Whoa, what just happened? In the last day, Larry Summers went from another face in the pack in the race to replace Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairmanrace to the front-runner.
The buzz has hit fever pitch, and the White House has even weighed in, in its own indirect way. President Obama reportedly "really likes" Summers, in the words of the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, whose Tuesday-afternoon blog post amped up the Summers buzz. CNBC's John Harwood also heard from a source close to Obama that Summers "should be" the Bernanke successor.
Still, it doesn't matter if the president really likes his pick if other people don't get behind him. Below, U.S. News has broken down the people who might oppose a Larry Summers-led central bank, and why.
1. Yellen boosters
Until the last few days, Janet Yellen was the leading name in the handicapping for a new Fed chairman. There are plenty of reasons why she had been favored: For one, she's almost there already, as the Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve. She's also very qualified, having headed the San Francisco Fed and Council of Economic Advisers before she became Ben Bernanke's No. 2.
Yellen also has plenty of smart people on her side. Former FDIC chair Sheila Bair penned a strong endorsement of Yellen in Fortune this week, saying that "there is no better qualified candidate" than Yellen and noting that she was one of the earliest central bankers to recognize the risks of the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
Summers, as a former Treasury Secretary under Clinton and chairman of the National Economic Council under Obama, has his own impressive resume, of course.
"He's very knowledgeable, he understands the system, he understands how financial markets work, he has a real network in both Wall Street and national politics," says Robert Shapiro, chairman of economic and political advisory firm Sonecon and a former under secretary of Commerce for economic affairs. However, Shapiro adds, Yellen is also very knowledgeable, and she comes with the bonus of nearly a decade of Federal Reserve experience.
"[Summers'] experience is not in that context, as opposed to Janet Yellen," he says.
2. Deregulation opponents
Larry Summers was part of the Clinton-era economic team that introduced the Gramm-Leach-Billey act, as Quartz pointed out last week. That law, which removed barriers between investment and commercial banks, was one contributing factor to the financial crisis.
It would be "patently absurd" to pin the crisis on Summers, says Shapiro, as plenty of high-ranking government officials in both Congress and the executive branch pushed for deregulation.
Still, Summers' position on regulation has set off alarm bells for some. The former Treasury secretary has not moderated his views on financial regulation since the crisis: He has on multiple occasions defended his role in deregulating banks during the Clinton era. For that reason, Summers is not a top prospect to lead the Fed among those who want a closer watch on banks.
"The Fed, now more than ever, is the linchpin going forward of financial regulation, and so I want someone who has laid down some real markers that 'we take a skeptical eye toward activities in finance,'" says Josh Bivens, research and policy director at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.
OK, this is overstating the case. By no means are all women watching eagerly to see who becomes the next Fed chairman, nor are all women going to remember Summers' now-infamous 2005 remarks as president of Harvard University, when he gave a speech implying that women and men are biologically wired to have different scientific and mathematical aptitudes.
But for those who do remember, the sting remains. Women's advocacy group UltraViolet has released a statement arguing against a Summers pick:
"Summers has a long history of making sexist comments and the Federal Reserve has so much control over our economy – an economy that's hitting women and families especially hard right now"
It's not just that incident that has some women ready for a Yellen chairmanship. In her Fortune endorsement of Yellen, Bair commented that central banking is "one segment of our federal government that has yet to break the glass ceiling," and urged against picking any of the other rumored contenders like former Treasury Secretaries Tim Geithner and Robert Rubin.
"There is no reason to pass [Yellen] over for less-qualified males," wrote Bair. "Yellen already has a "Y" in her name; she doesn't need one in her chromosomes."
That's not all, of course: If nominated, Summers would have to contend with Republicans on Capitol Hill, who may be turned off by his political baggage from two Democratic presidencies, not to mention his role as a major proponent of President Obama's 2009 stimulus package.
And even if confirmed, one of the broader Summers criticisms is of his temperament, which may not be suited to the Fed chairmanship, say some experts.
"I think the bigger issue is going to be management style," says Guy LeBas, chief fixed income strategist at investment firm Janney Montgomery Scott. "Larry Summers is known to be extremely assertive with his opinions, whereas Dr. Yellen is known to be a bit more passive and flexible with hers." In heading up a Federal Open Market Committee composed of both inflation hawks and doves, Yellen might therefore be better at building consensus.