The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Why Larry Summers MUST Believe $2,000 Checks Are a Bad Idea

Larry Summers, the man who is reliably wrong about everything, came out against a $2,000 check for Covid release.

It’s worth examining why, because Larry is an economics exemplar, and what makes him different is not being wrong about almost everything, it is being willing to shoot his tweet off about it.

That chart indicates there is no problem: The economy is on course, and fine. A $2,000 check for everyone will “overheat” the economy.

Larry Summers, 2013

Larry Summers, 2013

There are three problems with this. The first is believing the numbers mean much of anything. Disposable income is one of the hardest things to calculate; there is a lot of guessing (called modeling) involved. We don’t actually know what everyone’s expenses are every month, and worse, we don’t know which ones they haven’t been keeping up on. If you give someone an extra $2,000, and they spend it on rent or paying down their credit card or student loans or mortgages, it turns out it wasn’t disposable income. Nor can you be sure what will happen to savings when you give someone a (small) cash windfall: They may save a fair bit of it. (The “marginal propensity to save may change to use econospeak.)

So +2,000 may not increase spending: We don’t know how much will go to savings and to debt repayment or other expenses.

The second thing is the idea that a one-time $2,000 windfall actually matters much. Even if it did all go to disposable income and get spent, so what? It’s a blip. Pricing and inflation decisions are made on longer term expectations, far more than on windfalls; if prices rise, they’ll fall back immediately. It’s a yawn.

The third is the great failing of neoliberal economics: A refusal to deal with distribution. Back on December 10th, a story claimed that 11.4 US households were $70 billion dollars behind on rent, averaging $5,000 each.

A story in November had the number of people behind on rent at 40 million.

The stories for people behind on mortgages and student and credit card loans are similar. More people are homeless, and so on.

Aggregate income is fine, in part because of UI extensions, but also because Covid has seen a redistribution of income and wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich.

Everyone’s not OK. Tens of millions of people are in a bad way. In California, something between 40 to 50 percent of small businesses are in danger of closing and when some of them (be optimistic, say half) do, those jobs will go away.

So, let’s go back to Summers. He sees an aggregate economic number known to be unreliable, and assumes that it is reliable in a pandemic. He assumes that people will spend all the money, thus “overheating” the economy, rather than using it to pay off debts (to people who probably are also in over their heads and thus will not be spending much) or saving it. And, he doesn’t take into account the fact that aggregate personal disposable income, even if accurate, is an aggregate figure. Or perhaps, being generous, he assumes UI and other programs catch it all (if they did, we wouldn’t have all those people near eviction or small businesses near bankruptcy).

Summers lives in an imaginary world. He lives inside models and statistics and assumes that, combined, they represent the world well. The statistics often don’t, the models are often garbage, but a man who has dedicated his life to neoliberal economics cannot, indeed must not, see that, because if he admitted it was true, his entire life would be based on a lie.

So, the numbers are fine, the models are fine, and giving people more money will overheat the economy. It must be so, or Summers is a fool who has wasted his life, however much money he may have made.

Indeed, if he were to go down that rabbit hole he might realize that he helped cause the financial crisis with securities deregulation and didn’t see the housing bubble and so on precisely because he believes nonsense models and facts. Which would mean he has done great harm, and that a reasonable person who didn’t believe a bunch of nonsense wouldn’t have done all that harm.

So, the numbers are fine, the models are fine, and people don’t need $2,000 checks.

(Aside: I am given to understand by a friend who knows Summers well, that he is in fact, in terms of raw processing power, brilliant. I note that raw processing power, as my friend Stirling Newberry once pointed out to me, just gets you to the wrong conclusion faster if you don’t have judgement.)

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Effects of the New 60 Percent More Infectious Covid Strain


Plus c’est la même chose


  1. GM

    Even if Summers truly believes what he says, at some level some people have to understand the redistributive aspect (always upwards) of neoliberalism and that it is all a lie propped up to justify the reversion to the Gilded Age and eventually perhaps to feudalism.

    It has been way too consistently pushed onto everyone for nobody to understands that.

    But if Summers is not amongst those people, then who is?

  2. When I hear of The Ivory Tower, when I hear of academic blue-bloods, Summers comes to mind. If memory serves parents, grandparents all famous academics, Nobel Laureates; he recognized amongst his peers – a group of people I am not unfamiliar with – as as brilliant as they. As Trump is an incredibly accurate caricature of your average “American” Larry Summers is your classic Ivory Tower Academic. Hasn’t got a clue what’s going on in the real world.

    As if economics were anything more than libertarian scientology, about as accurate as reading the bible, or chicken guts. An excuse looking for behavior to attach itself to.

  3. Blissex

    That is a somewhat unfair description because Summers makes an argument that is correct in the aggregate, but wrong at disaggregate level, and he even says why.

    * At some point aggregate GDP had fallen by 20% because of public health policy.

    * Therefore aggregate incomes (GDI) have to fall by 20% too, because that 20% fall in GDP is a fall in *potential* GDP, not a gap between actual and potential GDP.

    * But that 20% fall in GDI was because some people’s incomes had fallen by 100% and some other by 0%.

    * The “correct” policy would have been to compensate those whose income had fallen by 100% with 80% of their income, and to fund that by taxing 20% of the income of those whose income had fallen by 0%.

    * The “correct” solution is politically unfeasible because those whose income has fallen by 0% are probably the majority, or at least a block of voters that cannot be ignored.

    Summers’ argument seems to be that giving everybody $2,000 means giving too much to the majority who don’t need it, and means giving too little to the minority who suffered a much bigger fall in income than that, and whose unemployment insurance often was not available or usually was a small percentage of the income they lost.
    So what he is suggesting is giving a check only to those in sectors that have been shutdown by government health policy, and then the size of the cheque is debatable.

    But the politics of are that compensating only the losers from government health policy, and compensating them well, is something that the majority of voters, who suffered small or no losses, don’t really like, so what is politically feasible is to give a little money to everybody.

  4. Solideco

    There were a few reports that Biden was/is against greater direct support for people in the recent bill. Can’t help but wonder is Summer is playing for Biden, giving Biden an excuse/cover for not doing me… “Gee, if Larry is against greater stimulus…”

  5. Jack

    Larry Summers has been, is, and always be a morosoph, i.e., “a learned fool.”

    That is all that needs or must be said about him – though I do enjoy Ian’s periodic eviscerating of these alleged people of import.

  6. Ché Pasa

    Interesting. Heritage Foundation has been raging against “checks” since the first round believing that “checks” produce little or nothing besides indolence and sloth among the Lower Orders (can’t have that) and go mostly to people who don’t “need” extra money anyway and who do useless things with it like pay down debt and increase the already too high rate of savings.

    They suggest that the answer, as always, is to reduce or eliminate regulations so that the unfortunates among us can start businesses providing services to one another and their betters such as child care, meal prep and delivery and so forth.

    But by God, don’t give them money, don’t hand out money to everyone, don’t enable frivolity. We’re in a pandemic for gawd’s sake.

    Extend and supplement unemployment benefits where indicated and by all means make assistance available to impacted businesses — *small” — so they can make it through to the other side, but otherwise let nature take her course.

    Homelessness, hunger, lack of healthcare are not “real” problems — because they don’t affect very many in the vast, eternal scheme (yet) — and it should be up to the states to decide what, if anything, to do about them.

