Category Archives: Pollin

Robert Pollin says the way to promote clean energy is to put money directly into its production and development and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Robert Pollin says the way to promote clean energy is to put money directly into its production and development and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. He says the long-term goal is to eliminate fossil fuel companies by making their markets contract. Other environmentalists are pushing for disinvestment in fossil fuels as a way to restrain the industry.  (Financial Times, 7/30/18)

The Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, the group behind a clean energy and economic equity ballot initiative in Washington State, used an economic analysis by Robert Pollin and a team from from the Political Economy Research Institute to develop the measure.

The Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, the group behind a clean energy and economic equity ballot initiative in Washington State, used an economic analysis by Robert Pollin and a team from from the Political Economy Research Institute to develop the measure. Initiative 1631 calls for massive reductions in CO2 emissions, carbon emission fees for big polluters and job retraining for workers in fossil fuel-reliant industries. (The Nation, 7/20/18)

Robert Pollin says the way to promote clean energy is to put money directly into its production and development and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Robert N. Pollin says the way to promote clean energy is to put money directly into its production and development and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. He says the long-term goal is to eliminate fossil fuel companies by making their markets contract. Other environmentalists are pushing for disinvestment in fossil fuels as a way to restrain the industry.  (Financial Times, 7/30/18)

Robert Pollin comments in a news story about Madeline Janis, who pioneered local hiring agreements in the Los Angeles area.

Robert N. Pollin, Distinguished Professor in economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, comments in a news story about Madeline Janis, who pioneered local hiring agreements in the Los Angeles area. Pollin told Janis that existing Buy America policies were inadequate and encouraged her to develop the Jobs for America program, a nonprofit group that works to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. (The American Prospect, 4/9/18)

Media buzz over Reinhart-Rogoff Critique continues

Thomas Herndon

Thomas Herndon

On April 15, UMass Amherst Economics Department Graduate Student Thomas Herndon and Professors Michael Ash and Robert Pollin published a working paper titled, Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff. In the paper the authors examine Reinhart and Rogoff’s research on the relationship between public debt and GDP growth for advanced economies in the post-World War II period. Reinhart and Rogoff argue that the rate of economic growth for these countries has consistently declined precipitously once the level of government debt exceeds 90 percent of the country’s GDP. In recent years, Reinhart and Rogoff’s results have been highly influential as support for austerity policies in both Europe and the United States.

Herndon, Ash and Pollin find that a series of data errors and unsupportable statistical techniques led to an inaccurate representation of the actual relationship between public debt levels and GDP growth. They find that when properly calculated, average GDP growth for advanced economies at public debt-to-GDP ratios over 90 percent is not dramatically different than when debt-to-GDP ratios are lower.

Almost immediately the Herndon, Ash, Pollin findings went viral with lots of social media buzz on Twitter and Facebook. The story has continued to garner extensive national and international coverage. Below is a list of media coverage since June 2013, including the Mother Jones cover story for September/October.

In January 2010, as the global economy was slowly beginning to claw its way out of the depths of the Great Recession, the Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff published a short paper with a grim message: Too much debt kills economic growth. They had compiled a comprehensive database of debt episodes throughout the 20th century, and their data told an unmistakable story: Time and again, countries that rack up high debt levels have gone on to suffer years—sometimes decades—of stagnation.

As economics studies go, it was nothing short of a bombshell. As its conclusions were invoked from Washington to Brussels, tackling the recession suddenly became less important than tackling deficits. For the next three years, stimulus was out, austerity was in, and the protests of critics were all but buried amid the headlong rush to slash spending.

But then, on April 15 of this year, a trio of researchers at the University of Massachusetts published a paper that took a fresh look at Reinhart and Rogoff’s study. It turned out there was a problem: R&R had presented data from a list of 20 countries that filled lines 30 through 49 on a spreadsheet. But the formula that calculated the results relied on lines 30 through 44. Oops.

On its own, the spreadsheet error had only a modest effect on the paper’s conclusions, but the UMass team had other, weightier criticisms that taken together called R&R’s conclusions into serious question. Still, under ordinary circumstances the whole thing would have been little more than a dry academic debate.

But these were far from ordinary circumstances. Like a well-aimed snowball that sets off an avalanche, the UMass paper changed everything.

Washington Post Wonkblog, 9/19/13
Everything you need to know about the deficit

Quartz.com, 6/12/13
Economists looked even closer at Reinhart and Rogoff’s data—and the results might surprise you

Boston Globe Magazine, 6/9/13
A Greek tragedy?

