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Larry Summers, former U.S. Treasury Secretary. Photo by Bloomberg.
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Larry Summers on Trump’s ‘Tragic Precedent,’ TikTok and Regulation

Photo: Larry Summers, former U.S. Treasury Secretary. Photo by Bloomberg.

It was a week of shattering precedents as President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. Treasury would exact a bounty for allowing the sale of TikTok and signed an executive order that would block U.S. companies from doing deals with the video app and with Chinese messaging service WeChat. 

So I reached out to someone who knows a little bit about U.S.-China relations as well as the Treasury Department. 

Larry Summers was U.S. secretary of the treasury under President Bill Clinton and director of the National Economic Council under President Barack Obama. 

I first knew him as President Summers when I, a cub college reporter for the Harvard Crimson, hounded him for interviews. Since then, I’ve listened to him give a few talks at tech conferences, where he’s on the circuit. He’s an advisor to crypto investor Digital Currency Group and he’s on the board of Square. 

I reached Summers Friday on Cape Cod, as he prepared to teach economics remotely at Harvard University this fall. We discussed his views on a potential tech bubble, where he thinks tech regulation should go, Trump’s “holdup play” with TikTok, and Summers’ optimism about the U.S. and yet why it should remain paranoid that it could become complacent in its prosperity, like Edwardian England.

Slightly edited excerpts below.

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