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Alan S. Blinder

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Alan S. Blinder

Alan Blinder
15th Vice Chairperson of the Federal Reserve System
In office
June 27, 1994 – January 31, 1996
Appointed by Bill Clinton
Preceded by David Mullins
Succeeded by Alice Rivlin
Personal details
Born (1945-10-14) October 14, 1945 (age 68)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Princeton University
London School of Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Alan Stuart Blinder (born October 14, 1945) is an American economist. He serves at Princeton University as the Gordon S. Rentschler Memorial Professor of Economics and Public Affairs in the Economics Department, and vice chairman of The Observatory Group. He founded Princeton’s Griswold Center for Economic Policy Studies in 1990. Since 1978 he has been a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research.[1] He is also a co-founder and a vice chairman of the Promontory Interfinancial Network, LLC. He is among the most influential economists in the world according to IDEAS/RePEc,[2] and is "considered one of the great economic minds of his generation."[3]

Blinder served on President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers (July 27, 1993 – June 26, 1994), and as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from June 27, 1994 – January 31, 1996. Blinder's recent academic work has focused particularly on monetary policy and central banking,[4] as well as the "offshoring" of jobs, and his writing for lay audiences has been published primarily but not exclusively in New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, where he now writes a regular monthly op-ed column. His latest book is After the Music Stopped, published by Penguin in January 2013.[5]

Early life

Blinder was born in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Syosset High School in Syosset, New York. Blinder received his undergraduate degree in economics from Princeton, graduating summa cum laude in 1967. He subsequently gained an MSc in economics from the London School of Economics (1968)[6] and then received his doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1971.[6]

Professional life

Academic career

Blinder has been at Princeton since 1971, chairing the economics department from 1988 to 1990.[6] He is a past president of the Eastern Economic Association and Vice President of the American Economic Association and was named a Distinguished Fellow of the latter in 2011.[6] He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (since 1991), a member of the American Philosophical Society since 1996, and a member of the board of the Council on Foreign Relations (since 2008).[7] Blinder's textbook Economics: Principles and Policy, co-written with William Baumol, was first published in 1979 and, in 2012 was printed in its twelfth edition.[8]

In 2009 Blinder was inducted into the American Academy of Political and Social Science, "for his distinguished scholarship on fiscal policy, monetary policy and the distribution of income, and for consistently bringing that knowledge to bear on the public arena."[9] He is a strong proponent of free trade.[10] Blinder has been critical of the public discussion of the US national debt, describing it as generally ranging from "ludicrous to horrific".[11]

Political career

Blinder has served as the Deputy Assistant Director of the Congressional Budget Office (1975), on President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers (January 1993 - June 1994),[6] and as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from June 1994 to January 1996.[6] As Vice Chairman, he cautioned against raising interest rates too quickly to slow inflation because of the lags in earlier rises feeding through into the economy. He also warned against ignoring the short term costs in terms of unemployment that inflation-fighting could cause.[12]

Many have argued that Blinder's stint at the Fed was cut short because of his tendency to challenge chairman Alan Greenspan:

[Economist] Rob Johnson, who watched the Blinder ordeal, says Blinder made the mistake of behaving as if the Fed was a place where competing ideas and assumptions were debated. "Sociologically, what was happening was the Fed staff was really afraid of Blinder. At some level, as an applied empirical economist, Alan Blinder is really brilliant," says Johnson.

In closed-door meetings, Blinder did what so few do: he challenged assumptions. "The Fed staff would come out and their ritual is: Greenspan has kind of told them what to conclude and they produce studies in which they conclude this. And Blinder treated it more like an open academic debate when he first got there and he'd come out and say, 'Well, that's not true. If you change this assumption and change this assumption and use this kind of assumption you get a completely different result.' And it just created a stir inside – it was sort of like the whole pipeline of Greenspan-arriving-at-decisions was disrupted."

This put him in conflict with Greenspan and his staff. "A lot of senior staff... were pissed off about Blinder – how should we say? – not playing by the customs that they were accustomed to," Johnson says.[3]

He was an adviser to Al Gore and John Kerry during their respective presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004.[6]

"Cash for Clunkers"

Blinder was an early advocate of a "Cash for Clunkers" program, in which the government buys some of the oldest, most-polluting vehicles and scraps them. In July 2008, he wrote an article in The New York Times advocating such a program,[13] which was implemented by the Obama administration during the summer of 2009.[14] Blinder asserted it could stimulate the economy, benefit the environment, and reduce income inequality.[13] The program was both praised for exceeding expectations,[15] and criticized for economic and environmental reasons.[16][17][18]

Personal life

Blinder is married and has two sons.

Selected works

  • (2013), "After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead," New York: The Penguin Press, 24 Jan. 2013. ISBN 978-1594205309
  • (2009), "How Many U.S. Jobs Might Be Offshorable," World Economics, April–June 2009, 10(2): 41–78.
  • (2009), "Making Monetary Policy by Committee,” International Finance, Summer 2009, 12(2): 171–194.
  • (2008), "Do Monetary Policy Committees Need Leaders? A Report on an Experiment," American Economic Review (Papers and Proceedings), May 2008, pp. 224–229.
  • (2006), "Offshoring: The Next Industrial Revolution?" Foreign Affairs", March/April 2006, pp. 113–128. (A longer version with footnotes and references is "Fear of Offshoring," CEPS Working Paper No. 119, December 2005).
  • (2006), "The Case Against the Case Against Discretionary Fiscal Policy," in R. Kopcke, G. Tootell, and R. Triest (eds.), The Macroeconomics of Fiscal Policy, MIT Press, 2006, forthcoming, pp. 25–61.
  • (2004), The Quiet Revolution, Yale University Press
  • (2001, with William Baumol and Edward N. Wolff), Downsizing in America: Reality, Causes, And Consequences, Russell Sage Foundation
  • (2001, with Janet Yellen), The Fabulous Decade: Macroeconomic Lessons from the 1990s, New York: The Century Foundation Press
  • (1998, with E. Canetti, D. Lebow, and J. Rudd), Asking About Prices: A New Approach to Understanding Price Stickiness, Russell Sage Foundation
  • (1998), Central Banking in Theory and Practice, MIT Press
  • (1991), Growing Together: An Alternative Economic Strategy for the 1990s, Whittle
  • (1990, ed.), Paying for Productivity, Brookings
  • (1989), Macroeconomics Under Debate, Harvester-Wheatsheaf
  • (1989), Inventory Theory and Consumer Behavior, Harvester-Wheatsheaf
  • (1987), Hard Heads, Soft Hearts: Tough‑Minded Economics for a Just Society, Addison-Wesley
  • (1983), Economic Opinion, Private Pensions and Public Pensions: Theory and Fact. The University of Michigan
  • (1979, with William Baumol), Economics: Principles and Policy – textbook
  • (1979), Economic Policy and the Great Stagflation. New York: Academic Press
  • (co-edited with Philip Friedman, 1977), Natural Resources, Uncertainty and General Equilibrium Systems: Essays in Memory of Rafael Lusky, New York: Academic Press
  • (1974), Toward an Economic Theory of Income Distribution, MIT Press

References

External links

  • Blinder's Princeton homepage
    • Academic articles
    • Op Eds
  • at Penguin Publishers
  • Promontory Interfinancial Network, LLC
  • WorldCat catalog)
  • Statements and Speeches of Alan S. Blinder
Business positions
Preceded by
David Mullins
Vice Chairperson of the Federal Reserve System
1994–1996
Succeeded by
Alice Rivlin

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