Advocacy Economists Participate in AEA Meetings

Two Advocacy economists, Dr. Jules Lichtenstein and Dr. Ying Lowrey, presented papers at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (AEA). This year’s meeting took place January 3-5 in Atlanta. It was held in conjunction with approximately 50 other social sciences associations and included over 450 scholarly sessions and 9,000 attendees.

 Dr. Lichtenstein presented his paper at a session sponsored by the Society of Government Economists. The paper, “Retirement Plan Savings Behavior of Business Owners: Analysis of SIPP Data,” analyzes the relative importance of business and business-owner characteristics in determining how business owners and the self-employed save for themselves and make retirement savings opportunities available to their employees. Key results indicate that homeownership and involvement in other retirement savings accounts are the most significant factors affecting Individual Retirement Account and 401(k) plan participation.

 Dr. Lowrey chaired a historical session and presented a paper co-authored with Professor William Baumol called “Rapid Invention, Slow Industrialization, and the Absent Innovative Entrepreneur in Medieval China.” Their study provided a lesson from China’s history that could resonate for contemporary economies, namely that if the payoff structure fails to promote productive innovation, the economy may decline drastically.

Other meeting highlights included a presentation by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, “Monetary Policy and the Housing Bubble.” Bernanke concluded that the magnitude of house price gains from 2002 to 2006 seemed too large to be readily explained from the stance of monetary policy alone. In Bernanke’s view, the best response to the housing bubble would have been regulatory not monetary. The program also included a memorial session to Nobel-prize winning economist Paul A. Samuelson. 

On a lighter note, the meeting launched the world premiere of “Fear the Boom and Bust: Hayek vs. Keynes in a Rap Video Face Off.” This music video is a product of—a web portal into understanding the world of macroeconomics that is just being launched.

—by Jules Lichtenstein and Ying Lowrey
Senior Economists

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