Reuters blogger Felix Salmon brought the following interview with Larry Summers to my attention. In it, Summers proclaims himself a great defender of the environment, says that he was generally for greater financial regulation in the ’90s (seriously), and says that the documentary Inside Job, which blasted Summers for having close ties to Wall Street, “essentially had all its facts wrong.”
It takes a few minutes to get going, then becomes increasingly tense and fascinating as interviewer Krishnan Guru-Murthy starts to ask tougher questions. (I love the part where Summers accuses him of reading from “a couple articles brought to you by a researcher.” You can tell how pissed Summers is when he starts accusing you of not knowing what you’re talking about.)
The part about Inside Job, which comes near the end, is particularly fascinating in its disingenuousness. Summers says that Inside Job had its facts wrong because how could he have been corrupted by Wall Street buckraking when he never made any significant money from Wall Street until five years after he left the Clinton administration?
But unless I remember incorrectly, that’s not what Inside Job charges: Inside Job says that Summers was corrupted by the millions of dollars (8 of ‘em, I think) he received from hedge fund D.E. Shaw and Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs for, essentially, showing up and chewing the fat from time to time—and that this investment by Wall Street in Summers was repaid by its recipient when he went to work at the Obama White House and made it his mission to protect the interests of the big banks.
It’s a rather clumsy tactic on Summers’ part, and it shows, I think, that sometimes he really does think everyone is sadly and significantly less intelligent than he is (but in thinking so, he proves the opposite). Oh, I’ll just misstate the argument of Inside Job and that will take care of that….
So sayeth the brilliant economist.
The interview is fascinating—it’s about 18 minutes long, and well worth-watching.