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Lawrence Summers
  • Barack Obama Is Not the Homecoming Queen at G-20

    Ain't no summit like the G-20 Summit cuz the G-20 Summit don't stop! Haha, not really, it does stop. But then it happens again and again!

    This year, it's happening in South Korea, the world's primary producer of cabbage farts. And while the kimchi will undoubtedly be delightful, President Obama will also likely find that he is not, in fact, the belle of this particular ball. Just this week, China was all, "Yeah, we're downgrading your credit rating because you're doing exactly what we do, i.e., manipulating the value of your own currency in order to produce domestic jobs." Oh noez!

    Even if there is no immediate rival to the United States as a monetary power, American officials acknowledge that Mr. Obama is going to have a far more difficult time winning any kind of consensus strategy out of the Group of 20 than he did during the first such meeting of his presidency, in London in 2009.

    "The world is more divided today than it was in London because nations not facing the prospect of a depression have that luxury," said Lawrence H. Summers, who leaves the White House next month after two years as the head of the National Economic Council, and as Mr. Obama’s top economic adviser. "Part of a return to normalcy is that nations more strongly and disparately assert their immediate interests."

    Thanks, Larry! That insight will do Obama really well when he's all alone and embarrassed in the corner while Brazil is totally slow-dancing too close with Ireland to Heart's "Alone."

    I hope he enjoys twiddling his thumbs under a crepe paper garland and making forced small talk with the kindly but annoying elderly chaperon. This is gonna be totes awksies.

    Tags: Barack Obama, China, Economy, G-20, Lawrence Summers, Money, South Korea
  • Motown Meltdown: President Obama Kills the Car Czar

    Tomorrow's the deadline for General Motors and Chrysler to tell the government how, exactly, they're going to jiggle the whatsit and get their businesses back on the road to solvency.

    We've been awaiting the appointment of a federal "car czar" who'd oversee the restructuring in light of the automakers' $17.4 billion bailout, but now the entire process has hit a speed bump

    The Obama administration will not name a "car czar" to help oversee the auto industry's restructuring and will instead create an inter-agency task force to deal with the issue, according to senior administration officials.

    This task force will be overseen by everyone's favorite Handsome Tax Elf Tim Geithner, with help from his buddy Larry Summers and an investment banker or some other guy who can do math (better than Handsome Tax Elf Geithner). And this is all just terrible, for obvious reasons.

    The hiatus, in which the industry awaited the car czar, slowed progress in restructuring talks between automakers, bondholders and the United Auto Workers union, according to people familiar with the matter. Without someone firmly in charge, the various stakeholders have not felt compelled to come to the bargaining table, these people said.

    And really, what else could compel them to sit down and figure out a restructuring plan? The economic fate of an American city, a massive and massively symbolic domestic industry, thousands of jobs, that $17.4 billion IOU?


    If there's no rhymey government figurehead, there's really no point.

    Tags: Auto Industry, Barack Obama, Detroit, Lawrence Summers, Timothy Geithner