Top Economists Warn, Predict, Explain at 'Summit'

Reform to correct the nation's serious economic problems was dominant theme at an extraordinary public gathering March 14 of top financiers Paul Volckerand regulators in Washington, DC. Paul Volcker, Jr., right, was the keynote luncheon speaker amid what organizers from The Atlantic Magazine aptly described as an all-star speaker program.

Volcker, who chaired President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board February 2009 until January 2011, received spontaneous applause from the audience when he said, "Speculators shouldn't be protected by the government," a condition that he dPeter Schiffescribed as existing too often. Volcker is best known as chairman of the Federal Reserve under United States Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan from 1979 to 1987.

Among other speakers was financier, author and recent GOP U.S. Senate candidate Peter Schiff, who amplified his views March 15 on the weekly Washington Update radio show I co-host with Scott Draughon. "We need to spend a lot less on education," said Schiff, CEO and chief global strategist for Euro Pacific Capital and shown at left. That includes what he called "worthless liberal arts degrees." Schiff, at left, is a regular on cable financial shows and predicted much of the housing and related financial collapse of 2008. Click here to listen to the interview by archive following its live broadcast on the My Technology Lawyer (MTL) radio network. Videos and news articles about the conference are available also on the Atlantic website and through such other news organizations as C-SPAN. Its Summit Examines Ways to "Fix" U.S Economy was one of 12 segments C-SPAN  produced and available for free viewing here.

The speakers were diverse in background, while also eminent and provocative. The moderator for several of the segments was Steve Clemons, the Atlantic's Washington editor-at-large and the primary organizer of tRobert Rubinhe event. Other speakers included former Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin, left, and Lawrence Summers, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and a predecessor, Lawrence Lindsey. Others included former FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness member Laura D'Andrea Tyson, and Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg.  Twitter feeds about the event are denoted with this hashtag: #EconSummit.

Among the many provocative topics were predictions on the President's economic recovery plans, assessments of performance and comment on an OpEd in the New York Times that morning, Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs, by a former executive who accused the investment banker of losing its focus on customer welfare compared to the welfare of the bank.

Lawrence LindseySeparately, Lindsey, a Republican at right, said experts from both parties should learn from "the near-death experience" of the markets in 2008:

My message today is that the public out there is mad at us. They hold us collectively responsible....We better start focusing on the quality of the job we do rather than saying, "It was the other guy's fault." We have to hold our own sides accountable because they're the only ones who'll listen to us.

Schiff, a radio host for the 10 a.m. to noon Peter Schiff Show, is the author of five books published by John Wiley & Sons. Crash Proof 2.0: How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse was published in February 2007 and appeared on both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.


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Related News Coverage

Atlantic Economic Summit

The Atlantic, The Villain, Roger Lowenstein, April 2012. The left hates him. The right hates him even more. But Ben Bernanke saved the economy -- and has navigated masterfully through the most trying of times.

C-SPAN, Summit Examines Ways to "Fix" U.S Economy, March 14, 2012.  Leading economic thinkers and practitioners discussed solutions to the problems rattling the U.S. and global economies at The Atlantic's Economy Summit. Speeches addressed the fragility of America’s economy in the wake of the ongoing global financial crisis and highlighted opportunities for growth and new policy approaches in coming years. The first panel entitled, "Diagnosing a Sick US Economy: What Happened and What Is the Fix?" focused on the causes of the stagnant U.S. economic recovery. The panelists agreed that the housing crisis is a major factor in the economy not rebounding as quickly. They also discussed the issue of income distribution disparity. Thomas Palley, the AFL-CIO’s Senior Economic Adviser added, that unlike previous downturns, this one is a demand side recession.  A second panel examined the topic, "No-Nonsense Prescriptions for Jump-starting Real Economic Growth" and discussed tax reform, increased investments in education and refocusing on manufacturing as options. Former Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell and former SEC Commissioner, Annette Nazareth, were among the panelists who took part in this discussion. Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, delivered the keynote luncheon remarks.

New York Times, Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs, Greg Smith, March 14, 2012. Today is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it. To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.

Huffington Post, Larry Summers: Cuts Won't Fix Economy, Bonnie Kavoussi, March 15, 2012. Larry Summers, a former top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, said on Wednesday that the U.S. government cannot cut its way to fiscal sustainability. Summers said at The Atlantic's Economy Summit in Washington that the government needs to raise taxes and ensure robust economic and job growth in order to make the national debt sustainable.

Editor's Recommendations
National Journal, Is Eric Holder Costing Barack Obama the Election? Michael Hirsh, March 13, 2012. With his poll numbers bruised by rising gas prices, President Obama last week casually mentioned at a news conference that the actions he was taking included "making sure that my attorney general is paying attention to potential speculation in the oil markets."   But is Eric Holder, who is gaining a reputation for passivity in a number of investigations, really paying attention? Obama added that he had asked Holder "to reconstitute a task force that's examining" oil speculation, which is partly responsible for the rapid run-up in prices. And yet the so-called task force that Holder convened almost a year ago, in April 2011, the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group, has met only several times, leading a frustrated Obama to call for it to be "reconstituted." And in the week that's passed since Obama made his comments, the task force has met once more, according to a Justice Department spokeswoman.

Jersey Journal, Former assemblyman Louis Manzo says feds broke law in prosecuting him and should reimburse him $150,000, Michaelangelo Conte, March 15, 2012.  Now that every charge filed against former state assemblyman Louis Manzo by the U.S. Attorney’s Office has been thrown out by a judge, Manzo has filed a motion seeking to have $150,000 in attorney fees reimbursed under the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment, which was enacted in 1997, allows for court costs to be reimbursed to criminal defendants where the court finds the position of the United States was “vexatious, frivolous, or in bad faith.” “What we filed today shows without a doubt that federal prosecutors broke the law, and my question is why are they immune and why isn’t anyone prosecuting them,” Manzo told The Jersey Journal. Manzo said he has lost his house and business as a result of the failed prosecution. Compensation awarded under the Hyde Amendment would come out of the budget of the specific federal agency involved, in this case the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “It is stunning that someone who was recorded agreeing to sell the office for which he was running conduct a federal judge described as reprehensible would attack prosecutors who were following that evidence where it led,” U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Rebekah Carmichael said last night about Manzo’s filing.

Legal Times, Stevens Report Details Botched Prosecution, 'Systematic' Concealment of Evidence, Zoe Tillman and Mike Scarcella, March 15, 2012. In a 525-page report (PDF) released this morning, a special prosecutor detailed the mismanagement and, in some cases, misconduct that he believed characterized the Justice Department's handling of the prosecution against late Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. Reactions were swift. Prosecutors cleared of misconduct expressed support for the report's findings, while those found responsible for wrongdoing claimed they were unfairly targeted. Stevens' defense lawyers called the report proof of "the worst misconduct we've seen in a generation by prosecutors." On the heels of the report's release, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced new legislation this afternoon aimed at preventing the type of prosecutorial misconduct found in the Stevens case in the future. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan tasked special prosecutor Henry “Hank” Schuelke III with examining the Justice Department’s handling of the Stevens case after it collapsed in 2009.