Interview: Larry Summers

Article excerpt

The former economic adviser to President Obama is back teaching at Harvard, where he had a tumultuous run as university president.

You just gave your first lecture of the semester, titled "The Recent Financial Crisis." What do you want kids in the back row to remember? The three most dangerous words on a ski slope are "Follow me, Dad." The four most dangerous words in finance are "It's different this time."

Do Republicans overhype the dangers of government debt? Anyone who takes seriously the idea that the debt limit could not be extended and there could be a default even for a nanosecond on U.S. debt is a child with a match in a dynamite storeroom.

Mitt Romney says that if he runs for president, "I won't be asking Tim Geithner how the economy works--or Larry Summers how to start a business." Have you ever talked business strategy with Governor Romney? He was very interested in what Harvard and I could do to help during the time when he was governor of Massachusetts.

Are you surprised to hear him attacking your business acumen? No. You shouldn't work in Washington if you are not prepared to become an object of symbolic attack. …