Sunday, April 5, 2009

Being Larry Summers

Larry Summers was a private citizen and not an adviser to President Obama last year when he accepted big fees from companies that received TARP funds, including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and JP Morgan. Summers also received some $5.2 million last year from D.E. Shaw, a major Hedge Fund. While receiving such payment is not illegal, does this pass the smell test?

Below is a list of companies from which Summers received speaking engagement fees over last year. Can Summers be an impartial adviser to the President? Could speeches in and of themselves in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, unduly influence an adviser? While Summers was not an official White House adviser, he was nonetheless an adviser to the then President-elect Obama.

Skagen Funds, $60,300, (1/9/2008)

Skagen Funds, $60,300, (1/10/2008)

Skagen Funds, $59,400, (1/11/2008)

JP Morgan, $67,500, (2/1/2008)

Itinera Institute, $62,876 (1/8/2008)

Citigroup, $45,000 (3/3/2008)

Goldman Sachs Co., $135,000, (4/16/2008)

Associon de Bancos de Mexico, $90,000, (4/3/2008)

Lehman Brothers, $67,500, (4/17/2008)

State Street Corporation, $45,000, (4/18/2008)

Siguler Guff & Company, $67,500, (5/7/2008)

Hudson Institute, $10,000, (05/28/2008)

Citigroup, $54,000, (5/30/2008)

Investec Bank, $157,500, (6/13/2008)

Goldman Sachs, $67,500, (6/18/2008)

Lehman Brothers, $67,500, (7/30/2008)

Tata Consultance Services, $67,500, (9/21/2008)

State Street Corporation, $112,500, (10/2/2008)

McKinsey and Company, $135,000, (10/19/2008)

Charles River Ventures LLC, $67,500, (11/112008)

Pricewaterhouse Coopers, $67,500 (9/9/2008)

American Chamber of Commerce In Argentina, $135,000 (10/7/2008)

American Express, $67,500 (5/7/2008)

Is this change we can believe in? Is it unrealistic to think that change can occur in Washington among all of its players? If not is it not much to askt that change occur around those closest to the President? This has been my concern with Timothy Geithner and his policies as the former President of the New York Fed and Larry Summers with his role in deregulation under President Clinton.


allen said...

Would you feel better about Summers if his speaking fees were a flat 60 dollars plus half the take at the door?
Maybe we should get Carrot Top to advise the President. :-)

judith ellis said...

Funny, allen! Hey, I haven't heard much about Carrot Top these days. What's up with him? I used to like his very quirky comedy. But does Summers fees as it relates to big banking business that required bailout not concern you at all? Of course, you well know that my concern with both Summers and Geithner extend well beyond any fees.

I am most concerned about Summers and Geithner's past actions that assisted in this financial global crisis and their current apparent lopsided take on banks and AIG versus the car industry. The numbers are so incredibly disproportionate. Some banks are simply insolvent. Citigroup may be one of these.

dave wheeler said...


I'm thinking that real change means new ideas. Bring on Carrot Top, or the Sandman, or better yet Chris Rock. Any member of this crew would be preferable and as capable of having an original thought than these same inside the Beltway players that both parties recycle. Where's the new ideas? Throwing money at programs that don't work is real change. Real change would be a living wage instead of a minimum one. Real change would be changing the tax structure to reward companies who implement "family friendly" polices and programs rather than to reward unions with legislation making it easier to unionize as a "payback" for political contributions. Companies always pass labor costs along to the consumer anyway so unions benefit service companies how again? Wages are stagnate enough as it is. How about a middle class "Task Force" that actually had middle class folks on it and instead of photo ops actually did something constructive?

judith ellis said...

I feel you, Dave! The opening literally made me laugh aloud.

dave wheeler said...


Richard Pryor and George Carlin are two comedians who have no peer in my opinion. Chris Rock is very close to that making that a trifecta of comedic excellence! If you know what makes folks in the clubs laugh, you know your know and can relate to what folks think in the community.

judith ellis said...

Yes, Dave. Pryor is definitely without peers and without doubt a favorite, not to mention my mom's first cousin. Believe me it runs in the family.

My mom had a sense of humor and ALL of my brothers are sooo very funny! We laugh for hours; they even make the congregation laugh on Sunday mornings. They are also quite thoughtful.

I love commedians for their ability to reveal truth in ways that are both pentrating and funny. The best reveal life and are very sharp. Jon Stewart's evisceration of CNBC analysts was classic.

dave wheeler said...


Comedians are indeed great communicators...that you and you family share the gift of laughter is terrific! Humor and the ability to laugh at one's self can bring down a lot of barriers.

I'm betting you have a wicked sense of humor Ms. Judith...fact or assumption?

judith ellis said...

Dave - I so agree with you about humor and the ability to laugh at ourselves. This is so VERY important. And, yes, it is definitely a fact: I have a most wicked sense of humor and am often leading the pack. :-)

dave wheeler said...


I knew it! The adjectives to describe your marvel-ocity are inadequate...You're terrific!

judith ellis said...

Funny, Dave! Thanks!