This blog has followed the remarkable multitasking of Harvard University’s last president (while president of Harvard, Summers did “consulting work for [a] hedge fund, Taconic Capital Advisors.”) Frank Rich writes:

That the highly paid leader of arguably America’s most esteemed educational institution …would simultaneously freelance as a hedge-fund guy might stand as a symbol for the values of our time. At the start of his stormy and short-lived presidency, Summers picked a fight with Cornel West for allegedly neglecting his professorial duties by taking on such extracurricular tasks as cutting a spoken-word CD. Yet Summers saw no conflict with moonlighting in the money racket while running the entire university.

But this is nothing, really. What Charles Ferguson, in his book Inside Job (based on the film) documents is the way in which

Over the past 30 years, significant portions of American academia have deteriorated into “pay to play” activities. These days, if you see a famous economics professor testify in Congress, or write an article, there is a good chance he or she is being paid by someone with a big stake in what’s being debated. Most of the time, these professors do not disclose these conflicts of interest, and most of the time their universities look the other way.

Half a dozen consulting firms, several speakers’ bureaus and various industry lobbying groups maintain large networks of academics for hire for the purpose of advocating industry interests in policy and regulatory debates. The principal industries involved are energy, telecommunications, healthcare, agribusiness – and, most definitely, financial services.

What tends to get attention are medical school professors’ conflicts of interest, and of course political science professors shilling for people like Gaddafi. Time to pay a little attention to econ.

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One Response to ““[Larry] Summers is a compromised man who owes most of his fortune and much of his political success to the financial services industry, and who was involved in some of the most disastrous economic policy decisions of the past half century. In the Obama administration, Summers opposed strong measures to sanction bankers or curtail their income. Harvard still does not require Summers to disclose his financial-sector involvements. Both Harvard and Summers declined my requests for information.””

  1. University Diaries » ‘Few thought criminals enjoy the kind of soft landing granted to UATX advisory board member Summers, whose ill-fated tenure as president of Harvard was notable primarily for his sexist views on women in science, his disman Says:

    […] of Andrei Shleifer, his taking over Harvard’s endowment and promptly losing $1.8 billion, his hedge-fund freelancing while president of Harvard, etc., etc. Summers is […]

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