Economic Principals Is Traveling

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SAN DIEGO – Economic Principals is traveling, attending the annual meetings of the Allied Social Science Associations, and not writing this week – not much, anyway.

Former Federal Reserve Board chair Janet Yellen, incoming president of the American Economic Association, organized its sessions, including several exploring new departures in supervision in the wake of the 2007-08 financial crisis.  Ben Bernanke, her predecessor in both roles, delivered his presidential address, “Twenty-first Century Monetary Policy.”

Emi Nakamura, of the University of California at Berkeley, received this year’s John Bates Clark Medal for having made a significant contribution to the discipline before the age of forty.

Luncheon talks by Lint Barrage, of the University of California at Santa Barbara; Robert Gordon, of Northwestern University; Charles Jones, of Stanford University; and George Akerlof, of Georgetown University, celebrated the 2018 Nobel Prize shared by William Nordhaus, of Yale University, and Paul Romer, of New York University. (See a webcast here.)

The careers of two men dominated the proceedings. which were attended by more than 15,000 economists.

Nobel laureate Angus Deaton, author, with Ann Case (both of Princeton University), of Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism (Princeton, 2020), was everywhere.

Deaton participated in “Beyond GDP,” a panel on proposals for various new measures of social welfare. He appraised the National Academy of Sciences Child Poverty Report; on one panel of the Econometric Society he discussed the sources and consequence of inequality and speculated on the future of econometrics in the twenty-first century on another. He participated, with Case, his wife, in a discussion of their book by, Raghuram Rajan, of the University of Chicago, Robert Putnam, and Kenneth Rogoff, both of Harvard University. (see a webcast here.)

Alan Krueger, also of Princeton University, who died, at 58, on March 16, was present mainly in one session, a panel describing his contributions as a pioneer of new methods in applied labor economics. With a series of collaborators, he anticipated and described many of the dolorous outcomes described after the fact by Deaton and Case.

Lawrence Katz, of Harvard University; David Card, of the University of California at Berkeley; Lisa Lynch, of Brandeis University; and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, of the Brookings Institution, described Krueger’s contributions to a “credibility revolution,” involving a variety of methods rapidly making themselves felt throughout the profession. (See a webcast here.)

More on each man in due course.