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Larry Summers backs out of Fed chairman consideration

Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said the mounting pressure against him prompted him to withdraw his name from consideration for the top job at the Federal Reserve.
Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Sept. 15, 2013 at 4:37 PM  |  Updated Sept. 15, 2013 at 6:14 PM   |   Comments

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Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers has withdrawn his name from consideration for the chairmanship at the Federal Reserve, citing a too-tough confirmation process that he said would not be good for the country while it continues to recover.

"I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interest of the Federal Reserve, the Administration or, ultimately, the interests of the nation's ongoing economic recovery," Summers wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama, following a phone call to the president.

While the Harvard economist was believed to be Obama's first choice to replace Ben Bernanke for the top job at the Fed, he faced growing opposition from liberal groups and women's groups. And more recently, several members of the Senate Banking Committee, which would have to first confirm his nomination before it moved to a full Senate vote, said they would oppose his appointment.

Summers, who worked as an consultant for Citigroup, would face conflicts of interest that, even if he were exempted from President Obama's ethics rules, would force him to recuse himself from decisions regarding the Citi, the third-largest bank in the country. Friday, before deciding to withdraw from consideration, Summers severed ties with Citi.

Surveys of economists, including academics and private-sector forecasters, found greater support for Federal Reserve Board Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen, who has been at the Fed for 20 years. Other names under consideration are reportedly former Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn and former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the latter who said he wasn't interested in the job.

Summers was a member of the National Economic Council early in Obama's first term, and in a statement, the president called him "a critical member of my team as we faced down the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and it was in no small part because of his expertise, wisdom, and leadership that we wrestled the economy back to growth and made the kind of progress we are seeing today."

Obama said he had accepted Summers' decision.

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