Saturday, November 02, 2002

Robert Rubins speaks at Chicago GSB

Recently, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil came to speak at U Chicago. He was a nice enough fellow, but kinda dumb. He began by talking for 40 minutes on improving safety at Alcoa, for reasons which remain opaque to me. This being Chicago, the Q&A session focused on securities regulation and tax policy. About 10 minutes into it, Paul encouraged us to ask questions about his trip to Africa with Bono. We laughed, and then refocused on Glass-Steagal.

Yesterday, Robert Rubin, Treasury Secretary under Clinton, came to speak at the school. The contrasts between these two men were staggering. Rubin is a very very smart and thoughtful man. O'Neil just seemed way out of his league. The 30 minute Q&A afterwards spanned everything from expansionary fiscal and monetary policy, moral hazard in emerging market financing, total factor productivity growth and economic expansion, and market consequences of Reg-FD. Rubin handled them all intelligently without breaking a sweat. Unfortunately, he is no longer in charge. I am afraid.


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