No, Larry Summers Should Not Be the New Fed Chairman

A blog about business and economics.
May 27 2013 8:12 AM

Don't Make Larry Summers Chairman of the Federal Reserve—Bernanke, Yellen, and Romer Are the Choices

143770606
Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers speaks during a discussion about tax codes and revenue hosted by the Brookings Institute on May 3, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Ed Luce, the Financial Times columnist and former speechwriter for former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers says Summers ought to be the next Federal Reserve chairman.

I say: No.

Advertisement

That's nothing against Summers. But you start with the fact that one logical choice is to reappoint Ben Bernanke for another term. Failing that, the overwhelmingly obvious choice is Janet Yellen. She is eminently qualified and very well regarded. The reason to go with another choice is that Yellen and Bernanke are choices of continuity, and perhaps the Obama administration wants to make a clean break with the past. That's a pretty good idea in my view, and the person to do it would be Christina Romer, who's specifically called for a clean break with the past.

Summers is stuck in the middle. His publicly stated views on monetary policy make him seem like he'd be a continuity candidate, but he can't beat Yellen for continuity. Bringing in someone who's never served on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors would be an outsider choice, but Summers doesn't seem to have outsiders' views. Obama should, of course, look at a range of candidates. But I do think that Yellen as the continuity choice and Romer as the change choice essentially exhaust the reasonable universe of choices. And there's no indication that Obama wants change. And if he doesn't want change, the sensible thing to do is to ask Bernanke to do a third term and if Bernanke says "no" to tap Yellen. Taking a pass on the opportunity to appoint the first woman to run a major central bank in favor of the guy who said women don't succeed in academia because math is too hard for them would be terrible, and it's difficult to think of a persuasive reason to do it.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.