‘Fearful Pig’ is resigning as the President

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Paul Krugman once noted the late economist Dornbusch classified economists, depending on their research style; "Goldsmiths" were careful, meticulous workers - which Rudi admired. "Pigs" just sort of jumped into an issue and wallowed around. But that was OK too, if it was done with sufficient vigor and originality. Rudi described Larry Summers as a "fearful pig" - and it was a compliment.

Now in a letter to the Harvard community Summers has declared his intention to resign as the President of the Harvard University. It will be a great loss for the university.

In an interesting profile of Summers in the NYT, James Traub wrote;
“Summers may well have the densest collection of economist genes of any man alive.. Both of his parents are economists. And Paul Samuelson, his father's brother, and Kenneth Arrow, his mother's brother, each won a Nobel Prize for economics…Summers does not find his own background a terribly interesting subject, and the question struck him as overly deterministic, but he did recall that if the family -- he has two brothers -- was stuck in traffic, one of his parents might ask, ''If there was one more lane, would that eliminate the traffic jam or simply increase the number of drivers who used the road?'' One of the Summers-haters told me he had heard that the family rated sunsets, but Summers said that that was a game his father played with Summers's children (no doubt fostering a third generation of economists).”

He became notorious among the NGOs during his tenure as the Chief Economist at World Bank for one his memos that was leaked; ''I've always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly underpolluted,'' Summers wrote. He suggested that the World Bank encourage ''more migration of the dirty industries'' to less developed nations. (Note the link is not to a World Bank site).

Later in 2001, Summers attacked the World Bank’s rhetoric of ‘empowerment’, referring that greater participation doesn’t necessarily lead to improve decision making. The best route to successful development lay in rigorous analysis, not participatory waffle. The Bank should promote environmental standards when hardheaded cost-benefit analysis suggested this made sense; it should not pursue environmentalism in the blanket, NGO-appeasing way laid down by the safeguards. Striving to be politically correct would only strengthen the forces of political correction. (Sebastian Mallaby, The World’s Banker, p.297).

Here is link to a video lecture of Summers talking about development lessons from his experience- a must see for any student of economic development.

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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on February 23, 2006 12:48 AM.

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