Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport, Even for Economists

It’s good news that economic issues are now getting more attention in the presidential campaign. More than 400 economists have signed a statement on the differences between the Romney economic program and the Obama program—the numbers are growing each day—and economic commentators including on CNBC and the Wall Street Journal (here and here) are discussing it. Judging by the hits on this post on Economics One, there’s a great deal of interest in the issues rasied in the economic white paper—authored by Kevin Hassett, Glenn Hubbard, Greg Mankiw and me—comparing the effects on economic growth of the Romney program and the Obama program. Of course, the selection of Paul Ryan has set off a huge number of articles on economics from budget policy to monetary policy.

It’s already clear to most voters that the presidential candidates have vastly different approaches to economic policy. But many people are still not informed about the implications of these two approaches. In my view the more voters get informed, and the more their votes are based on that information, the more likely the officials they elect will be able to revive the economy.

But this will not happen if the political campaign drifts back away from substance as campaigns so often do. Keeping the debate focused on economics requires that economists participate and not merely sit back and watch. To remind myself of this, I like to wear this “Democracy is not a spectator sport” tie a lot during the election season.

About John B. Taylor 117 Articles

Affiliation: Stanford University

John B. Taylor is the Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford University and the Bowen H. and Janice Arthur McCoy Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He formerly served as the director of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, where he is now a senior fellow, and he was founding director of Stanford's Introductory Economics Center.

Taylor’s academic fields of expertise are macroeconomics, monetary economics, and international economics. He is known for his research on the foundations of modern monetary theory and policy, which has been applied by central banks and financial market analysts around the world. He has an active interest in public policy. Taylor is currently a member of the California Governor's Council of Economic Advisors, where he also previously served from 1996 to 1998. In the past, he served as senior economist on the President's Council of Economic Advisers from 1976 to 1977, as a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers from 1989 to 1991. He was also a member of the Congressional Budget Office's Panel of Economic Advisers from 1995 to 2001.

For four years from 2001 to 2005, Taylor served as Under Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs where he was responsible for U.S. policies in international finance, which includes currency markets, trade in financial services, foreign investment, international debt and development, and oversight of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. He was also responsible for coordinating financial policy with the G-7 countries, was chair of the working party on international macroeconomics at the OECD, and was a member of the Board of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. His book Global Financial Warriors: The Untold Story of International Finance in the Post-9/11 World chronicles his years as head of the international division at Treasury.

Taylor was awarded the Alexander Hamilton Award for his overall leadership in international finance at the U.S. Treasury. He was also awarded the Treasury Distinguished Service Award for designing and implementing the currency reforms in Iraq, and the Medal of the Republic of Uruguay for his work in resolving the 2002 financial crisis. In 2005, he was awarded the George P. Shultz Distinguished Public Service Award. Taylor has also won many teaching awards; he was awarded the Hoagland Prize for excellence in undergraduate teaching and the Rhodes Prize for his high teaching ratings in Stanford's introductory economics course. He also received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his research, and he is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society; he formerly served as vice president of the American Economic Association.

Before joining the Stanford faculty in 1984, Taylor held positions as professor of economics at Princeton University and Columbia University. Taylor received a B.A. in economics summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1968 and a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University in 1973.

Visit: John Taylor's Page, Blog

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