“If you came up with 10 words to describe Larry, coordination and collaboration would not be two,” says one person requesting anonymity who has worked with Summers extensively and admires his intellectual force.What I didn't like about the article is Hunt's assertion that Summer's isn't good at public communication. As I've mentioned, Summers is actually great to have on TV b/c he's relatively quick-witted, and is an old, white alpha-male who looks and talks like a conservative. Hence, he is likely to be popular with other middle-aged white males -- a demographic which Democrats very much need to appeal to. He's correct that Geithner isn't great on TV, at least the times I've seen him. Geithner is too obviously beta male -- he talks too fast, makes nervous movements, looks nervous, etc...
What Obama should have done is made Larry Summers the CEA Chair, only not listen to him much (like he is w/ C. Romer), but have Stiglitz working as a top behind-the-scenes adviser as someone who makes policy but doesn't have a fancy job title or appear on Sunday talk shows.
What's also annoying about the Hunt piece is that he cannot correctly identify any of the admins economic blunders:
"The vaunted economic team is faulted for poor coordination, drawing even the president’s ire, and an inability to convey an overarching policy."As Brad DeLong points out, Hunt doesn't really offer any evidence of this.
The administration's three main economic policy errors are: 1) Pushing a stimulus which was too small, 2) Re-appointing Ben Bernanke, 3) being too soft on the banks/softpedaling financial regs/not doing something more comprehensive on executive/financial industry pay while it would have been easy to do so.
Brad also mentions Obama has yet to make appointments for two vacant Fed governorships... that's really dropping the ball given how critical it is for the Democratic Party that we not have unemployment above 9% next November... It would be nice to see someone like Joe Gagnon in there! I actually suspect that Bernanke is likely to be quite impressionable, and that if two solid, strong-minded economists were appointed who pushed for more QE, Bernanke might well consider it.