    Subtext: besides, there are too many Useless Eaters, and the opportunity to dispose of a significant number of them should not be missed. Profits can be made, after all. (Funeral homes in my area have raised their prices by up to 50%.)

    Summers’ position is not materially different than that. He’s wrong in important ways, but he follows ne0-liberal doctrine, and that’s what’s important. It resonates with Nancy, Chuck, Old Joe, and nearly all Rs, all of whom are making much money in this crisis and don’t want anything to interfere with the best days of their worthless lives.

    Besides, there is the risk the rabble will just spend the excess money on guns, drugs, booze and fancy women.

  7. Ian Welsh

    Non universal programs usually don’t happen and when they do, rarely work.

  8. Hugh

    Summers isn’t intelligent. He’s a crook. He drove the world off the financial cliff by deregulating derivatives and repealing Glass-Steagall. A sixth-grader would have known this was crazy, like throwing a bomb into a fireworks factory. Larry cheered it on. He certainly wasn’t alone. He needed lots of others in our ruling political and financial classes to gitter done. Still this example of Larry’s “brilliance” cost us in the US alone between 25 and 35 Trillion dollars.

    Screwing ordinary Americans out of maybe half a trillion must be a real come down for him. But if Larry were sincere, a contradiction in terms. he would have spent less time with aggregates and goofy stats and focused on the number of Americans who need help and how much they need. Many of these need more than $2,000. He might have spent some thought on the upward trend in wealth due to the pandemic and how the trillion dollar windfall increase in the wealth of billionaires alone might be repatriated and distributed to those in need. Such problems though are beneath the notice of the Great Larry.

  9. Hugh

    “Non universal programs usually don’t happen”

    That’s why the Democrats usually want to means test everything. On the other hand, universal healthcare isn’t happening either.

  10. nihil obstet

    On Summers’ brilliant raw processing power: GIGO applies. He scarfs up the garbage and little else.

    He has been swathed in mental pampering his whole life. People with academic connections succeed better and faster than those without. His parents were guarantee that with even mediocre intelligence he would have gotten a good job and promoted. Thereafter, he ran things where underlings had to defer and failed upwards. He always had an income that put him in the top couple of percent and a prestige position. The world is a fair, just place. He has no reason to question his actions or beliefs. He’s brilliant, you’re not.

  11. Z

    It’s heartwarming how the COVID pandemic has further tightened the bonds between economists like Paul Krugman, Larry Summers, and Nouriel Roubini and DNC-vetted politicians such as Amy K of Swiss Army Komb infame, Kamalala, and Creepy Joe and how they have united against the $2000 payouts to U.S. citizens.

    It’s comforting to know that these exemplary human beings … who happen to be all multimillionaires by the way who incidentally very likely “made” most of their wealth from our freedom-loving, Fed-assisted markets … always have the best interests of U.S. citizens in mind.


  12. Z

    My rant against economists back in the early Obama years, shortly after the 2008 housing market and financial markets debacle:

    Let me be clear, my following criticisms of the economics profession don’t apply to ALL U.S. economists, just an appalling large amount of them.

    For a glimpse at Krugman’s intellectual dishonesty, I suggest that one read his essay: “How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?”. You’ll notice that in his critique of his profession, he never mentions the Fed’s role in why they almost all “got it so wrong”. There is no way that he is unaware of the influence of the Fed on the economics academia … no way. He was a professor at Princeton. But yet he deceitfully skips over all that because he doesn’t want U.S. citizens to know about it.

    Instead he provides innocent reasons as to why the vast majority of his profession were so wrong … romantic reasons tied to numbers and beauty and all kinds of other really nice things that caused them to so innocently miss bubble after bubble after bubble … as Wall Street got richer and richer and richer. God, he makes you feel so sorry for economists that you almost just want to hold one in your arms and protect them and tell them that everything is gonna be all right … just like the vast majority of them had been telling us the whole time as things went to shit.

    Basically, the truth that Krugman dare not utter is that his profession in this country is CORRUPTED! They have been for a long time. Who hires these jackasses? Wall Street, the Fed, the Federal government … excuse the redundancies … and academia (the factory for these whores who also has its own incentives to play nice with DC cause they’ll play nice back). And that’s how you generally become successful as an U.S. economist: thru Wall Street, academia, the Fed and the U.S. government. And what did all these entities want us to hear? Everything is going great … spend, spend, spend and don’t worry about the debt because better times are just right around the corner.

    And the thing about economics … and it’s a little like psychology in this respect … it is very difficult to impossible to determine and measure the effect of variables because you can’t isolate them. So you get all these unprovable theories … economic religions … and then these entrenched academia jackasses don’t want the field of study to move outside of their theoretical area of expertise. And the establishment that benefits from these theories gets behind those priests and solidifies their position … and hence, their ideologies … at the Milty Friedmann-bobble head factories commonly referred to as university economic departments (to his credit, Krugman is not a Milty Friedmann-bobble head doll).

    Krugman also plays favorites. He loves the Clintons. He was up for a position in Clinton’s cabinet but … as he tells his favorite story … he was too blunt to get it. Whatever … he still worships Bill Clinton … anything Clinton. He loves Benny Bernanke too and raved about the great job he did in printing up money and hoovering up Wall Street’s junk securities at top dollar until Wall Street stopped making him cry uncle. Big accomplishment … it takes about as much talent to do that as it does to fill up a pitcher of beer and vacuum the floor. But no wonder he loves Bernanke so much: Bernanke got him his job at Princeton.

    Krugman habitually blames Ronald Reagan for damn near everything that’s gone wrong with the economy in the last 30 years … and I’m getting so tired of this bullshit from the liberals. This is similar to the idiot republicans blaming Jimmy Carter for the housing crash due to some bill he signed for low income housing (Hell, why not just blame it on James Polk. He’s the one that acquired California, Nevada and Arizona and the housing crash never would have gotten this bad if those states weren’t around.). But the liberals are often just as illogical as the republicans and just as blind to it. Anyway, Reagan has been gone for a long time, any of the presidents that followed him could have changed course but they did not. Reagan did not put them under some hypnotic trance, they made their own decisions of their own volition and you can’t lay their decisions … and sell-outs … on a man that hasn’t been president in over 20 years.

    Krugman is a sell-out too, albeit a quirky one. He won’t go against the people that helped him get into the system. He’s been corrupted by the process that it often takes to become “successful” and wealthy in that field of filth.

    And for any folks that are reflexively starstruck by Krugman’s establishment award, remember this: Henry Kissinger got a Nobel Peace Prize for NOT bringing peace to Vietnam, Obama got fronted one as a down payment for a more humane U.S. foreign policy and he never paid them back, and Tommy Friedmann’s mantle is littered with Pulitzer prizes. Establishment awards don’t necessarily mean jackshit. They are often a way for the establishment to tell us that, “Hey, this guy is really smart, you really ought to listen to him” because the awarded tells us what the establishment wants us to believe.


  13. Z

    Paul Krugman, Larry Summers, Nouriel Roubini, Amy K of Swiss Army Komb infame, Kamalala, and Creepy Joe to the 78% of U.S.ers who are in favor of the $2K checks:

    You don’t understand what’s good for you!


  14. Hugh

    It’s also very Hillary “You can’t have nice things” liberal.

