You just can’t get rid of zombie Larry Summers. He can get drummed out of Harvard. He can see the deregulation policies he pushed in the Clinton Administration lead to a financial meltdown. He can preside over a sluggish economy for two years during the Obama Administration, after which Congress flips to the opposition. And he just keeps falling upwards.
President Barack Obama is considering nominating Lawrence Summers, his former National Economic Council director, to lead the World Bank when Robert Zoellick’s term expires later this year, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Summers has expressed his interest in the job to White House officials and has backers inside the administration, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the current NEC Director, Gene Sperling, said one of the people. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also being considered, along with other candidates, said the other person. Both spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.
There is literally nothing Larry Summers can do to get excommunicated from the ranks of the elite. That goes for most members of the ruling class, which, after all, rules.
Incidentally, Larry Summers has worked at the World Bank before as a vice president and chief economist. That’s where he signed off on a memo expressing support for having underdeveloped nations take pollution from the developed world:
‘Dirty’ Industries: Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Less Developed Countries]? [...]
The costs of pollution are likely to be non-linear as the initial increments of pollution probably have very low cost. I’ve always though that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City. Only the lamentable facts that so much pollution is generated by non-tradable industries (transport, electrical generation) and that the unit transport costs of solid waste are so high prevent world welfare enhancing trade in air pollution and waste.
As this page explains, the former Secretary of the Environment for Brazil, Jose Lutzenburger, responded to Summers by calling the memo “perfectly logical but totally insane” and saying that Summers exhibited “the unbelievable alienation, reductionist thinking, social ruthlessness and the arrogant ignorance of many conventional ‘economists’ concerning the nature of the world we live in.” For his part, after writing this letter, Lutzenberger was fired.
You cannot stop Larry Summers.
UPDATE: On the merits of this, Felix Salmon is right that Larry Summers shouldn’t come within 1,000 feet of any position that requires a diplomatic role.