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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Financial Advisers and Paraplanners

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This extremely successful and well-established...

Guru Careers: FX Trader / Risk Manager

Competitive with monthly bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced FX...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?