  15. Purple Library Guy

    Economists are in many ways a subset of the media. As such, you find that Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s “Propaganda Model” from Manufacturing Consent applies to them pretty well. So, as with journalists and anchorpeople and whatnot, the economists who end up in prestigious positions, writing columns, being asked by the media for their opinions, being big wheels at the Fed etc., and to a fair extent even training up the next lot of economists, are the economists who have opinions that are useful to our ruling elites.

    Currently, that means basically neoliberal, no matter how intellectually bankrupt neoliberal economics has always been or how obvious research has since made that bankruptcy. Some of them may just have happened to start off with neoliberal ideas, maybe because they were rich and it was the implicit frame in their milieu when they were growing up. Some might have been struck as university first-years by some impressive presentation of how lovely the logic was (given enough counterfactual assumptions). Some might have been more heterodox or even radical in their youth, but at some point decided that that was kid stuff and they had to be “mature”, and sold out. But the bottom line is, there might have been plenty of people who studied economics and were not successfully indoctrinated into doing economics for the benefit of the very wealthy, but those people did not get hired to that prestigious economics chair endowed by some very wealthy guy, vetted by a hiring committee who did their selling out decades previously.

  16. someofparts

    Friedman got a Pulitzer? It’s worse than I thought.

    Ten Bears said it best. Neoliberal economics is libertarian Scientology.

  17. Z


    Thomas Friedman got three of them.


  18. Hugh

    Tom Friedman got a Pulitzer in international reporting in 1983 for his coverage of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, another in 1988 for coverage of Israel and one for commentary on terrorism in 2002. It just says so much about whom our powers that be lionize and for what, doesn’t it?

  19. Klv

    Why do we spend so much time on Larry Summers? He has models, sure, and he is monumentally stupid. He has academic credentials but no wisdom. He hangs out with a crowd where nobody has a net worth less than $1+ million (i.e. he never met an actual working person). His most famous statement was (paraphrasing here) – “the problem with Africa is that it is under polluted”. Do I need to say more?

  20. Stirling S Newberry

    Yes, Larry Summers is brilliant, stellar in fact. And Ian is correct, he gets to the wrong conclusion with regularity. The problem is with the economics he has learned.

  21. Stirling S Newberry

    He has met actual working people, there are called “students.”

  22. Hugh

    Summers exemplifies his class. Whether we are talking Trump or Biden, Pelosi or McConnell, the Larrys Kudlow and Summers, or literally a thousand others, these are people who have spent their whole careers making colossal mistakes and evils. And they have gotten or stayed rich doing them. Rather than ending up in prison, or ridiculed into oblivion, they become the Experts, the Serious People, no matter how massive their crimes.

  23. Ten Bears

    A harbinger, Klv, a taste of what’s to come. If he, Larry Summers, the architect of the Greatest Recession Since the Great Depression, is already in these conversations he is influencing, will be a part of, the incoming administration. This is not a good thing.

  24. Hugh

    Stirling, no. Just no. At some point, there has to be some relation between cause and effect, between reality and performance. It like saying someone is a great chef: they burn everything they cook to cinders. Bur wow! what a cook. Being pedigreed and credentialed like Summers is doesn’t mean a d– thing. The drunk at the end of the bar has a better track record on economics.

    I do not get why elites should be worshipped because they are elites –and on top of this no matter how transparently wrong they are.

  25. Willy

    I once had a ‘successful socialized sociopath’ tell me that “perception is a strange thing”. This was in an engineering office environment. I think he meant that otherwise intelligent people can come to believe in anything, even utter folly and abject stupidity, for whatever selfishly personally emotional needs they may have. And then he of course, was more than happy to take advantage. Since he was an emotional flatliner and cared nothing for anything but himself, the emotional and fallacious beliefs of others were available for his use, to be taken advantage of for personal gain or amusement. I suspect many of the PTB operate the same way. It’d explain the failures of Soviet Communism and Milton Friedman-ism, and the spread of Cambridge Analytica style outfits, instead of legal defenses against.

    In other anecdotal news, I just got done with an educated climate change denier who told me that facts were irrelevant to her because she enjoys her climate denial beliefs. Apparently, they serve her well, on whatever emotional levels. I’ve heard about theists where even if absolute proof of a godless universe was readily available, they’d still believe in a God.

    It’s strange how supposedly rational ‘academics’ like Larry Summers appear completely ignorant or dismissive of facts on the ground, that the masses spending more is always going to create lesser economics than elites owning more. Or maybe not.

    Are these forms of Dunning-Kruger? What other human fallacies have been studied and proven? Is common knowledge of human folly possible, to the point of being common wisdom at the cultural level? Also, I know a lot of so-called professionals, who are actually quite incompetent, preferring to play with smoke and mirrors instead.

  26. different clue

    @ Mark Pontin,

    I left a further thought-reply back at the Trump Outflanks . . . thread. If my thinking is still on a right track please let me know. Or it it has gone off track please let me know.

    The thread to this post here . . .

  27. bruce wilder

    He is also repulsive. I mean physically and personally. He signals what he is, pretty loudly. So many people refuse to see and hear.

    That said, he regularly says things for calculated effect. Maybe everyone does, but he is particularly cynical and, yet, he also regularly blunders with “what he really thinks” which is reactionary crap. Go figure.

  28. S Brennan

    Whether Summers is part of Biden’s administration, his policies are and most here supported/voted FOR them so let’s cut the crocodile tears. If you spent the campaign saying “Biden TINA !!!” you are the problem, stop pretending otherwise.

    And while I thought Trump’s tax polices sucked I read this little nugget today:

    “[I]t was perhaps the most vile thing Congress ever produced…

    The “worst bill in the history of the United States Congress,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    “The American plutocracy gets its immoral tax bill,” wrote Jesse Jackson in the Chicago Sun-Times.

    “Sheer greed, an effort by the…. ‘malefactors of great wealth’ to escape more of their obligations to the society,” wrote the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

    It was TCJA, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and its alleged sin was a massive give-away to the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class.


    In 2018, the first year for which we have hard numbers, the wealthiest Americans paid a greater portion of the burden than they did before.

    There’s more. TCJA, according to separate research, lopped a full trillion dollars off the value of high-end homes, not middle-class homes, which was part of a trade-off that accrued to the benefit of the country as a whole.

    Here are the details from the IRS:

    As a result of the TCJA, the share of federal income taxes paid increased for the top 1 percent from 38.5 percent in 2017 to 40.1 percent in 2018…. On top of this, the share of income taxes paid by the top 5 percent, top 10 percent, top 25 percent, and top 50 percent all increased. The bottom 50 percent of taxpayers saw their share of federal individual income taxes drop from 3.1 percent to 2.9 percent.

    Their full report is here.

    How can that be? TCJA cut rates for high earners and some supposed experts said at the time that the result would be a windfall for the rich.

    [One] reason why higher earners didn’t get a windfall, one that became immediately obvious to anybody paying high property taxes in states like Illinois. For high earners, TCJA slashed the SALT deduction – deductions for state and local income tax, sales tax, and property taxes, essentially capping them at $10,000. With a higher standard deduction protecting low and moderate incomes, that cap only hit big earners.

