after the rain - macromom
Today's post is from my macromom blog. It's a personal one. Don't worry economics will return here soon. It's finally infrasture week!
Today is July 29, 2021, which is:
exactly 1 year since my "economics is a disgrace."
about 4 years since my first post, "if the shoe fits."
shortly 10 years since I took myself to the hospital.
So yeah, a lot on my mind.
I remain in disbelief that over 100,000 of you have read my "disgrace" post. I honestly did not think anyone would care. My "shoe fits" covers much of the same ground with fewer words and fewer names. My name is on both. Basically, no one cared then. So why three years later?
More people acted like they cared in 2020 than 2017 . Among leaders, the caring was not to "change the profession." It was a that's "not me" and feigned outrage. It's too soon for "disgrace" to move the needle. It probably won't.
No one in my "disgrace" post was held accountable, except for me. Within three days, I was told to leave my job at a progressive think tank, led then by a woman who's now a top economics official in the White House. She worked with Larry Summers on the campaign. Larry didn't like my post. I doubt powerful donors and people like her who fear him liked it. I told you economics has a systemic problem. Proved me right.
Who did care? Students, who are our next generation, and people marginalized in economics, whose cruel treatment costs us dearly. See out-of-touch, cruel policy advice during the COVID-19 crisis and the sea of White men leading that charge.
During the past year, I've received hundreds of heartfelt notes emails, DMs, texts, phone calls, etc. from the people who did care, often thanking me for my "bravery." I was not brave. I was angry. And I truly cherish every person who cared. They're why I wrote my post, and why I push economics to be better.
I put my credibility on the line and was privileged to have enough to do it. For god sake's, John Taylor and I are the only two people who have a "Rule" in economic policy. I got mine two years ago and at a much younger age. I'm not done.
It's not all sunshine and roses. I did burn through an incredible amount of credibility. Most depressing was this year. I was publicly critical of Larry Summers and Raj Chetty's economic policy advice. I was told sternly that I should've done it in private. I shouldn't have named names. Ugh. Raj's advice would've cost 50 million women, men, and children a $1,400 stimulus check and Larry's the entire $2 trillion Rescue Plan. I did my job as policy expert. I was punished for it by the elites. Economics is a disgrace. I am not surprised. I am sad.
Good economics and compassion won the day. The $1,400 checks went out, and Congress did not heed Raj's advice. I collected more data and showed that in a research policy brief that the checks worked. The $2 trillion Rescue Plan passed. In total, Congress enacted $5 trillion in economic relief within a year. In the Great Recession, it was less than $1 trillion. Larry won that policy debate. Not this time. Praise the lord.
The policies enacted were not perfect, and we must do better next time. Even so, I'm in shock and often cry tears of joy when I reflect on how much better policymakers did this time.
I have yet to watch Jay Powell speak during this crisis without getting emotional. Started crying again yesterday at the Fed presser. I did not sleep until CARES passed the Senate in the middle of the night. How could I? Millions of Americans were having sleepless night and millions more would soon.
It's personal. My breakdown at the Fed in 2011 was caused, in large part, by the stress of watching policymakers step away, even as the recovery dragged on. I did not know it at the time, but the stress triggered my one (and only) manic episode. It was scary. Now, I had been severely depressed every winter after I started at the Fed in 2007 until my diagnosis with a bipolar disorder in 2011. Sucked for me and my family. But, when I am depressed, I am a danger only to myself not others. When I am manic, I say and do things that hurt others. To me, that's worse.
One thing mania did not change was my goofiness. In the emergency room, I slept for the first time in months. In the morning, they sent me to the mental health office. I didn't make sense, so the woman on duty gave me a piece of paper and told me to write a letter to someone. I wrote it to Ben Bernanke. She had me tear it up and throw it in the trash before I left. It makes me laugh now. Like Ben would have cared or even understood it. It's not an accident that he and Janet Yellen were who I wrote the "disgrace" post for. It was never meant to be a public post. I wanted them, as leaders in economics, to do something. They told me they could not. Duh, it was goofy of me to expect them to. Goofy is good. If you're not laughing your crying.
I love economics dearly. I work extremely hard at good economic policy, even though I much of it is volunteer work now. I have been blessed by many new opportunities this year. I have been blessed by all the support. I have absolutely nothing to complain about. Actions and words have consequences. It was messy and I made mistakes, but I have no regrets.
In policy and in life, we must never let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And we must not pretend the good is the perfect. We can always do better. Policymakers did better this time. I did better too. I stayed healthy. I spoke my truth, and I created space for others to speak theirs. That's how change happens.