April 21st, 2009 | Uncategorized

Putting a price on Larry Summers

summers.jpg

Maybe you’ve wondered: How much would it cost to bring in a former Harvard president to give a big-time guest lecture in SSS 114?

Now we have an answer: $10,000, according to financial records released by the White House earlier this month.

Former Harvard President and Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who is now President Barack Obama’s chief economic adviser, collected more than $2.7 million in speaking fees from investment banking firms (including $35,000 from Merrill Lynch and $135,000 from Goldman Sachs), universities and other organizations since leaving Harvard, according to the White House documents.

And one of these universities was Yale, where Summers presented two talks as part of the Arthur M. Okun Lecture Series in April 2008 for the comparatively small honorarium of $10,000.  (You can watch them here and here.)

Still, when former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin LAW ’64 presented the 2009 Arthur Okun lecture earlier this month, he did it for free, said Robert Shiller, the Arthur Okun professor of economics.

“We do not have a standard honorarium,” Shiller wrote in an e-mail message. “We have a budget that would allow something like [Summers’ fee], but do not always pay any fixed fee.”