    High property taxes and a reduced deductible depress home prices. Moody’s estimates that TCJA’s reduction in SALT deductions means home prices are $1 trillion lower than they would be otherwise. That loss is almost entirely concentrated on big earners and those with expensive homes in high tax states. The middle class gets the standard deduction, which TCJA increased, or if they itemize, they don’t hit the $10,000 cap. So, the tax code changes hurt home values most in the wealthiest areas.

    The point is that the savings for the general public that resulted from reduced SALT deductions were paid for heavily by the wealthy through reduced home values. TCJA was indeed progressive.

    [How Progressive?]

    Senators Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, for example, want to eliminate the cap on SALT deductions. That means they are directly supporting a tax cut for the rich. Schumer said, “I want to tell you this: If I become majority leader, one of the first things I will do is we will eliminate [the cap] forever…. It will be dead, gone and buried.” Pelosi has tried to remove the cap as part of various pandemic relief proposals.”

    Pretty funny stuff, I got hurt by the Bill’s removal of deductions related to the cost of working in a location other than your home [that’s a sizable cost that now falls to the workers who take short term work out of state]. But clearly, Pelosi & Schumer’s donor base as well as their wealthy asses actually had to pay tax because their multiple mansions were no longer tax subsidized.

  29. Klv

    bruce wilder

    > He is also repulsive. I mean physically and personally. He signals what he is,
    > pretty loudly. So many people refuse to see and hear.

    Leave the personal out of it. Focus of the message. It does not matter what he physically/personally looks like. You are not living him; his family is. It is not your problem.

  30. Larry Summers

    Thanks Klv. It just ain’t easy.

  31. Eric Anderson

    Enjoying Hugh’s comments and agree wholeheartedly.

    What’s sticking in my craw; however, is that we’ve entirely lost sight of ‘why’ we’re doing this. We wouldn’t have a problem (well, not this particular one) were it not for a pandemic. The idea being we are motivating people to stay home. All people.

    I’m doing my damnedest to run my practice from home and am not “unemployed” by any means. But the hit is real and it hurts. To make ands meet, I’m tempted more and more to escape to the office and push my billable harder … thus increasing my chances for contracting coronavirus.

    ffs people … focus.

  32. Mark Pontin

    Bruce Wilder wrote: ‘He (Summers) is also repulsive. I mean physically and personally. He signals what he is, pretty loudly.’

    klv wrote: ‘Leave the personal out of it. Focus on the message. It does not matter what he physically/personally looks like.’

    I dunno. If the medium is the message, when the medium looks like Jabba the Hutt, that may say something about the message.


    @ different clue: –

    To your question: ‘ When the Department of the Treasury emits Federal Reserve Notes and issues them into circulation, are they strictly backed ( and must be pre-permitted) by play-credit decreed into existence by the Federal Reserve Bank System?’

    No. AFAIK, no particular legal constraints exist on how much paper currency and coinage the Fed may decide to issue in a given year. At present, about $1.2 trillion exists as physical currency. This is an _increase_ in the percentage of the money supply that’s physical currency over past decades — not so surprising since in the wake of the 2008 GFC the Fed had to act as backstop for the entire global financial system in order to save the dollar as global reserve currency, and that in turn required massive printing and overseas export of $100 bills.

    I’m just another schmuck on the internet, however, so don’t take my word for this. Here’s what the Fed says in general–

    Here’s what the New York Fed says rather more specifically in terms of the actual mechanics of —
    ‘How Currency Gets into Circulation’ —

    And here’s a one-and-a-half minute video from the associate director for the U.S. Currency Program at the Federal, talking about how they do the annual print order for new currency —

  33. bruce wilder

    As long as you are a person, it’s always going to be personal. There is no virtue in pretending it ain’t.

  34. Klv

    Larry Summers
    > Thanks Klv. It just ain’t easy.

    Hey Larry, sure no problem. Glad to be of help.

  35. Klv

    bruce wilder
    > As long as you are a person, it’s always going to be personal.
    > There is no virtue in pretending it ain’t.

    I don’t know about the virtue thing, but on a purely practical level, you get further if you don’t make it personal. I tried it, it didn’t work for me. I am pretty sure it won’t work for you either.

  36. bruce wilder

    . . . on a purely practical level, you get further if you don’t make it personal. I tried it, it didn’t work for me.

    I call b.s. What “practical” result are you even pursuing in the case under consideration? Do you imagine winning a dispassionate debate over the finer points of economic analysis? With or against a Harvard professor?

    What you actually did in your comment before you got all pious and superior to justify lecturing me was simply to insult the man by calling him “monumentally stupid” (when he plainly is not). I would call that getting personal.

    Larry Summers, I regard as a case in point for a general problem we all face in politics of judging elite actors and their performance, motives and responsibility. This is always a challenge, but one felt more acutely as we pass through a legitimacy crisis. Who are our champions, our heroes, our villains, our nemeses? What do we make of great and powerful figures on the political stage.

    People read the signals in a variety of ways, influenced by the floodtide of propaganda. Larry Summers has pretty good PR the infamous blunders notwithstanding (he has enemies), probably professional though I do not know how exactly he manages that as it is not judged by journalists to be of interest to report. My point is simply that a variety of signals are available to read. Just as you do not need to know theology to spot a crooked preacher, you do not need a degree in economics to see what and who Larry Summers is.

    More broadly though, I do not think Americans are collectively good at judging or holding to their judgments in the face of the noise. I do not except myself particularly, though I am making my efforts and varied criteria for judgment explicit and public.

    I think it is OK to consider the manner of the man. You might draw unfounded conclusions from your gut reaction or anger and frustration with undeserved power (as you did in calling Summers “stupid”). But, really look at the person’s presentation and you might learn something you could not from reading the tea leaves of their tweets on economics.

  37. Ten Bears

    That ran right off the rails, can point to where it jumped the track.

    Looks like I’m gonna’ have to add a new category to my spreadsheet.

  38. Stirling S Newberry

    “Stirling, no. Just no. At some point, there has to be some relation between cause and effect, between reality and performance. ”

    You want him to be a cook, I am saying he is a biochemist. The is a large gap between the two.

    See Bretton-Woods for details.

  39. jackiebass

    This is a great article that hits the nail on the head.People like Summers are out of touch with the real world people live in. Almost everyone was economically effected by the slow down. Some more drastically than others. I listened to a retired person on SS and a pensions on CSPAN claim he wan’t effected by the slow down. His income stayed the same and since he is retired nothing changed. He describes me perfectly except for one thing. The cost of living has drastically increased. The price of almost everything went up. That means you dollar buys less. In effect your income indirectly went down. Summers simply looks at numbers. The numbers don’t tell all about individual cases. They rely on averages and averages can be easily distorted by outliners.

  40. John Emerson

    “Stupid” is the all-purpose PMC insult and doesn’t necessarily have any content. Calling Summers stupid is stupid. He’s very bright and very learned, but he has the huge blind spots of his trade and is committed to models which conceal major factors. Veblen called it “trained incapacity”.

    If he were only randomly wrong, he’d be humanely or democratically wrong some of the time, but his blind spots and errors have a political consistency toward supporting moneyed interests. The reasons for this consistency are unspoken and unexpressed, and he may have no conscious awareness of them at all. They’re more like gut feelings, and are shared and reinforced by everyone else in his small, wealthy, powerful world.

