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Monday, May 19, 2014

Contemporary economists you should know: Austan Goolsbee

Contemporary economists you should know

They direct powerful institutions.  They have the ear of national leaders.  Their ideas influence world events on the daily, in very tangible ways.  And still, many economists are just not major public figures - at least not in the way that the journalists, politicians, activists and pundits who depend on them are.

In the next few posts, I want to introduce you to some of the most important people in economics today.  

By seeing there are actually faces behind these ideas, I think economic debates become a bit more fun to follow.  

I think it also will illustrate to you one of economics dirty little secrets - economists' personal world views can shape their policy views just as much as their technical insight, research, and calculation!

Why you should know Austan Goolsbee

You probably don't recognize the name.  But chances are, in the past few years, you've been exposed to his research.  In fact, you've heard talking heads on TV pick apart his research.  

Heck, you've probably posted snippets of his work on facebook, or discussed them among you're friends, without even being aware of it.

That's because, Austan Goolsbee has been - in so many words - Obama's economist.

Goolsbee, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, hooked up with Obama more than a decade ago, when Obama was running for Senate.  

He was Obama's chief economic adviser from the Senate campaign, right up until the start of Obama's second term as president (when Goolsbee decided he had had enough of Washington and wanted to go back to academia). 

Goolsbee saw the president through two of the most significant economic shake up of this era - the Great Recession (and subsequent recovery maneuvers), and the formulation/implementation of Obamacare.

Goolsbee was also researched the Obama's economic talking points.  

Whenever you heard Obama or Jay Carney say: "my opponents tax cuts would cost the govt X amount," or "this stimulus could create X jobs," or "regulating financial institutions would have such-and-such affect on the economy,"...these were facts and figures worked out by Mr. Goolsbee.

Get to know Goolsbee

You should have no fear about getting acquainted with this guy and his way of thinking.  Goolsbee is funny, speaks 'jargonlessly', and - most importantly - a wildly influential dude.  If you live in America, whoever you may be, the ideas of Austan Goolsbee have effected you personally.  Might as well meet the guy, right?

"Austan Goolsbee: Jobs, Politics, and America's Future"

A public interview with Goolsbee at the University of Chicago, right after his return from Washington.

This interview focuses on the Great Recession, and Obama's recovery strategies.

Highlight's include:
  • 1:15 - 7:23 The story of how Obama and Goolsbee got together
  • 17:07 - 24:55 Obama's stimulus package
  • 38:20 - 43:17 General Motors and how Obama handled 'differences of opinion' within his Cabinet
  • 1:10:01 - End General reflections on working in the Capitol

"Austan Goolsbee - Health Care and the Economy"

A short, but kind of technical lecture on Obamacare, given a year after Goolsbee left politics.

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