Martin Feldstein, 1939-2019
and NBER President Emeritus
Martin Feldstein, president of the NBER for nearly 30 years, George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University, chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1982 to 1984, and one of the most prolific and influential economists of the last half century, passed away on Tuesday, June 11. He was 79.
Feldstein’s leadership of the NBER had a profound and lasting effect on applied economic research. He was appointed president of the NBER in 1977 and, aside from his years of CEA service, served in this role until 2008. He transformed the organization and created the network structure that today encompasses nearly 1,600 affiliated scholars. He moved the NBER headquarters from New York City to Cambridge, launched the NBER Summer Institute and regular meetings of program groups, and promoted NBER working papers as an important channel for dissemination of economic research. Feldstein recognized the value of enhanced communication, at conferences and through sharing pre-publication manuscripts, in advancing research progress. He authored or coauthored 165 NBER working papers and edited 19 NBER books.
Press reports on contributors to market volatility have long emphasized news about GDP, inflation, and other economic aggregates, but policy is increasingly cited as a cause of big swings, analysis of reports in 11 major U.S. newspapers finds. A summary is featured in the current edition of the free, monthly NBER Digest. Other studies in this month’s Digest gauge the effectiveness of Facebook's efforts to rein in misinformation, analyze the capacity of federal tax credits to induce purchases of electric vehicles, investigate the relationship between automation and the labor share, and gauge the effects of investor expectations on portfolio composition, and measure the health impacts on families that include a doctor.
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) highlight the potential of this technology to affect productivity, growth, inequality, market power, innovation, and employment. This newly published NBER conference report, edited by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb, seeks to set the agenda for research on AI’s economic impacts. It covers four broad themes: AI as a general purpose technology; the relationships between AI, growth, jobs, and inequality; regulatory responses to changes brought on by AI; and the effects of AI on the way economic research is conducted. It explores the economic influence of machine learning, the branch of computational statistics that has driven much of the recent excitement around AI, as well as the economic impact of robotics and automation and the potential economic consequences of a still-hypothetical artificial general intelligence.
In OECD countries over the period 1980–2017, countries with lower debt-to-GDP ratios responded to financial distress with much more expansionary fiscal policy and suffered much less severe aftermaths, according to new research by Christina D. Romer and David H. Romer.
From 1989 through 2017, $23 trillion of real equity wealth was created by the nonfinancial corporate sector, of which 54 percent was attributable to a reallocation of rents to shareholders in a decelerating economy, according to an analysis by Daniel L. Greenwald, Martin Lettau, and Sydney C. Ludvigson.
How Big Data Techniques Are Being Used
to Measure the Political Risk Facing Firms
Tarek A. Hassan of Boston University and the NBER explains that he and his colleagues are applying textual analysis to some 30 million pages of transcripts of conversations between firms and analysts to measure the risk businesses face from political developments such as Brexit and mundane concerns such as the effects of government regulation.
With tension ratcheting up in U.S.-China trade relations The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and many other national media outlets are full of reports on the trade war between the world’s biggest economies.
The impacts of the conflict have been extensively researched by NBER affiliates in studies such as: