Barack Obama’s chief economic advisor, the guy we’re all going to have to rely on to pull the economy out of the mess it is in, is Larry Summers. We cannot trust Larry Summers. He’s in the pocket of the people responsible for our problems.
Among the firms that paid Summers large amounts in speaking fees include J.P. Morgan Chase. That bank offered the former Harvard president and Treasury Secretary $67,500 for a February 1, 2008 engagement. It has received $25 billion in government bailout funds.
Citigroup, which has received $50 billion in taxpayer help, paid Summers $45,000 for a speech in March 2008 and another $54,000 for a speech that May.
Goldman Sachs, which has received $10 million in bailout funds, paid Summers $135,000 for a speech on April 16, 2008 and another $67,500 for a speech on June 18, 2008.
Summers also received about $5.2 million over the past year in salary from the major hedge fund D.E. Shaw.
I know whose side Larry Summers is on, and it isn’t the middle class or the poor.
Another question: what does a $135,000 speech sound like? I come from an academic background, where we fairly routinely bring in scientists to give lectures and spend a day talking with colleagues, and it’s fairly dense stuff, with lots of information. We generally pay travel costs (of course) and an honorarium of a few hundred to a thousand dollars. It’s very good value for the money. There are popular heavy-hitters like Richard Dawkins who can get $10,000 for a talk, but even there they may waive the fee, as we saw in Oklahoma, and even so, they can pack an auditorium with thousands of people who want to hear what they have to say.
Would thousands of people line up to buy tickets to hear Larry Summers speak? Does he really have the kind of significant information to transmit that would be worth a hundred thousand dollars for an hour of time? If so, I’d like to know more about these kinds of valuable speeches, because I’d love to pay off my entire mortgage with an afternoon’s work.
Of course, we all know that these speeches are irrelevant. It’s a way for organizations with a lot of power and money to funnel cash to individuals with a lot of influence in government…i.e., it’s a form of corruption, a kind of bribe. Even if it’s nominally legal, I hope Obama is smart enough to kick this shill for the financial empires off of his advisory team.
Glenn Greenwald has more to say on Summers. He calls the payoffs an “advanced bribe”.