Larry Summers's Post-White House Prospects

Back to Harvard, or off to a lucrative Wall Street gig?

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On Tuesday, an article by The Atlantic's Josh Green got pundits talking about Larry Summers's future. Summers is reportedly "frustrated" at his post of director of the National Economic Council. He feels overshadowed by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and wants out. “I think Summers is going to leave sooner rather than later, possibly before the mid-term elections and if not then, soon afterward," Green writes. While Summers's fate isn't yet assured, political bloggers wonder where Summers might go post-White House. Here are the leading conjectures:

  • He's Got a Few Options, writes Josh Green at The Atlantic: "Fed chairman is out of the question, and contra the periodic blogger hyperbole, Geithner seems ever more secure at Treasury. A university presidency isn't going to happen. So a return to Harvard, Wall Street consulting and an FT column might be the likeliest option."
  • Whatever He Does—It's Going to Be Lucrative, writes Felix Salmon at Reuters:

My feeling is that Harvard is likely, but the FT column is less so: it always seemed to me like a long-form job application aimed at whomever was going to win the Democratic nomination.

And “Wall Street consulting” is probably a polite way of saying “a return to DE Shaw”, which happily paid Larry $5 million for one year of one-day-a-week work, and would surely cough up much more if he gave them the opportunity and a greater time commitment. ...

The Summers exit could well be the most lucrative use of the revolving door yet seen in the short history of the Obama administration: if he was willing to work full time, Summers could command significantly more than the $10 million a year Citigroup paid Bob Rubin when Rubin left Treasury.

  • Family Time or Harvard  The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder writes: "Summers has a Harvard University professorship waiting for him, a family that did not move to D.C., and it would not be surprising, nor terribly controversial, if, in some precincts of his own mind, he had begun to think about his post-White House life. He has, in fact, had discussions about his future with some of his associates."
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