I know both Janet Yellen and Larry Summers, the two economists said to be the top candidates to replace outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Their main difference seems to be style rather than substance.
It is correct to say that Yellen, the Fed's vice chair, is the safer pick. But sometimes, the riskier choice has a big payback.
Former Treasury Secretary Summers, with his larger-than-life persona, may ruffle feathers, create a confirmation battle and generate volatility in the market initially. But, as we learned with Paul Volcker in the 1970s and '80s, high risk and volatility early in the tenure of a new chair give the opportunity for earning credibility early. And that can have unexpected value later on.
It is a very close call between Yellen and Summers — closer than many seem to assume.