Monday, April 26, 2010

Larry Summers unites the left and the right :)

In graduate school, a professor once remarked that on some issues, if you go far enough, the left and the right will agree.  Yet again, he was proven right--in this case with Larry Summers.  Both the leftist Nation and the libertarian Reason have labeled Summers a liar, and for the same stuff he said.
The context is this PBS interview with Summers

According to the Nation: " Larry Summers is a clumsy public liar."  There, as simple as that!  Well, there is more than that:

Summers's claims about what caused the banking crisis were, likewise, aggressively misleading to plain deceitful. "Regulators didn't have the specific mandate for the consumer." Wrong. The Federal Reserve and other agencies had plenty of legal authority to protect consumers. They chose not to use it. Their dereliction actually occurred on Summers's watch, when he himself was Treasury secretary under Bill Clinton.
"Regulators didn't have authority in a comprehensive way to monitor the derivatives market." This is a flaming lie. The principal regulatory agency--the Commodity Futures Regulatory Commission--was actually preparing to impose stricter oversight on derivatives in the late 1990s when Larry Summers stopped it. Summers and Republican allies intervened in 2000 with legislation that castrated that agency and prohibited it from acting further. Derivatives exploded thereafter.
When Summers was finally asked about his own responsibility for encouraging the dangerous financial instruments, he responded with a mouthful of double talk. "You know, the situation's changed hugely.... So people were actually focused on a very different set of issues." Summers even tried to make it sound like he personally had wanted to tighten the oversight, but was blocked by "Congressional opposition."
Liar, liar, pants on fire.
Ok, that is from the left.  Next up, from the libertarian perspective, here is Reason:

More serious than Summers' well established habit of citing a fake consensus of experts to support his claims is that these comments embarrass an administration that is trying to promote the fiction that it is seriously interested in ending bailouts for gigantic banks. It might make intuitive sense that regulators would rather deal with a few big, identical institutions than with many diverse ones, but that's not the story the Democrats are using to sell their financial reform plan. So between Thursday and yesterday, somebody must have found a woodshed big enough to take Summers out to. Here's what he had to say on one of the Sunday talk shows:
"We must end too big to fail," he said on Face the Nation. "There is no one associated with the White House who believes "too big to fail" is acceptable, or that it's acceptable for financial institutions to rely on a bailout."
Glad that's squared away.
You can understand why I like these: After all, I identify myself as a libertarian Democrat :)

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