Larry Summers’ Big Moment To Shine

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From the print magazine, Massimo Calabresi and I have a story on Larry Summers, who has quickly become perhaps the most powerful economist in the world, meeting daily with President Obama to design a dramatic remaking of the U.S. Government’s role in the economy. An excerpt:

But with unemployment soaring toward 25-year highs, housing prices plunging and the nation’s biggest banks facing insolvency, it is difficult not to wonder, Is Summers–is anyone, really–up to this herculean set of tasks at this impossible moment? And if the responsibility must fall largely on the shoulders of one man, does it have to be a guy in an ill-fitting suit who has a reputation for occasionally putting his foot in his mouth? The one who speaks in a disembodied patter while his nail-bitten fingers fiddle with his constant liquid sidekick, a can of Diet Coke? And then, just when you begin to ask yourself these questions, Summers starts speaking with an almost poetic clarity, in those perfectly formed sentences that have made him an in-house economist for three of the past five Presidents. “Any study of history reveals that with crisis comes enormous fluidity in the system,” he says, a foot tapping now. “In Washington the transition from inconceivable to inevitable can be rapid if forced by events.”

Also, up on today, Jay Newton-Small and I have a story about Obama’s early struggles to bring bipartisanship to a partisan town.