American Economist and Politician
Lawrence Henry “Larry” Summers (born November 30, 1954) is an American economist who is President Emeritus and Charles W. Eliot University Professor of Harvard University.
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 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.”
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 after pushback from the left, Obama eventually nominated Federal Reserve Vice-Chairwoman Janet Yellen for the position.