Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein is an economist and senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He was formerly chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden and a member of President Barack Obama’s economics team.

 

Recent Articles

States of Flux

Don't despair, progressives. I bring a message of hope, and it comes from those renowned laboratories of democracy: the states. I just returned from the annual meeting of the Economic Analysis and Research Network, or EARN, as we call it around here. EARN is a collaboration of progressive state-level organizations engaged in research and advocacy, and the message from this year's meeting was crystal clear: If anything good happens, it's going to happen in the states. The Economic Policy Institute helps to run the EARN network, and its director here at EPI is Michael Ettlinger. Michael was kind enough to grant me an interview for this story (translation: I mugged him at the water cooler). Michael's case -- that the states are where the action is -- builds off the contention that the next four years promise to be especially tough here in Washington. Many of the resources of nationally oriented groups will be consumed by pushing back against really bad ideas like social-security...

It's Still the Economy, Stupid

There are many lessons to be learned from the 2004 election, but one that the conservative pundits are sure to glean is that “It's not the economy, stupid.” That's what that other George W. (i.e., Will, on ABC's This Week ) said a few weeks before the election. “That's what we've learned. … the American economy is now so well run and so resilient and so productive, it's hard to dislodge it from wealth creation, and we've gone on I think to worry about other things.” Oregon's Democratic governor, Ted Kulongoski, quoted in The New York Times , put it this way: “The Republicans are smarter. They've created … these social issues to get the public to stop looking at what's happening to them economically. What we once thought -- that people would vote in their economic self-interest -- is not true, and we Democrats haven't figured out how to deal with that." This is no small matter. Is it possible that one of the areas in which the left has its greatest contribution to make will no longer...

The Squeeze is On

Other than vague generalities about turning corners, you don't hear a lot these days from the Republicans on how middle-income American families are doing. The strategy of the Bush campaign is to blame most of our economic woes on September 11, which brings the electorate right back to fear and terror, not changing horses, and painting the other guy as too indecisive to take it to the enemy. Thus, when conservative economist Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute writes an article dismissing the notion of a middle-class squeeze, it's worth taking notice. His article, “ The ‘Squeeze' Play ,” marshals an array of statistics to argue that middle-class families are doing fine and will thus support George W. Bush on November 2. To get there, though, Hassett omits some very inconvenient facts. He makes two basic points. First, the economy is expanding, so middle-income families must be getting ahead. He asks, “If the economy on average is getting richer and richer, how exactly...

Room for Growth

When I was a kid we had this crazy dog that used to chase cars for all he was worth. My father used to yell after him, “What the heck you gonna do with it if you catch it?!?” Given much of the recent economic news, one might say the same thing to John Kerry (I'm afraid I know what George W. Bush would do): If you win, what are you going to do with the spate of developing economic problems? Both campaigns say a lot about how they're going to address the short-term problems generated by a fits-and-starts recovery and a labor market that just can't seem to get over the hump. This is an important discussion, because there's solid evidence that this persistently weak labor market has taken its toll on living standards . The real income of the median household has declined three years in a row, off $1,500 since 2000. Poverty has risen over these years as well, adding more than 4 million to the ranks of the poor. The conventional wisdom that presidents have little impact on the economy is...

They Did it Again

A few months ago, the Federal Reserve made it clear that, given that the recovery was more or less on track, it was going to start raising interest rates off their 46-year low. It did so at its most prior meeting in June, raising the federal funds rate -- the interest rate banks charge each other for overnight loans -- from 1 percent to 1.25 percent. Today they went up another 0.25 percent to 1.5 percent. Why'd the bank do it? The June decision announced (in Fed-speak) that the Fed was going to continue boosting rates; the consensus was that, barring a big economic surprise, it'd probably keep at it for a while. If anything, it was suggested, the Fed might have to raise rates less incrementally than it'd like to. Then life got complicated for our friends on the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the group, chaired by Alan Greenspan, that makes these decisions. First, economic reports began to show soft spots in the economy. Most importantly, the job market began to weaken, adding...

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