Outlook: Famous double act draws to a close

ROBERT RUBIN has finally found the right moment to step down in favour of Lawrence Summers, his deputy at the US Treasury. His intention is to return to private life in New York, but will he hold to it? Or can he be lured back into public office, as Wall Street hopes, to replace Alan Greenspan at the US Federal Reserve?

Succession is always a delicate matter in public life as much as business, and never more so than when it comes to replacing those who retire from the two top jobs in managing the US and world economy. Any sensible chief executive will, like a sports star, try to leave on a high note. Mr Rubin certainly seems to have managed this - the world crisis is over, the US economy has clocked up eight years of expansion, and Wall Street remains close to its all time record.

But in public life, the verdict of posterity is important. Mr Rubin is also handing over the reins to somebody with whom he has worked closely for the past four years. Mr Summers has taken a leading role in responding to the global economic and financial crisis. Mr Greenspan is one of the team too. As a recent adulatory Time magazine cover feature on Bob, Larry and Alan noted, they even play tennis together.

The fact that the dive in shares, bonds and the dollar was so limited yesterday reveals the essential similarity of Mr Rubin and Mr Summers in the eyes of the financial markets. Even though the former is an urbane Wall Street investment banker who made millions at Goldman Sachs before going into public life, and the latter an often brusque Harvard economist, there is not a whisker between them on policy. Some members of Congress will give Mr Summers a rough ride at his confirmation hearing, but the markets will welcome his nomination. It will be much harder to ensure a smooth transition at the Fed when the time comes for the revered Mr Greenspan to go. He has been in the job since August 1987 - his first challenge was responding to the crash that October. His current term ends in June 2000, though this might be extended by convention until the new President takes office the following January. By that time he will be nearing 75.

If Wall Street has crashed disastrously by then, the idol of the financial markets will turn out to have had feet of clay all along. But in that case President Al Gore - if it is he - might be all the more inclined to try and lure Mr Rubin back into the public eye.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Adviser - OTE £24,500

£22500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Inbound and outbound calls with...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £40,000

£18000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Insurance Bro...

Guru Careers: Research Associate / Asset Management Research Analyst

£40 - 45k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Research Associate / Research Anal...

Ashdown Group: Chief Technology Officer (CTO) - Glasgow

£90000 - £98000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A truly exciting opportu...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food