. Something tells me that quote will resurface if he ever gets appointed to anything.

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