In a recent post for The Berkeley Blog, Professor Robert Reich proposes that the federal government respond to our ongoing recession by initiating a new Works Progress Administration (WPA). Almost seventy years having passed since the closing of the original New Deal “alphabet agencies,” recent oral history interviews can help us better comprehend the ongoing impact of these programs. A major aspect of the New Deal was the creation of over 100 federally-sponsored offices, so nicknamed “alphabet agencies” due to their near-obsessive propensity for acronyms. As a historian of museums and anthropology I have studied the extensive impact of alphabet … More >
Ever heard of Route 128? To my surprise, neither have any of my students at Duke or the entrepreneurs I’ve met in Silicon Valley. I’m surprised because it wasn’t so long ago that Silicon Valley was considered a poor cousin of Boston’s tech center—a cluster of technology companies located along this freeway which partially rings the city. Starting in the 1960s and on through the 1980s, Route 128 was, if anything, more closely associated with tech than Silicon Valley. Today few young technology workers even know where Route 128 is located, let alone its importance in the tech world. Silicon … More >
When no one buys what you produce, you lose your job (or, if you own the company, your business). The U.S. economy has suffered millions of job losses because we are not spending enough to keep everyone in their jobs. Look at Table B-1 of the BLS monthly jobs report and it’s clear: every industry other than health care has lost jobs in the last year.
So in a sense, the solution is clear: more spending. Lots more spending. More spending for goods & services will put people back to work. Buy a new house (construction workers get work. So do … More >
Economic policy is full of challenging decisions where the right answer is unclear. It is fortunate, then, that the tragedy of our current economic conditions makes one policy response very clear: We must help state and local governments maintain the spending they had planned a year ago.
Right now almost all of the state governors are cutting spending and/or raising taxes in an effort to close their state budget gaps. The result of these dozens of little Hoovers — and of the hundreds of mayors who are following similar policies — is predictable and disastrous. Just when the economy needs more … More >