Welcome to the Hale Podcast and the latest episode of our podcast series. Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Professor Robert J Gordon, the Stanley G. Harris Professor of Economics at Northwestern University. His chosen topic: The Knowns and Unknowns of the Covid Economy. He is an authority on a topic that presents one of the greatest economic puzzles of our time: productivity.
Professor Gordon has particular interests in unemployment, inflation, and labor productivity. His widely lauded book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, was published by Princeton University Press in 2016. He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Economic Association. In 2016 he was named by Bloomberg as one of the fifty most influential people in the world.
Gordon in his study in Evanston, Illinois. For more than three decades, Professor Gordon has been a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research's Business Cycle Dating Committee which determines the start and end dates for recessions in the United States. Are we in a recession now? When did it start, and when did it end, and are we in danger of a double dip? His response: this year we have probably witnessed the most severe, yet shortest recession ever recorded in the US. Other topics we discussed:
The unique characteristics of the COVID economy
Limits of monetary policy at the Zero Bound
Temporary vs. permanent unemployment
Divergent effects on rich and poor
High saving and overall income distribution
Robust retail sales
Jump in productivity and average wages
Infrastructure and fiscal policy
Reasons for stock market ebullience
Are we defining productivity correctly?
What are the most worrying unknowns?
If you were advising the next Administration, what advice would you give?
Listen to our podcast to hear Professor Gordon's full comments and answers to these and other questions. I believe you will find it to be a very productive use of your time.