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The Boston Globe

Opinion

opinion | Michael S. Barr

Larry Summers attuned to both market and middle class

Back in 1995, when I was a staffer in President Clinton’s Treasury Department, Larry Summers read a book called “Fringe Banking,” by John Caskey, about how working folks were being pushed out of the banking system by high fees and hidden costs. Summers, who was then the deputy treasury secretary, set about using all the tools of the Treasury Department to help, from investments in community development financial institutions and new funds to expand access to rewriting obscure department regulations on delivering federal benefit payments.

I thought of that book, and Larry’s response to it, in light of the criticism being leveled at Summers as President Obama prepares to choose the next chair of the Federal Reserve. Summers has come under attack, unfairly in my view, for the policies he pursued as Clinton’s treasury secretary and Obama’s economic adviser. While Summers and I do not agree on everything, I believe the record shows that he is a vigorous, creative advocate for making the financial system work better for American families. I’ve dedicated my career to that goal, and Summers has been there every step of the way.

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