The man who probably more so than anyone else can be singled out as the person (behind the scenes) responsible for the destruction of America, first with his successful drubbing of every vestige of regulation, then his isolation of Brooksley Born and her all too prescient concerns on structured products and derivatives, and finally, with carrying over his debilitating management practices from Harvard over to the US in general for the past two years, just had his farewell speech, which in typical fashion can be summarized as follows: "I am smarter than you peasants, go to hell." For a more official summary of his valedictory, here is WaPo's Dana Milbank: "Summers's final performance was very much in character. He arrived 10 minutes late for the speech, his suit jacket open, his shirt pulling tightly at the buttons, his suitpants stained on one of the knees. His hair showed signs of bedhead, but it could have been mussed by Summers during one of his morning meetings. He jiggled his legs while listening to the introduction by EPI President Larry Mishel, who had some edgy words for his guest. Although both men grew up in Philly, Mishel said, "when he moved to Boston, he adopted the Boston Red Sox as his baseball team. Me? I'm still a fan of the Fightin' Phils." Summers rushed to rebut this point - by insulting the home team. "If I lived in Washington, I might still be a Phillies fan, too." There were groans in the audience." And of course, it is not like it was Summers fault for doing anything to bring unemployment down even as total US debt under his watch increased by over $2 trillion: "On Monday morning, he went to the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank, to give his "perspectives on the past two years." But in his remarks, he spoke of not a single wrong decision he made." So now that the disastrous, and hopefully final, reign of this distant Tatooine descendant is over, here are the three finalist to fill his extra wide chair, two of whom promise to do absolutely nothing to break Wall Street's stranglehold over the White House, and thus increase the odds for a widespread populist mutiny with each passing day.
From the Huffington Post:
As Larry Summers nears the end of his term as director of the National Economic Council, the list of potential replacements has been whittled down to three, according to Obama administration officials familiar with the deliberations: Treasury adviser Gene Sperling, Wall Street banker Roger Altman and Yale president Richard Levin.
The three represent a range of ideologies, from sympathy for Wall Street to vigilant consumer protection. At this critical point in the economic debate, the president's choice will send a powerful signal about the administration's leanings. If it's Sperling or Altman, critics say, the country can likely expect a continuation of a Wall Street-sympathetic approach to policy for the next two years.
The stakes are high, both for how the administration is perceived and how it determines policy. As Peter Orszag, Obama's former director of the Office of Management and Budget, has taken a senior position at Citigroup, pundits like Joe Klein and Jim Fallows are griping about the government's ties to Wall Street.
"This move only reinforces my growing sense that the Democratic party has to pry control of its economic policy away from the Wall Street caucus -- the Rubin, Summers, Geithner, Rattner and now Orszag etc. gang," Klein writes.
And while it is obvious that hiring former Wall Streeters to replace the DE Shaw man will do nothing to boost the middle-class' chances of survival, going the university route will likely be an abysmal failure as well (just ask Harvard's endowment fund):
While it's difficult to say how assertive Levin would be as NEC director, his views make him stand out from the pack. As HuffPost has reported, his appointment would signal a departure from previous administration policies, a move toward the Elizabeth Warren camp of tight Wall Street regulation and proactive job-creation.
Of course, our money is on Sperling: after all he is Goldman's guy, and Goldman is in dire need of replacing its agents in the administration. After all, it took Jan Hatzius almost one year to get heard over the din and start dictating US fiscal and monetary policy. We are confident Goldman will want a faster turnaround the next time it determines a change in policy is required.
Sperling has made his share of Wall Street cash. Before becoming adviser to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, he did time at Goldman Sachs. The year before taking office, he reportedly earned nearly $900,000 as a Goldman consultant.
In other words, the more things are about to change, the more they will stay the same. Anyone hoping that the new NEC director will be an improvement on Summers will be sorely disappointed, as the prerogative remains sternly the same: steal as much money from the middle class, as fast as possible. Still, the one man who is probably angriest of all is Mark Zandi: the completely irrelevant Moody's man, whose head has only occasionally emerged from within the administration's gluteus maximus in the past year, must be shaking in abject futility as he realizes all that hosannas of the Obama economic miracle have been for nothing.