Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Washington Economic Group Think:Harvard and MIT Economists Think Big (Government That Is)

Washington has always been quick to trumpet the benefits of diversity--- except in the case of economic thought. This month President Obama replaced the Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), Alan Krueger, with Harvard trained economist Jason Furman.  Professor Krueger, who earned his Ph.D. at Harvard, heads back to Princeton University to join soon to be ex-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke who obtained his Ph.D. from MIT.  

Since the beginning of the millennium, there have been 10 CEA Chairmen with none acquiring his/her doctorate in economics beyond the gates of Harvard or MIT. Thus, the White House appears to value homogeneity of educational experience among its economic policy advisors.   

Moreover, even the faculty members teaching future economic advisors are drawn heavily from this Cambridge, Massachusetts enclave. Of almost 90 faculty members in the combined economic departments of Harvard and MIT, 64 percent received their doctorates from either Harvard or MIT. 

In addition to gaining lucrative federal policy advisory positions, these Boston/DC beltway economists have been very effective at landing federal subsidies. For example, more than 95 percent of current Harvard and MIT economics faculty members have received National Science Foundation Grants (NSF). 

In this economist’s view, the White House and the nation suffer by drafting a disproportionate share of economic policy advisors from a 5 mile radius of downtown Boston.   Ernie Goss

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