A funny thing happened at the INET conference. First, I got to ask Larry Summers a question because Martin Wolf, who was moderating the session, is a good sport. Normally, at this sort of event, only At Least Semi Big Names get to interact with Big Names. Yours truly is a minimum of a rank or two below At Least Semi Big Names.
You will find our question at 55:35.
Second, my recollection of his long answer (which ducked my question, as various people remarked to me that evening and the next day) seems to not all be on the tape, which led me to think I was losing my mind. I distinctly recall two parts, the first being a bit of a detour that led to a diss of the question. In that, I recall him citing someone (I didn’t recognize the name, but I may also not have heard it clearly since I was at a table in the back) and then mentioning “socialist” and “communist” or “socialism” and “communism”. I was gobsmacked by that. In the second part, he posed his own question, which had very little do do with what I had asked, and answered that.
But when I went to look at the tape, lo and behold, no mention of either dirty word that I thought I heard I pinged a couple of buddies who were at the speech, neither remembers Larry’s answer.
But there is a clear editing break at just after 60:30 where the camera changes and at least a word appears to be missing. So maybe I have an over active imagination or maybe that bit was edited out for not-nefarious reasons (like Larry got lucky and and that bit got mangled between the two cameras).
And someone drew the same inference I did, regardless of whether the s/c words were uttered. From Stephan Richter on The Globalist (hat tip Amar Bhide):
For example, when the irrepressible Yves Smith asked Larry Summers about whether banking risks in the United States could not be helpfully diminished if its large institutions were run (read: compensated at the top) more like utility companies, he immediately aborted any effort at an intellectually honest answer by making it sound as if she were proposing to bring state socialism to banking.
A man who reportedly earned millions for having advised hedge funds one day a week for a year shortly before serving in the Obama Administration (and who is quite likely, now that he’s out, to do so again), he ought to have been patriotic and intellectually honest enough to provide a real answer.