Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Evolution of Larry Summers

The New York Times Sunday Magazine has a remarkably interesting profile of Larry Summers discussing the evolution of his thinking on economic matters but also touching on the development of his personality since his stint under Robert Rubin at the Treasury. Summers is an impressive intellect who, at 52 years of age, has accomplished more in three different careers than many talented people do in a lifetime.

Larry Summers's name has been in my memory ever since my undergraduate days when, always fond of trivia tidbits, I found out that he was the youngest tenured professor at Harvard, nephew of two Nobel Prize winners (Robert Samuelson and Kenneth Arrow) and the son of two Penn economics professors, Robert and Anita Summers. I admit to experiencing a tinge of genetic envy. As an aspiring PhD in economics at the time (a path never taken) I remember looking up to Larry Summers and Paul Krugman as inspirational young stars with exceptionally fine minds and a penchant for writing and arguing clearly, concisely and logically.

An aside: Paul Krugman's excellent writings on economic issues, accessible to laymen, are collected here and are well worth the read. I still recommend "In praise of cheap labor" (in the International Trade section of the site), particularly to knee-jerk opponents of globalization. Even though this piece was written in March 1997 and lot has changed since then, the fundamental argument for free trade in that essay still holds.

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