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Is It Summers?


Many of my tweeps seem to think that it’s a done deal, but the story itself seems qualified enough to not compel this conclusion:

A source from Team Obama told CNBC that Larry Summers will likely be named chairman of the Federal Reserve in a few weeks though he is “still being vetted” so it might take a little longer.

It’s largely come down to a two-horse race between Summers, a former Treasury secretary, and Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen for the next Fed chief.

Not only is this one unnamed source saying that it’s merely “likely,” we’re also meant to believe that an extremely well-known public official who is, among other things, a former Secretary of the Treasury requires considerably more “vetting.” (There are very few people who would require less vetting.) As far as I can tell, this story doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know: there’s a dismayingly good chance that Obama will nominate Summers even though Yellen is plainly the better choice, and at least some people in the White House want to make Summers seem inevitable. (Although some of the attacks on Yellen/defenses of Summers made by Summers defenders close to the White House are so transparently bad I wonder if some of the sources aren’t actually trying to advance Yellen.) But I don’t see anything in the story that justifies the assumption that it’s over and Summers will be the pick. (I’d actually bet on Summers, but I don’t think this story really affects the calculus.)

Annie Lowrey’s story about gender diversity in the executive branch seems relevant here.

…Ezra is a little less equivocal:

My reporting suggests much the same (though I’m less certain of the timetable). The White House’s economic team is lockstep behind Summers. And President Obama’s mind has long been pretty much made up. His preference for Summers comes from two years of working with the guy every single day and two more years in which they were routinely in touch. It’s not a soft lean.

If Summers doesn’t get the job it won’t be because the White House doesn’t want to choose him. It’ll be because they’re worried he won’t clear the Senate.

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