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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Larry Summers Visits Google

Interesting titbit: Sheryl Sandberg, Google's VP of International Sales and Operations, used to be Larry Summer's Chief of Staff, when he worked for the Clinton administration.

The talk itself is the usual globalization talk you can get from anyone who's a serious thinker (Robert Reich, Brad Delong, etc). He kept it short and relatively free of long words and jargon, but it was the questions that were interesting.

Interesting quotes:

Q: There is now a shortage of men in higher education compared to women. Do you have any idea what to do about it?
A: I've learned over the years never to take the last question... It is a tribute to Google that maybe here, I shouldn't even take the first. I don't believe the shortage of men is due to social discrimination...

Q: Given the neither parties have historically enacted policies to protect citizens from the negative impact of globalization, how long do you expect there to still be support for free trade among the populance? It seems to me that support is steadily eroding for free trade.
A: Free trade is one of those things that's tough to sell. Here's an example. Let's say you're a mediocre performer in a mediocre company, but because of free trade your company's sales go through the roof and you get a promotion. Do you say, "Thank god for free trade, so I got my promotion!"? But let's say because of foreign competition your company has to shut down and you lose your job. Now you know who to blame! So we internalize our success, and externalize our failures. But the tone of your question is the right one --- in the long term, we're going to have to provide mitigation like wage insurance if there's going to be any hope at all of keeping public support for free trade.

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