Saturday, July 30, 2016

Larry Summers in Puffed Profile at The Crimson

I just came across this 2014 puff piece ion Larry Summers in The Crimson.

It appears yet another effort to clean up the Summers' image--possibly to make him eligible for future "public service." Perhaps Summers will end up in a Hillary Administration if she wins in November?

Of note, there is no mention of the insane Summers instigated derivates' positions taken by the Harvard endowment that resulted in billions in losses. Or the fact that Iris Mack warned him about the positions before they blew up and she was fired,

The left, by the way, hates this guy. He has elitist establishment protection only.

The evidence of this lefty venom comes in the first comment to the piece by one "Nancy Morris."
The most interesting aspects of this article are things it does not mention at all. Were those topics explicitly disallowed by the ground rules to this absurd puff piece (er, I mean, "interview")?

When Professor Summers is ridin' round the world and he's doin' this and he's signing that and he's tryin' to make some flight, how many of those efforts are directed at raising funds for his "home," Harvard, the World's Wealthiest University®? When The President became again The Professor (pacem Gilligan), he said he would continue to assist in ongoing fundraising efforts, but there appears to be no evidence he has done so. Fundraising for Obama? Yes. For "'home?" No evidence. Was all of that "not for attribution?"

What, if any, responsibility does Professor Summers accept for meddling in the management of the endowment during his term as president, including the notorious "Summers Collar," which cost Harvard, the World's Wealthiest University®, well north of a billion dollars to unwind? The Professor has in the past absurdly waved away such things, claiming that when his Allston dream collapsed its financing structure should have been promptly unwound. Others have answered his claim, and there is not room in this comment to rehearse the whole thing. But there was plenty of room in this interminable article to do so.

And who except The Mindless Ones at the Crimson and The Professor himself could forget his insistence that the liquidity fund be folded into the huge illiquid general endowment, nearly resulting in the need for his "home" to file in Chapter 11 as it discovered its looming inability to pay its debts as they came due in the aftermath of the bankruptcy of Lehman, another institution whose financial failure was unthinkable. Those debts were only satisfied with the proceeds of desperate loans taken out on confiscatory terms, resulting in many more hundreds of millions in losses by that "home." How about all those numerous, huge and wildly risky currency bets The Professor (then, The President) called Mr. Meyer to have the endowment place on a regular basis? The international currency markets are the casinos of the very rich, and Harvard, the World's Wealthiest University® bet (and paid!) it's rent money there just as surely as any woman with hair curlers and a brown lunch bag is doing the same in Atlantic City right now. On a properly risk-adjusted basis, the endowment returns became paltry long before the financial crisis, and The Professor had much to do with that.

We get some consoling, partisan words from Benedict Gross, a "close friend" who The Professor elevated to Dean of the College. But there is no mention that this "friendship" was born and existed almost entirely on the tennis courts both men enjoy so regularly. Gross is a number theorist who at the time he was appointed to his Deanship had not one iota of administrative experience beyond having been Chair of the mathematics department (a rotating position every professor in the department eventually assumes). In other words: A personal crony. Was it not worth a question of The Professor regarding why he saw fit to place the College in the tender mercies of such a man? How about an assessment of Gross' own term in office?

But Larry chose well, from Larry's perspective! Dick exhibits his lasting loyalty to Larry by recalling the nasty attitudes and bearings of those determined to oust Summers. Somehow the far nastier and more questionable behavior of Summers and many of his supporters seems to have just dropped down the Summers/Gross memory hole. For example, there was the extensive whisper campaign insinuating that hostility to Summers was bottomed on antisemitism. When asked about this effort made on his behalf, "Larry" offered only the wan response that he was not personally aware of such discrimination. But he did not denounce the effort or make any serious effort to discredit it, and the whisper campaign remains a factor to this day. And how about asking The Professor of his regular manipulation of his many contacts in the media to assail his critics at "home?" Summers may deny it, but surely Professors West and Gates haven't forgot the sudden uptick in media interest in their textbook publishing deals that occurred after they chose to do battle with Summers. Did anyone bother to talk to them?

Also missing from this article is any hint that Professor Lawrence Summers has in any way forgiven his critics or made the slightest effort at reconciliation with any of them. Has there been a single call to his successor offering to work with her to help Harvard, the World's Wealthiest University® patch up the damage and move on?

Apparently not. Or was all that also ruled out by the interview ground rules? The word is: small. Larry Summers is small.

Note to The Professor: When your employer unceremoniously tosses you from office in a huge cloud of acrimony, it's generally better for all concerned just to leave "home," go out on your own, try to patch things up from a safe distance and save what you can. This article is mostly evidence that you haven't mastered the basics.
I hope "Nancy" teaches creeative writing at Harvard, she's good.


1 comment:

  1. Everyone talks about Larry's Harvard debacle. I'll always associate him with a little something known as Gibson's Paradox, and the bailout of the Mexican Peso during the Clinton years.

    Can't prove anything, but that's what I'll remember about Larry.