Goldman Sachism?

I enjoy Felix Salmon and Mark Thoma’s blogs a lot.  In the last day, both have lamented the possibility that Gene Sperling might replace Larry Summers; their grounds are basically that he is a protege of Robert Rubin and that he took money to work (essentially) as a consultant for Goldman Sachs.

I suppose I should disclose that I once got to sit next to and talk with Gene Sperling on an airplane from Jackson Hole to Denver, and he struck me as a person of great intelligence and even temperament.  That doesn’t particularly matter–it does matter, however, that the people who I know who know him also regard him as a person of great intelligence and even temperament.  Let me emphasize the temperament part.  He also pushed for the very good idea of imposing Pigou taxes on banks.

So far as I know, his critics do not suggest that he is really personally deficient, but that he is a problem because (1) he worked in the Clinton Administration under Robert Rubin and/or (2) he received money from Goldman Sachs.  To me, the first part is actually a recommendation, but I feel the need to comment on the second.

Goldman Sachs has done things for which it should not be proud.  Does that mean that anyone who worked at/for the place should be disqualified from government?  In its history, the Ford Motor Company has done unlovely things; Boeing has done some not-so-great things; I am not please at some of the things my one-time employer, Freddie Mac, has done.  This does not mean people who worked at Ford, Boeing and Freddie Mac should be disqualified from government.  All these places, as well as Goldman Sachs, have many intelligent, honest, capable people.

If you have a beef with the substance of Sperling, fine.  If you think Furman would be better in the job, that is fine too.  But guilt by association is just too easy, and has its own ugly history.

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About Richard K. Green 103 Articles

Affiliation: University of Southern California

Richard K. Green, Ph.D., is the Director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. He holds the Lusk Chair in Real Estate and is Professor in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development and the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.

Prior to joining the USC faculty, Dr. Green spent four years as the Oliver T. Carr, Jr., Chair of Real Estate Finance at The George Washington University School of Business. He was Director of the Center for Washington Area Studies and the Center for Real Estate and Urban Studies at that institution. Dr. Green also taught real estate finance and economics courses for 12 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was Wangard Faculty Scholar and Chair of Real Estate and Urban Land Economics. He also has been principal economist and director of financial strategy and policy analysis at Freddie Mac.

His research addresses housing markets, housing policy, tax policy, transportation, mortgage finance and urban growth. He is a member of two academic journal editorial boards, and a reviewer for several others.

His work is published in a number of journals including the American Economic Review, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Journal of Urban Economics, Land Economics, Regional Science and Urban Economics, Real Estate Economics, Housing Policy Debate, Journal of Housing Economics, and Urban Studies.

His book with Stephen Malpezzi, A Primer on U.S. Housing Markets and Housing Policy, is used at universities throughout the country. His work has been cited or he has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and the Economist, as well as other outlets.

Dr. Green earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his A.B. in economics from Harvard University.

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