Larry Summers talks economics in Irvine

The Daily Pennsylvanian
October 22, 2009

Larry Summers

National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers spoke at Irvine Auditorium about global climate change and the stimulus package.

Zachary Wasserman
The Daily Pennsylvanian

From writing and finance to global climate change and stimulus packages, Lawrence Summers proved to Penn students yesterday that economics encompasses more than meets the eye.

Summers, director of the National Economic Council and assistant to President Barack Obama for economic policy, spoke at the first annual Weber Symposium at the Kelly Writers House as well as the Granoff Forum in Irvine Auditorium. During both events, Summers focused on economic issues pertinent to students and faculty alike.

At the Granoff Forum, Summers addressed a broad audience regarding global changes. He gave students a new perspective on the role of economics around the world-- discussing global warming, standards of living, developing countries and education.

He explained that in all likelihood, the 'major story of our times' will be the ascent of developed countries and what this means globally.

The speech was followed by a question-and-answer session during which Summers responded to student inquiries regarding tax cuts, standard of life and the stimulus package.

"The fact that he chose to talk about international development, as opposed to a drier subject, was interesting," Wharton sophomore Jeremy Goldman said. "More importantly, he talked about the future, which affects us most."

During the Weber Symposium, Summers discussed the concept of communication as it relates to finance and economics -- an idea that, he claimed, may seem counter-intuitive.

"[The event] couldn't have been better," Kelly professor and faculty director of the Kelly Writers House Al Filreis said. "Students were really engaged and it was great to get a very powerful person in a [small] writers house."

The talk's audience of about 40 students and faculty members comprised writers and economics majors, Wharton students involved in the Kelly Writers House and others whose careers employ both business and communication.

"I went because I wanted to see one of the great economists of our time talk about how to reason and express himself clearly," Wharton freshman Steve Levick said. "Summers writes in such a way that non-experts can be interested and ... understand the economic concepts that affect their every day lives."

The Weber Symposium was founded by Stacey Gillis Weber and her husband Jeffrey Weber to focus on writing as it pertains to business.

"The goal [of the program] is to create an opportunity to let students at the university know that there is a tremendous value to communicating and writing," Gillis Weber, a Wharton alumnus, said.