  41. Klv

    Bruce Wilder wrote:
    > He (Summers) is also repulsive. I mean physically …

    And bringing somebody’s physical appearance into discussion (of ideas/policy?) is what?

    > What “practical” result are you even pursuing in the case under consideration?

    Bringing people over to my side of thinking about public policy.

    > insult the man by calling him “monumentally stupid” (when he plainly is not).

    As I mentioned, he has academic credentials. I would say he is clever, academically. He can present a model/theory and lots of data. And he has fancy vocabulary.

    Does the requirement that these models/theories actually make sense, be reasonable, be consistent with reality, actually enter the picture?

    He has been (one of) the brain behind the neoliberal economic policies/thinking for a long time. Like – “The Fed must ensure stability of markets” meaning any hedge fund/wall st bank must be bailed out 100 cents on the dollar. This policy has been like dope, and has become “Fed must ensure price stability (in the financial markets)”, which means “The Fed must make sure rich people don’t lose money”. Because if they do, terrible things will happen, like economy will go to hell in a handbasket (I bet Larry Summers has a model for that).

    But when the question arises, should the government give $2000 to the little people, then suddenly “economy might overheat”, or whatever the excuse of the day is (I bet Larry Summers has a model for that too). I bet this model shows that when the Fed shells out $10+ trillion dollars to wall st through various programs, there is no danger of the economy overheating. Interesting how these models work. But give $2000 to the deplorables, and next thing you know they demand $10 trillion. What do they think, they are a wall st bank or something?

  42. Dale

    “Stupid is as stupid does.” Forrest Gump

  43. Dale

    To take a step back into the real world for a moment, I live in eastern Washington state. Our local newspaper reported the other day that 20% of customers are 2 months late in their utility bill payments. Hey Larry, think about the ramifications of that for a minute or two. That percentage will be going every month. But I did notice that the DJIA is now over 30,000! Happy days are here again!

  44. Stirling S Newberry

    Larry Summers has a number of people looking out for him, the same cannot be said of millions of of citizens of the Reich.

  45. Hugh

    Stirling, I am not impressed by credentials. Scott Atlas, Trump’s last coronavirus expert, was a neuroradiologist, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, and a dangerous idiot. Most of us here have spent years chronicling how the game is played. Rich and famous people send their kids to expensive name universities not for a good education they could get at a smaller unfamous college. They send them there, even as we saw last year breaking the law to do so, for the connections their kids will make and the doors that will be opened to them all their lives because they got a degree from Prestigious U. It is a perfect example of the rot of class.

    As for Larry, it’s like saying he was a genius, really stellar. His defense of the Flat Earth Hypothesis was brilliant. Ah, no. If he couldn’t come up with one interesting question about the sham that is modern economics, then he is an intellectual hack and fraud.

  46. two beers (not bears)

    Cognitive dissonance may be the most powerful negative force in the universe.

    Cognitive dissonance is what makes Summers do Summers. Establishment media and educational structures regularly deploy techniques that cause cognitive dissonance in order to get the masses of “liberal” and “conservative” working class people to hate each other and act against their own self-interest. Cognitive dissonance is why one person will kill another because the other worships a bearded sky god in different fashion. Once set in motion, cognitive dissonance is self-propagating. Cognitive dissonance is why trying to change a fool’s mind with rational argument is a fool’s errand.

    Until we come to terms with how pervasive and dominant cognitive dissonance is, and develop ways to disarm it in the masses, we will continue circling the drain.

  47. Eric Anderson

    Smart isn’t the adjective I’d use to describe any neoliberal economist. Smart, to me, has to be rooted in honesty to maintain any shred of it’s generally accepted positive connotation.

    Consider that they ignore completely the epistemological flaws they base their ‘science’ upon. Consider their complete disregard for the physical constraints imposed by nature.
    Consider the bias exerted by the influence of money on their ‘sciencey’ predictions.

    Sociopathic? Deceitful? Treacherous? These are the adjectives I choose to use to describe the likes of Summers, Krugman, Nordhaus, et al. They’re not smart. They’re evil.

    I’ll reserve smart for economists such as Steve Keen.

  48. Ten Bears

    [chuckling genuinely] I don’t know tb(nb), while I agree cognitive dissonance is The Problem, I spent fifteen years in academia and nobody ever invited me to conspire to control or manipulate anyone to hate anyone, though as a traveler in both domains, as both an Adjunct Instructor and full-time tech support to faculty and academic staff I was subject to considerable ire. Not everyone on campus is a ‘liberal’, people think of academia as just the professors; forget, never knew or don’t pay attention to the population of support staff, from custodial to tech support, that are all working class and all pretty ‘conservation’. And that, my friend, is where you find the manipulation and hatred.

    It could be argued my students, which at the time included faculty, academic and administrative staff were acting in their self-interest. I had people retire when I put a computer on their desk. I taught the (college) president how to e-mail, I built the university’s first computer lab. Sink or swim.

    Never did get a check from George Soros, that fawker.

  49. John Emerson

    Smart is not the opposite of deceitful, treacherous, sociopathic, or evil. It has a specific meaning and is the opposite of “dumb”. But smartness is the glory of educated people and the PMC and for them must have an absolute value, and “stupid” is just the PMC version of the schoolyard’s “dummy!” , or perhaps “poopy-face!”

  50. Mark Pontin

    To the question of Larry’s “smartness” —

    “How Larry Summers lost Harvard $1.8 billion”

    ‘Most people, if they’ve hired a legendary fund manager on a multi-million-dollar salary to look after investments and liquidity, would listen to the advice of that person. But most people aren’t Larry Summers ….’

  51. Eric Anderson

    @John Emerson
    Nobody said the adjectives I used to describe the neoliberals were the opposite of smart.
    But please, keep beating the strawman.

    No, I said what I said because words matter. And, we have a well deserved term for what I’m describing … evil genius.

    Please, let’s not denigrate the use of ‘smart’ to sociopathic criminals.

    For example, “that Pol Pot sure was a ‘smart’ guy. Gotta admire him.”

    No. Just, no.

  52. Z

    By the way, Thomas Friedmann is pitching in with the same song and dance against the $2000 payments:

    We need to take care of Americans hurting because of Covid-19. We need to buttress our cities that are running out of money. We need to invest in infrastructure. But a $2000 untargeted giveaway, in many cases to people who don’t need the help, is crazy. Can we stop and think?

    The ultra-rich are real good about disassembling and it’s always about some noble, selfless cause such as making sure the already rich don’t get any more richer … that’s not fair! … but of course the net result is less money for the people who need it the most, which cements the ultra-rich’s power advantage over us. Mind you that there is no way that the money that would be used for the payout will be shifted towards the people in any other way because it’s too late to change the bill (they know this) and there is no true debt ceiling either other than the one our rulers dictate and obliterate dependent upon their needs to maintain their power over us. It’s all about keeping the government’s and the Fed’s money creation capabilities only accessible to the rich.

    Summers, Krugman, Roubini, Friedmann … hmm, did somebody make a call on the Hasbara hotline?

    Tommy’s probably taking the candles off his mantle right now, clearing way for his next Pulitzer …


  53. Hugh

    If Summers is smart, then he knows what he is doing is evil and a fraud. If he doesn’t know, then he’s not that smart.

