Ex-Treasury Secretary, Now At D.E. Shaw, Up For Old Job

Nov 10 2008 | 1:21am ET

President-elect Barack Obama enjoyed a great deal of hedge fund support in his succesful bid for the nation’s highest office. His choice for chief of staff, Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (D-Ill.) is also a hedge fund favorite. Will they be joined around the cabinet table by an actual hedge fund veteran?

Lawrence Summers, Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, is one of two leading candidates for his old job. Summers, an economist who served as president of Harvard University for five years after he left Washington, joined New York hedge fund D.E. Shaw Group in 2006 as a part-time managing director involved in “strategic initiatives” and “high-level portfolio management activities.”

According to reports, Summers, who is also a member of Obama’s transition economic advisory board, which met in Chicago on Friday, is actively campaigning for the job. He has served as a key adviser to Obama during his run for the White House, joining him on a weekly conference call in recent months.

Summers’ chief rival for the position seems to be his protégé, Timothy Geithner, the chairman of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

Summers has moved a good deal to the left on economic matters since his stint as Treasury secretary, calling for increased regulation and restrictions on trade. But his nomination could cause headaches for the young Obama administration.

Summers’ time at Harvard’s helm ended with his resignation in February 2006, after months of criticism and a vote of no-confidence on the part of the Harvard faculty. A year earlier, Summers said that innate difference between men and women were responsible for the underrepresentation of women in scientific and engineering fields. He also ruffled feathers at Harvard’s world-class African-American Studies Department, criticizing high-profile professor Cornel West for a lack of serious scholarship. West later left for Princeton University. Opponents of Summers said the incident demonstrated his arrogant and intolerant leadership style.

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