| CHICAGO, Sept 14
CHICAGO, Sept 14 Former U.S. Treasury Secretary
Lawrence Summers has pulled out of speaking engagements and
other events involving Citigroup Inc while President
Barack Obama considers whether to nominate the Harvard economist
as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, the bank said in a
"Mr. Summers has withdrawn from participation in all Citi
events while he is under consideration to be Chairman of the
Federal Reserve," Danielle Romero-Apsilos, a spokeswoman for the
third-biggest U.S. lender, said in a statement e-mailed to
Reuters on Saturday.
Summers, a former economic adviser to Obama, has bowed out
of a keynote address on global economic challenges at a
Citigroup research seminar next month, according to a Bloomberg
While Summers is widely thought to be Obama's preferred
choice to replace Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke when his term is up
in January, an unusually vitriolic public debate has erupted
over that possibility in recent months.
The White House said on Friday that the president had not
yet made up his mind on who should lead the U.S. central bank -
a decision that traditionally has generated little interest
beyond Wall Street and academia.
But since Summers emerged as a lead contender for the job
this summer, his history as a consultant to large financial
institutions including Citigroup has fueled debate among critics
and lawmakers about his suitability for the top Fed job.
Summers has been praised as a brilliant economist and a
shrewd policymaker. But his work with financial firms has
critics maintaining that his relationship with Wall Street is
too cozy to maintain the Fed's vaunted independence.
The central bank plays a key role in guiding the world's
largest economy and has taken on new oversight responsibilities
following the worst U.S. financial crisis since the Great
Summers, who has also been paid to write a column for
Reuters, was a key economic adviser to Obama in his 2008
campaign as well as during his first term. After heading the
White House National Economic Council, he left the
administration in 2010 to pursue a career in the private sector.
Some Democrats are not happy with Summers, who served as
Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, because he
backed banking deregulation in the 1990s, which they believe
sowed the seeds for the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
The financial crisis led to a massive taxpayer bailout of
Wall Street that continues to anger many ordinary Americans and
could become another issue for Summers.
Four Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee are now
expected to vote "No" if Obama nominates Summers as the next
chair of the Federal Reserve, further complicating one of the
most vital decisions of his second term.
Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen is also a candidate for the job.
A letter urging her nomination has been signed by 20 Senate
Democrats. If nominated and confirmed, Yellen would be the
first-ever woman to lead the U.S. central bank.