Sydney Morning Herald, 6/8/13
Economists don boxing gloves and start swinging

New Straits Times, 6/7/13
When a study goes ‘rogue’

The Globe And Mail, 6/5/13
Rogoff-Reinhart put cart before the horse

Financial Advisor, 6/4/13
Krugman Criticized For Attacking Harvard Economists On Flawed Data

TruthDig.com, 5/31/13
Not ‘A Shred of Evidence’ to Support Reinhart and Rogoff

Dollars & Sense, May-June 2013
Greece and the Crisis of Europe: Which Way Out?

 

 

Slow growth means higher debt: Dube’s research reversing Reinhart-Rogoff cited

Arindrajit Dube

Arindrajit Dube

After UMass economics graduate student Thomas Herndon and professors Robert Pollin and Michael Ash blew the lid off of data errors in Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff’s “Growth in a Time of Debt,” professor Arindrajit Dube determined that high public debt was more likely after a period of slow economic growth than before a period of slow growth. This indicates that slow growth is the driver of increasing debt, not that high debt diminishes growth. Dylan Matthews of The Washington Post’s “Wonkblog” recently cited Dube’s research (additionally he made a short mention of Herndon, Pollin and Ash):

Everything you need to know about the deficit – The Washington Post
9/19/13

And indeed, analyses after Reinhart and Rogoff’s confirmed that the causal arrow went from slow growth to high debt, not the other way around. Arindrajit Dube, an economist at UMass Amherst, found that high debt loads are better correlated with slow growth before the debt gets that large as opposed to after, indicating that it’s the slow growth causing the debt and not the other way around:

The left chart correlates debt-to-GDP ratios of a given year to the GDP growth rates of the next three years. If debt is causing slow growth, there should be a strong relationship. But except at the very low end, there isn’t. Meanwhile, the right chart correlates debt-to-GDP ratios of a given year to GDP growth rates of the previous three years. There’s a very strong relationship, indicating that slow growth causes high debt and not the other way around.

Pollin: US has lowest min wage, highest youth unemployment

Robert Pollin, co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) and professor of economics, appeared on The Real News Network to discuss the low minimum wage of the U.S., which, when adjusted for inflation, is lower in 2013 than it was in 1968. Pollin also postulated that, if you corrected the minimum wage for both inflation and increased worker productivity, it should be closer to $25 per hour; the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

 

Pollin: US has lowest minimum wage and most unemployed youth of wealthy nations

Robert Pollin, UMass Amherst professor of economics and co-founder of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), was interviewed by The Real News Network regarding the U.S. minimum wage and youth without jobs.

The minimum wage in the country right now, at $7.25 an hour, is about $3 an hour–more than $3 an hour below what it actually was in 1968 in this country. In 1968 in this country, the minimum wage, after we properly adjust for inflation, was $10.65 an hour. That means in 1968–let’s take a young girl in Texas walking into her job at McDonald’s on the first day. Legally she would have to have been paid $10.65 an hour. That’s in 1968. So the proposal by Congressman Alan Grayson is basically just to bring the United States minimum wage today back to where it was in 1968.

Department Profiled in The Washington Post

In the wake of the Herndon paper, The Washington Post profiled the UMass Amherst Department of Economics, providing a detailed history of the department’s growth and development over the last 40-plus years. Interviewed for the piece were Professors Richard Wolff, Gerald Epstein, Nancy Folbre, Arindrajit Dube and Robert Pollin.

The Washington Post
Inside the offbeat economics department that debunked Reinhart-Rogoff
Posted by Dylan Matthews on April 24, 2013 at 4:00 pm

It was surprising to learn last week that Harvard professors Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart’s argument for austerity is based in part on an Excel blooper. What’s not surprising is who found it out.

The rebuttal came in the form of a paper released by the Political Economy Research Institute, a group at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst with close ties to its economics department. Two of its authors, Michael Ash and Robert Pollin, are UMass professors, and the other, Thomas Herndon, is a grad student in the department. No one who knows the UMass department was surprised they’d trained their considerable analytical firepower on Reinhart and Rogoff. Amherst has, over the past 40 years, developed a reputation as perhaps the single most important heterodox economics department in the country.

It wasn’t always that way. In the 1960s, it was a fairly mainstream department, with a moderately conservative inclination, according to emeritus professor and influential Marxist economist Richard D. Wolff. It employed Vernon Smith, a noted libertarian who shared the 2002 Nobel, from 1968 to 1972, and Hugo Sonnenschein, who would go on to be president of the University of Chicago, from 1970 to 1973.

That was when things started to change. The tipping point, Wolff says, was the denial of tenure for Michael Best, a popular, left-leaning junior professor. “He had a lot of student support, and because it was the 1960s students were given to protest,” Wolff recalls. That, and unrelated personality tensions with the administration, inspired the mainstreamers to start leaving. Read more…