Weil on Finance: Huffpo Crows
Greetings, View fans. Now that the five-year anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ collapse has come and gone, it’s all Larry Summers all the time again. And he’s not even in the running to become Federal Reserve chairman anymore. Will Janet Yellen get the job? Someone else? On with the morning reads.
A good day for the Huffington Post
Ashley Alman included this not-so-subtle reminder in the HuffPo’s recap yesterday after Summers withdrew his name from consideration: “When rumors of a Summers nomination began to pick up in late July, Obama gave a `full-throated defense’ of the former secretary in a closed Senate meeting. A Democratic lawmaker at the meeting said the president ripped the Huffington Post for making Summers `a progressive whipping boy,’ telling Democrats `not to believe everything you read in The Huffington Post.’ ” I imagine Arianna Huffington will be telling that story at parties for years to come.
Is Yellen the champion progressives are looking for?
Lots of progressive/liberal groups had come out in opposition to Summers, including MoveOn.org, The Other 98%, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the National Organization for Women. Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, who had opposed Summers, yesterday said: “What the American people want now is a Fed chairman prepared to stand up to the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, not a Wall Street insider.” But is that really the kind of chairman Yellen would be? This seems like an impossible standard. She is the Fed’s vice chairman now. It’s hard to think of much the Fed has done to stand up to Wall Street while she has been there.
Ezra Klein, in his Wonkblog at the Washington Post, offers five reasons why Yellen would be a good pick. No. 5: “It’s time to shatter the glass ceiling.” No. 1: “She’d be the most qualified Federal Reserve chair in memory.” Separately, Jared Bernstein, who was Vice President Joe Biden’s chief economist, has a good piece in the New York Times about the characteristics he would look for in a new Fed chairman. At the top of the list, he says, the Fed needs a “bubble watcher.”
The Larry Summers column I’d most like to read
It would be by Summers himself. Until his letter yesterday withdrawing his name from consideration, he pretty much has gone dark the past few months. Just look at his website. He hasn’t written anything for the Financial Times since July. No tweets, either. He fancies himself as a writer. He should start writing again. Topic: What I did this past summer while trying to become the next Fed chairman.
OK, I’ll throw in a Lehman anniversary story, too
Gretchen Morgenson had a fine column Sunday about the wholesale funding market, also known as the repo market, which is the plumbing of the financial system. Five years after Lehman’s collapse, this is still “a $4.6 trillion arena operating on trust, which can disappear in an instant,” she writes.
(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)