World's elite gathers for Davos 2014

Summers: Fix US economy? Try fixing JFK

Larry Summers, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary and Harvard President, thinks the U.S. economic recovery is disappointing, and that the government needs to spend more on infrastructure to help stimulate growth.

Summers, an adviser to the Obama administration in its early days, expressed his disappointment with the direction of U.S. monetary policy.

Lawrence Summers
Getty Images

(Read more: Summers and Osborne slug it out)

With the U.S. able to borrow money for 30 years in the 3 percent range, and the construction unemployment rate in double digits, Summers argued: if now was not "the moment to fix Kennedy airport, when will that moment ever come?"

"It is tragic that we are bequeathing to our children a deficit in the form of massive deferred maintenance," he told a CNBC debate on the future of monetary policy at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The renowned economist, who was tipped as a potential successor to Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, has been criticized for his Keynesian pro-stimulus views. He stuck to his belief that what the U.S. really needs is spending on public infrastructure projects.

"The U.S. economy has gained essentially nothing on previous estimates of its potential," he argued.

"Our growth has only been sufficient to keep up with population growth and normal productivity growth, and performance hasn't been that good in other parts of the industrial world. And that is what has led me to a deep concern about the nature of structural changes in the industrial world."

- By CNBC's Catherine Boyle. Twitter: @cboylecnbc.