Lawrence Summers has removed his name from the running to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, according to reports. Summers informed President Obama of his decision in a phone call Sunday. The withdrawal was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
“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 said in a letter he sent to Obama after their phone call.
Summers had been seen as a frontrunner to replace Ben Bernanke, whose term expires in January. But he faced opposition from Democrats in Congress, for reasons that include his role in helping to deregulate the financial industry under President Clinton, as The Washington Post reported in a recent article on the possible political battle over his nomination.
The other top candidate is widely seen as Janet Yellen, the head of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank who was appointed by Obama to be the vice chairman of the Fed in 2010.
“Earlier today, I spoke with Larry Summers and accepted his decision to withdraw his name from consideration for Chairman of the Federal Reserve,” Obama said, in a White House statement released Sunday afternoon.
The president continued, “Larry was 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.”
In withdrawing his name, Summers told Obama that he will continue to support efforts “to reform our financial system so that no President ever again faces what you and your economic team faced upon taking office in 2009.”
A former Treasury secretary, Summers was until late 2010 one of Obama’s key economic advisers, serving as the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council. Since then, he has been a professor at Harvard University, an institution that he once led.
Earlier this month, a group of more than 350 economists signed a letter to President Obama that backs Yellen as the next chief of the Federal Reserve.