  54. nihil obstet

    Is it cognitive dissonance that neoliberal economists base their models on the existence of economic man, who in every situation makes rational choices for his own economic betterment and then claims that as an economist he himself makes his choices on some objective reality? It looks like just plain old sleaze.

  55. Eric Anderson

    No, Hugh. If Summers is a sociopath, then he knows what he’s doing is evil and a fraud.
    Since when do we go around calling people with destructive personality disorders ‘”smart’?

    One reason is we’ve been conditioned to believe that cheaters do prosper in the U.S. and that those that prosper are therefore smart.

    Rick Perlstein does a remarkable job of drawing this flaw in the American character in sharp detail, here:

    Smart benefits society. Summers is a walking “bezzle” — to steal John K. Galbraith’s term.

  56. Mark Pontin

    ‘Summers looked at me intensely and asked a question so well rehearsed that I suspected he had used it to test others before me.
    ‘‘There are two kinds of politicians,’ he said: ‘insiders and outsiders. The outsiders prioritize their freedom to speak their version of the truth. The price of their freedom is that they are ignored by the insiders, who make the important decisions. The insiders, for their part, follow a sacrosanct rule: never turn against other insiders and never talk to outsiders about what insiders say or do. Their reward? Access to inside information and a chance, though no guarantee, of influencing powerful people and outcomes.’ With that Summers arrived at his question. ‘So, Yanis,’ he said, ‘which of the two are you?’

    – Yanis Varoufakis, from ‘Adults in the Room: My Battle with the European and American Deep Establishment’, 2017


    “It’s a big club and you aren’t in it”

  57. Leon Festinger's Ghost

    More accurately, not wanting to succumb to the psychological stress induced by cognitive dissonance is what makes Summers do Summers.

  58. Z

    How did Larry Summers lose Harvard $1.8 billion?

    He probably took a bunch of securities off the hands of his Wall Street pals that they wanted to dump. Probably knowingly. The Harvard endowment isn’t his, but the money he gets paid to give speeches to Wall Street and the lucrative cushy jobs his pals on Wall Street hand him is.


  59. Eric Anderson

    To call a criminal ‘smart’ is reward them for the destruction that they cause.
    Inappropriate socialization marks them as damaged goods. Not, smart.
    They’re smart like an idiot savant.
    We can admire the idiot savant’s skill in an extremely confined area of expertise.
    But who makes the mistake of calling an idiot savant smart?

  60. Troy

    Get the feeling Summers or someone of his ilk will pen a document unironically titled, “Austerity as a Force for Good”. The USA seems to be well into a a new era of indentured servitude made possible by neoliberal policies; however, there is no new land which to promise to the swelling army of well-educated McJobbers and interns so the promises of the American die one by one and then suddenly all together.

    Observing the USA, it really feels like it’s shifting into a new Antebellum era. Lines are being drawn, bodies are shifting, and sectionalism is growing. To reach for comparables, Obama’s AFC might as well be a new-age Missouri Compromise, maintaining the current system of neoliberalism while routing actual progress. “Nothing will funamentally change” for the next four to twelve years, and so it becomes as another knee on the back of the neck of the new indentured servants.

    The discussion of universal healthcare is so taboo there may as well be an actual new Gag Rule which is limiting its discussion in US Congress. When it is mentioned, it is treated as radical—even revolutionary—talk and beaten down. Its continued treatment as such will then become a self-fulfilling prophecy; if universal healthcare is revolutionary in the United States then it is what will be the next revolution will be fought over.

  61. Stirling S Newberry

    “Stirling, I am not impressed by credentials.”

    Credentials are certainly not the only measure. However, when (and if) you say anything that impresses me, I will tell you. So far, that has been this hasn’t been the case.

    Summer’s has a large number of problems but you haven’t grasped them. His problems are far more complex and subtle and tell hyperintelligent individuals the traps that lie in taking the derivative of their assumptions. That is to say, Summer’s has problems but you are completely lost because you don’t understand them. Graduating from elite colleges say something about an individual. This doesn’t make that entirely good, after all, Ted Kaczynski graduated early from Harvard and though he had intelligence he applied it in brain-dead ways even from his point of view.

    Summer’s problem, in this instance, is not asking if the derivative makes any sense and if not why. He is acting as a talent when a genius is required.

    The measure he’s opposing is not the best but it is the best that can be gotten under the circumstances and there is plenty of time to fix the overheating which may occur by controlling future output with interest rates and fiscal policy.

  62. Z

    Tucked within these multi-millionaire’s “concerns” that the $2K is not targeted is that it actually is targeted and gets phased out starting at $75K and doesn’t go to folks making over $100K/year. These dishonest pundits and politicians know this, but they lie to posture as if they’re altruistically concerned about rich people unnecessarily getting the money in order to avoid any accusations that they don’t want it going to the working class and poor because they’re not getting any of it.

    It’s obfuscation all the time. Constant lies.


  63. Tomonthebeach

    As a psychologist with a post-retirement interest in economics, I have often faulted macroeconomics for ignoring the idiosyncratic nature of individual humans. I guess Dr. Summers never read anything by psychologist and economics Nobelist Dan Kahneman. For example, assuming that a population average represents the population can be outright foolish if the distribution is skewed as it is today by extreme wealth inequality. That fact alone makes Summers look cold-hearted and clueless. The distribution of income or wealth (take your pick) looks more like an Olympic ski-jump than a bell curve – a notable contrast.

    The last stimulus check did not overheat the economy. Research showed that it wound up most often in savings accounts which have since been drained to pay rentiers in the top 1%.

  64. John Emerson

    Words have meanings, all right, Eric, and anyone who calls Summers stupid is stupid. Obviously you are one of those people for whom “smart” is a warm, fuzzy buzzword and stupid is the ultimate insult, but that’s a stupid way to think. I’ve been trying to make a specific point here, and for reasons of your own you are insistent on missing that point. Trained incapacity is not stupidity. And many people who say “stupid”things are simply dishonest people who are concealing their true views and trying to fool people, often successfully.’

    We have had a frank exchange of views, and out of respect for the host I will leave it at that.

  65. Hugh

    Eric, I agree. I do not think Summers can be both smart and honest, especially intellectually honest.

    Stirling, perhaps you should stop while you are behind. You can’t criticize Summers too much because his economics are mostly your economics. His class is your class or the class you would like to belong to. It is funny and sad that you feel the need to defend Summers, his vaunted intelligence, and his criminal, joke economics as he tells the rest of us to just go die or at least suffer more quietly.

  66. John Emerson

    “Smart, to me. has to be rooted in honesty”.

    No it doesn’t. That’s just you.

  67. John Emerson

    As I said, Summers is smart but not honest. There’s no difficulty with that at all, except for you. He also has enormous professional blind spots, but he’s not dumb.

  68. mago

    There are different measures of intelligence, including analytic and intuitive. Not getting into it. Summers was in league with Epstein, that alone makes him ugly. His appearance would be judged as unappealing by most. But it’s his mind . . .

  69. Eric Anderson

    Being a dishonest human being is by definition not smart.
    You cheat yourself and everyone around you thereby incurring the tribe’s wrath.
    So long as our culture continues to lionize dishonesty as ‘smart’ we will all continue to suffer.

    What a ‘smart’ way to run a society.

    Dishonest is, in fact, the stupidest thing a human can be.

  70. Eric Anderson

    But do go on, John.
    Split your little hairs while your chosen definition actively carries water for horrible humans.

