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A Project in Every Port

 Prakash Loungani profiles
Jeffrey Sachs, peripatetic development economist

IT IS HARD to imagine a more accomplished—and more varied—career than that of Jeff Sachs. Harvard University granted him tenure in 1982 when he was only 28. In his early thirties, he helped Bolivia end its hyperinflation and restructure its debt. Only a few years later, he was drafting the Polish government’s blueprint for transition from communism to capitalism. Stints as advisor to the governments of Russia, Estonia, Burkina Faso, and India—among many others—followed. Sachs campaigned for debt relief for poor countries and, as an advisor to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, developed a plan to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Since 2002, as director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Sachs has set his sights even higher. The Institute, an interdisciplinary group of 850 people, addresses some of the world’s most difficult problems, from eradication of disease to global warming. Read more.

 Prakash Loungani profiles
Jeffrey Sachs, peripatetic development economist

IT IS HARD to imagine a more accomplished—and more varied—career than that of Jeff Sachs. Harvard University granted him tenure in 1982 when he was only 28. In his early thirties, he helped Bolivia end its hyperinflation and restructure its debt. Only a few years later, he was drafting the Polish government’s blueprint for transition from communism to capitalism.

Read the full article…

Posted by at 9:37 PM

Labels: Profiles of Economists

Honoring a Forecasting Giant

Herman Stekler has predicted 10 of the last 6 U.S. recessions. Despite this dismal forecasting performance, he is considered one of the giants of the economic forecasting profession. At the age of 80, he is still going strong, recently finishing his 100th academic paper. 

photo: IMF

A GW-IMF Forecasting Forum held on November 15-16, 2012 honored Stekler’s contributions to the profession. The program features papers by:

  • Prakash Loungani on whether forecasters believe in Okun’s Law (they do); 
  • Neil Ericsson on uncovering biases in government forecasts of U.S. debt; 
  • Ulrich Frtische on whether there is (lack of) herding in foreign exchange rate forecasts; 
  • Michael Kumhof on what will happen to the price of oil in ten years (warning: this is not the official IMF view); 
  • Natalia Tamirisa on information rigidity in growth forecasts; 
  • Massimiliano Marcellino on whether the estimation of large Bayesian VARs can be speeded up by assuming a common stochastic volatility factor. 

The papers can be downloaded from here along with the comments of the stellar group of discussants (Kajal Lahiri, Tara Sinclair, Ed Gamber, Danny Bachman, Robert Fildes, Jonas Dovern, Olivier Coibion, Andy Levin, Fred Joutz, Chris Erceg, Keith Ord and Xuguang Sheng).

The forecasters attending the forum had been asked to predict the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election. Peg Young came the closest, predicting that Obama would win 50.5% of the popular vote (he got 50.6%) and 326 votes in the electoral college (he got 332).

photo: IMF

Herman Stekler has predicted 10 of the last 6 U.S. recessions. Despite this dismal forecasting performance, he is considered one of the giants of the economic forecasting profession. At the age of 80, he is still going strong, recently finishing his 100th academic paper. 

photo: IMF

A GW-IMF Forecasting Forum held on November 15-16, 2012 honored Stekler’s contributions to the profession. The program features papers by:

  • Prakash Loungani on whether forecasters believe in Okun’s Law (they do); 

Read the full article…

Posted by at 6:05 PM

Labels: Economic Forecast

Okun’s Law: Fit at 50?

This paper investigates how well Okun’s Law explains short-run unemployment movements in the United States since 1948 and in a sample of 20 advanced economies since 1980. Our principal conclusion is that Okun’s Law is a strong and stable relationship in most countries. Also, the coefficient in the relationship—the effect of a one percent change in output on the unemployment rate—varies substantially across countries. We take a first look at the sources of these differences; one finding is that they are not explained by differences in employment protection laws. Finally, we find that Okun’s Law held up well during the Great Recession and that recoveries have not become “jobless” in the sense of a breakdown in Okun’s Law. The paper is available here.

United States: Actual and Fitted Unemployment Rate, 1948Q2-2011Q4

This paper investigates how well Okun’s Law explains short-run unemployment movements in the United States since 1948 and in a sample of 20 advanced economies since 1980. Our principal conclusion is that Okun’s Law is a strong and stable relationship in most countries. Also, the coefficient in the relationship—the effect of a one percent change in output on the unemployment rate—varies substantially across countries. We take a first look at the sources of these differences;

Read the full article…

Posted by at 8:22 AM

Labels: Unemployment

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