Public Citizen and Essential Information Highlight Summers’ Troubling Record
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Aghast at the idea that President Barack Obama is considering nominating Lawrence Summers to be president of the World Bank, Public Citizen and Essential Information have launched ForgetLarry.Org, a website urging Obama not to pick Summers to head the World Bank.
“The World Bank is the most important economic development institution in the world, and who runs the World Bank is a big deal. It should not be Larry Summers,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman.
Although the World Bank serves poor countries around the world, the United States traditionally picks the Bank’s president and has always appointed an American to the post.ForgetLarry.org cites Summers’s troubling record in government and in the private sector as discrediting him for the World Bank post.
As chief economist at the World Bank, Summers issued a 1991 internal memorandum that argued for the transfer of waste and dirty industries from industrialized to developing countries. “Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs (lesser developed countries)?” Summers wrote.
“That kind of logic has guided World Bank policy for decades, as it has pushed deregulation, privatization and corporate globalization – with horrific results,” Weissman said. “The World Bank needs as its leader someone who categorically rejects this way of thinking.”
As Deputy Secretary and then Secretary of the Clinton administration Treasury Department, Summers helped lead the deregulatory charge that enabled the financial crash of 2008 and the Great Recession. Among his notable achievements was stifling the efforts of Brooksley Born, then head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, to investigate and regulate the trade in financial derivatives. The trade in unregulated financial derivatives amplified the financial crisis far beyond the unavoidable troubles connected to the popping of the housing bubble.
“In recent decades, blind financial deregulation has contributed to a long series of financial crises with absolutely catastrophic results in developing countries. The World Bank does not need a financial deregulator as its leader,” said Weissman.
As Harvard University president, Summers offended vast portions of the faculty. He also provoked a firestorm with comments suggesting that innate differences helped explain why relatively few women have top scientific positions. Summers’s rancorous relations with faculty and his penchant for brutal and blunt public comments led him to resign as president of Harvard.
“Effectively running the World Bank requires managing a vast bureaucracy and dealing sensitively with diverse global constituencies. The job requires finesse, about the last word anyone would use to describe Summers,” said Weissman.
ForgetLarry.org urges citizens to sign a petition telling Obama that he can do better than Larry Summers to head the World Bank. The petition currently has nearly 14,000 signatures.