  71. Willy

    There’s animal intelligence. Like alpha wolves and felines have.

    That ‘successful socialized sociopath’ I mentioned, was good with the terminology and jargon, even better with attacking rivals he was posing as inferior. He always appearing the confident ubermesch, which most people mistake for competency. One learned early to never ask complicated questions, even if answering them was his job as the sanctioned superior, since he’d hide his own ignorance behind attacks on yours. “What? You don’t even know that?” He relied on the naivete of ethical rivals, who’d prefer to keep things civil assuming that “the truth always eventually comes out” (Hint: It won’t with enough preemptive FUD). He knew that wiser ethicals prefer to lay low and avoid open political conflict. He stole and took full credit for ideas. He knew that most of his peers were aware of his political network and machivellian skillet. Reality was perception.

    In short, most of his effort was put into studying and attacking his rival’s weaknesses, who were “wasted their time” doing the actual work which they were getting paid for. As for the others, I’m unaware that he ever miscalculated his position on whatever particular food chain he found himself on. It was a success. He’s still there in a high-pay low-stress position. I suspect he’s viewed as an ubermensch superior these days, by all the naïve newbies. Or somebody to never be trifled with.

    I don’t know Summers personally. Maybe he’s more like my in-law, a ‘successful’ physician, who seems the charming caring folksy nice guy on the surface, but who can play the crony Machiavelli game well while rationalizing away any obvious and widespread negative impacts this sort of behavior has on society at large.

    For starters, I’d ridicule Summers actual comments and policies in the simplest and clearest possible language every time his name is mentioned. And be ready for any inevitable attempts to turn everything around onto you, into being your problem instead of his.

  72. Willy

    As always, sorry about the hasty spellcheck typos. You’ll get the point.

  73. Z

    The people who rule us are not stupid. For one thing, they know how to rig the U.S. economic system to their advantage. Almost every tinker they make to it further benefits them. In our political-economic system, capital equals power and they’ve done a grand job of wielding that power over us too.

    Our rulers have to act like they’re stupid sometimes because otherwise they’d have to admit that they’re sociopathic and corrupt.

    They won’t be stupid until they’re made to pay some consequences for being so sociopathic and corrupt.


  74. nihil obstet

    It is not necessarily an indication of intelligence that the whole system works to enrich the powers that be. Power enforces its own privilege. The CARES bill is over 5200 pages long. Just slap a little goodie into it for yourself and benefit. The Federalist Society approved court system will make whatever ruling you need for the benefit, as long as you’re powerful enough.

    Smart, dumb, whatever. It’s useful to analyze how the thinking goes and what can be accomplished understanding how it works, but at last it’s about policies we want, not more elitist rewards or extenuating circumstances.

  75. John Emerson

    No, dishonesty is not stupid. Words have meanings, as you noted yourself.

    But you, Eric, are a fucking moron. Ian is one of the best sritersbon the net, but his site is almost one of the “don’t read the comments” type, so if I get banned for calling you what you are, it will be no great loss.

  76. Elisa New Summers

    I’m certainly attracted to his mind. And we live well. We live well.

  77. bruce wilder

    Being a dishonest human being is by definition not smart.
    You cheat yourself and everyone around you thereby incurring the tribe’s wrath.

    You sound like someone’s third-grade teacher. The one who volunteers as teacher for Sunday School for the Methodist Church.

    The “tribe’s wrath” !? If we only did possess such moral clarity, we would not be burdened with “choices” like Biden v Trump.

  78. Eric Anderson

    Theory being, John, the first to ad hom is assumed to have lost the argument because they no longer have a rational counterpoint.
    Or, having lost such public face, they need to lash out to try and violently re-establish the control they could not intellectually attain.

    And Bruce, if you don’t understand that 90% of what we do today continues to be guided by the same tribal mores that guided us through the neolithic age, then there’s really not much I can say other than, bummer for you.

  79. Eric Anderson

    And while I’m at it, taken from evolutionary, sociologic and psychological viewpoint, being dishonest among one’s “tribe” has pretty dire consequences. Doesn’t get you a lot of dates once word gets out.

    What’s Larry’s tribe? The U.S., which he dishonestly plays to the surface? Or, the elite, which he dog whistles to? Historically, we’d frag him. And, getting fragged never seems the most intelligent outcome.

    In a perfectly sociopathic and self interested universe in which people are rewarded for their guile in fvcking one another over, yes. Larry is smart.

    But do we live in that universe (don’t answer)?
    Do we want to?

    Yes. Words matter.

  80. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

    Mr Summers is neither a member of the US nor of some shadowy “elite” which lacks all specificity. Elliot Abrams can explain, if need be. It’s all about survival.

  81. Eric Anderson

    Who said shadowy? Jesus, the straw men are thick tonite.
    They’re called billionaires. I don’t think they’ve been hiding.

  82. Eric Anderson

    “ … his site is almost one of the “don’t read the comments” type.”

    Sure, whatevs.
    But if so, the reason being is the core commenters generally manage to keep it pretty civil while simultaneously crushing dishonest flabby thinkers.

  83. someofparts

    Trained incapacity is a good way to describe people in the Summers cohort – Krugman for instance. Thing is, precisely when I consider Summers compared to Krugman, I’d have to say that while Paul is decent but misguided, Larry reeks of bad faith.

    Maybe he creates a bad physical impression because something squalid about his root disposition just oozes out of him so strongly that cameras pick it up. The fact that all of his mistakes somehow tilt in favor of moneyed interests seems like good evidence of this, especially since he has done this consistently over his entire career.

    Maybe Larry’s job is to take the lead in deciding which lies about the economy the talking heads are going to foist on the rest of us. According to Mark Blyth, not only is the economy in no danger of overheating, real problems have actually emerged in the opposite direction – the Fed is finding that it can’t create inflation even when it wants to.

    When important things that are clear to Blyth are not even on the radar for Summers, I could learn a lot from understanding how Summers got so blind, but at the end of the day, all I need to know about Larry is how to protect myself from people like him.

  84. Hugh

    What I find interesting in all this is that our ruling class hates the idea of money and/or resources going to (by definition, being wasted on) ordinary Americans. Mitch McConnell, Larry Summers come up with lies and spurious “concerns” why after the Fed’s latest bailout of Wall Street and the rich they suddenly don’t want to help anyone else. What I would like to know is how much Summers speaks for the incoming Biden Administration. Biden certainly has an unencouraging record there.

  85. Thomas B Golladay

    Important discussion with Dr. Martenson on current die offs, are now resulting in desperate animals fighting animals they don’t normally attack, plus usual reminder that Biden is shit, will accomplish shit, and cause more suffering.

  86. Astrid

    At this point, I think the thesis that we are ruled by a cabel of evil space reptiloids is what best fits the facts.

    Wishing everyone a better, or at least less painful, 2021.

  87. Stirling S Newberry

    Xfinity is forcing an ad on youtube that is so noxious if I can use anything else, I will.

  88. Astrid

    The best evidence of space reptiloid governance is obviously the appearance of USian politicians. They aren’t humans aging ungracefully. Just maturing into their reptiloid final state in their looooong lifespan.

  89. someofparts

    Well, now we know what Larry was up to. He coordinated with McConnell, Friedman, and other vermin to spook the Senate Democrats.

