Larry Summers: At heart, a Wall Street guy

By Laurie Bennett

September 17, 2013 at 7:57am

The post-game analysis on Larry Summers’ withdrawal from consideration for Fed chair: He showed his allegiances when he left the Obama administration in 2010 and quickly returned to Wall Street.

Summers is a consultant to a slew of financial companies, including Citigroup, D.E. Shaw, Nasdaq OMX, Alliance Partners and Andreessen Horowitz. He sits on the boards of Lending Club, which makes personal loans, and Square, which handles mobile payments.

He reportedly took on these obligations with the understanding that he might leave to return to a government post - the long-coveted Fed chairmanship. Which is to say that he didn’t view the ties as a hindrance to getting the job.

One of his staunchest critics was Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has forged a political career out of opposing Wall Street excess and lax regulators. Warren and Summers share several ties - to the Obama administration, the Treasury and Harvard - but their philosophies on who needs protecting in the current economy couldn’t be more dissimilar.

“I think we have different world views,” Warren told Charlie Rose in 2010.

It wasn’t so long ago, as head of the National Economic Council, that Summers was seen as blocking Warren’s bid to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Now Warren holds a position on the Senate Banking Committee, which has to approve the president’s nominee for Fed chairman. As many as four other Democrats on the panel were said to oppose Summers.

On Monday, during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Warren repeated her support for Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen.

“Janet Yellen will, I hope, make a terrific Federal Reserve chair and I hope she is nominated,” Warren said. “She has great experience and great judgment.”

Declaring the outcome “Warren’s revenge” might be a bit overstated, as she was certainly not the only Democrat standing in Summers’ way. Nevertheless, it’s been a good week for the Warren/Yellen camp.

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