  90. Ten Bears

    Have I mentioned, Astrid, what a pleasure it has been to see you again😎?

    Because Stepford clones wouldn’t age at all …

  91. John Emerson

    Dear Eric, your claim that you have won the argument because you succeeded in causing me to think that you are a moron is an old, wornout troll gambit.

    I posted several times explaining my position, hoping to maybe have an interesting discussion, but all I got was you, repeating over and over and over again the assertion of yours that I objected to with no indication that you had even read my posts. But thanks for the moldy ev psych bullshit.

  92. Eric Anderson

    John, I thought i was pretty clear in my response to your posts. Your definition of smart as applies to people like Larry Summers amounts to carrying water for sociopathic oligarchs.

    Sorry you don’t see it. Though, I suspect most everyone else commenting here does.
    Here: This is me offering you a virtual kleenex.

  93. someofparts

    J Emerson – It’s like watching someone try to have a sensible conversation with someone who just keeps swinging a Wiffle bat and shouting taunts.

    I don’t imagine it’s your sort of media, but South Park has a great episode where Cesar Milan shows up and teaches Cartman’s mom how to get Cartman to behave.

  94. But the reason we put “brilliant” people in charge, is because the brilliant use their superbrain to learn what they need to, to carry out the optimum policy. It doesn’t matter what expertise is required, they will just learn that expertise, over night, or in a couple of days of intensive reading. Just as they do when they want to switch from, say, economics to brain surgery when they become bored.

    That is what it means to have a superbrain, isn’t it? That you can learn pretty much anything, effortlessly, including the fact that you have previously been wrong?

    Because if the only thing the brilliant can’t learn, is that they are wrong, it makes the whole concept of “brilliance” kind of fucking useless, doesn’t it?

    I am not that impressed that Larry can do mathematical analysis that he has been doing every single day for fifty years, quickly, or even in his head.

    However, you might want check the answers he comes up with before you bet anything important on them. You may be the first person to do that.

    See what happens when you ask Larry to calculate something new.

    “If you tell Larry a new idea, he can tell you what’s wrong with it on the spot.”
    That is trick, practiced to impress, just like the math. Larry thinks that is what brilliant people do, instantly tell you what’s wrong with your idea. Criticism is easy-ideas have common weaknesses.

    Larry doesn’t instantly tell you how to make the idea better, or what the extended implications are. That would be more impressive, but not much more. But then Larry wouldn’t get to show you how much smarter he is than you are, without having to offer you any of his ideas for similar treatment.

    Larry The Brilliant is a persona, a performance that Summers has been working on and refining his entire life. He does it because his actual accomplishments don’t seem to matter; he’s brilliant, so people keep putting him in charge, keep listening to him.

  95. Trey Parker and Matt Stone

    Actually, Cesar Milan’s intervention, which was about Milan’s ego more than any serious behavior modification plan, didn’t take in the long run, as Eric Cartman remains as unruly as ever. You seem to have missed the point entirely.

  96. Jeff Hails

    I think the phrase “raw processing power” is apt. I have no doubt he is intelligent and by accepted standards well educated. His processor is unfortunately running bad software on a buggy operating system.

  97. different clue

    @Mark Pontin,

    Thank you for answering my question about the difference (or not) in the backing required ( or not) for Federal Reserve Notes as against U S Mint Treasury Department metal coins. I will read and think about the material offered as best I can, given the sharp computer screen-time constraints I operate under.

    Depending on what I think I understand from the material as I read it and think about it, I may have some thoughts to offer on how to partially side-step some ( not all) involvement with the FedReserve Banking System’s monetized Play Credit.

  98. different clue

    Different people upthread have bandied about the usefulness of different words to describe the quality of Larry Summers’s mentallectual process and cerebro-cortical work-product output.

    I can think of 2 possible words. One already exists. Another I have made by welding two words together.

    How about ‘clever’? I remember several years ago that a commenter on Sic Semper Tyrannis offered a clever little comment and Colonel Lang replied: ” That’s very clever. I don’t like clever.”
    Clever leads into too clever by half and so forth.

    No? Well, how about shystersmart? Shyster lawyers are smart, but they apply all their smartness to clever shystering. I remember I was riding somewhere with someone and he, the driver, came to a red light intersection. With a ” no right turn on red” sign. The near right corner of that intersection ( “our” corner) was occupied by a gas station. So he turned right into the gas station, drove through it, and turned right onto the street we wanted. Then he looked at me and grinned and said . . . ” exquisitely legal”.

    If no one here likes clever or shystersmart to describe Larry Summers, then I suppose people can continue to bandy about different words and arguments for and against the different words, and either settle or not settle upon whatever perfect word they wish to use.

  99. Hugh

    Most money is created by the Fed and is digital. The regional Feds which are largely controlled by private banks decide how much money is going to be created in their area.

    About 3% of US currency is in the form of coins. The Treasury Department, not the Fed, controls coinage. By law, coins were supposed to reflect the value of the materials which composed them, except for those made from platinum and palladium. This led Carlos Mucha (beowulf) to propose a high denomination multi-trillion dollar platinum coin which Treasury would deposit at the Fed. The object of the exercise was for the Federal Government to take back some of the power of money creation which it had ceded (probably unConstitutionally) to the Fed in 1913.

  100. John Emerson

    Blah blah blah. It’s stupid to call Summers stupid. He’s smart by every reasonable definition of the word. There’s no need to search for an alternative. Smartness is a specific, limited it’s not an exalted form of wonderfulness.

    My initial statement was just introductory and I hoped to develop it further and have an interesting discussion of trained incapacity, institutional psychosis, etc., but that proved to be impossible here. What a fucking waste of time.

  101. Larry Summers

    The only thing stopping you from developing your thoughts is you John.

    Frankly, this group has failed miserably at developing anything approaching a coherent model of my intellect. And thoughts on my appearance were introduced, only to be abandoned in favor of a childish back-and-forth between some commenters peppered with pedestrian analysis by others.

    You’ll have to excuse me, Elisa and I are having dinner with Cornel West.

  102. John Emerson

    Hi, smart, snotty, mysterious Larry Summers!

    You’re giving trained incapacity a bad name. But I agree, I have only myself to blame!

  103. Charlie

    I find it very odd that “brilliant” Summers is only using payroll data to warn of an overheating economy with $2000, and not capacity utilization (currently 71%), nor M1 velocity (still in the toilet and likely to go lower with more lockdowns), nor labor market utilization (more than 100 million classified as not in the labor force). None of these suggest an overheating economy even with a UBI for quite a few months.

    As for the “intelligence” debate, I’ll quote Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.” And he’s done a lot of stupid.

  104. John Emerson

    Apparently no one here wants to go beyond the Forest Gump level of analysis. Summers is just an enhanced example of the economics profession as a whole, which is the point I was trying to get to, and the problem with him is a cruel indifference to the majority of the population and loyal service to big money, masked by elaborate economic models. But yes, to talk the local language, he is a big poop-faced dummy too, and if we say that loud enough we will defeat him.

  105. anon

    Secular Talk has a good video on everything that is wrong with Larry Summers.

  106. johnm33

    As Michael Hudson said recently “You don’t need an army to destroy a country any longer. All you need to do is to teach it American economics.” so why when you’ve almost reduced a population to beggary would you support anything that undoes your success?

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