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Martin Feldstein

George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University

Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Contact:
Telephone: (617) 868-3905
Email: mfeldstein@harvard.edu
Website: http://www.nber.org/feldstein

 

Experience

Martin Feldstein is the George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University and President Emeritus of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He served as President and CEO of the NBER from 1977-82 and 1984-2008. He continues as a Research Associate of the NBER. The NBER is a private, nonprofit research organization that has specialized for more than 80 years in producing nonpartisan studies of the American economy. From 1982 through 1984, Martin Feldstein was Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and President Reagan's chief economic adviser. He served as President of the American Economic Association in 2004. In 2006, President Bush appointed him to be a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. In 2009, President Obama appointed him to be a member of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Dr. Feldstein is a member of the American Philosophical Society, a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Econometric Society and a Fellow of the National Association of Business Economics. He is a Trustee of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Trilateral Commission, the Group of 30, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Council of Academic Advisors of the American Enterprise Institute. Dr. Feldstein has received honorary doctorates from several universities and is an Honorary Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford. In 1977, he received the John Bates Clark Medal of the American Economic Association, a prize awarded every two years to the economist under the age of 40 who is judged to have made the greatest contribution to economic science. He is the author of more than 300 research articles in economics. Dr. Feldstein has been a director of several public corporations. He is also an economic adviser to several businesses and government organizations in the United States and abroad. He is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and other publications.

Martin Feldstein is a graduate of Harvard College and Oxford University. He was born in New York City in 1939. His wife, Kathleen, is also an economist. The Feldsteins have two married daughters.

 

 

By Date

 

2016

AP Photo

July 5, 2016

"Where the Fed Will Be When the Next Downturn Comes"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University

Testifying before the Senate on June 21, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the chances of the U.S. economy sliding into recession this year are “quite low.” I agree. But the Fed still faces the difficult problem of what to do when the next downturn occurs if interest rates are still extremely low.

 

 

Vera Kratochvil

June 28, 2016

"How EU Overreach Pushed Britain Out"

Op-Ed, Project Syndicate

By Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University

A thoughtful British friend of mine said to me a few days before the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” referendum that he would vote for Remain because of his concern about the economic uncertainty that would follow if the UK left the European Union. But he added that he would not have favored Britain’s decision to join the EU back in 1973 had he known then how the EU would evolve.

While voters chose Leave for a variety of reasons, many were concerned with the extent to which EU leaders have exceeded their original mandate, creating an ever larger and more invasive organization.

 

 

Flickr

May 23, 2016

"A Debt Agenda for the G7"

Op-Ed, Project Syndicate

By Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University

On May 26-27, the heads of the Group of Seven leading industrial countries will gather in Japan to discuss common security and economic problems. A major common problem that deserves their attention is the unsustainable increase in the major developed countries’ national debt. Failure to address the explosion of government borrowing will have adverse effects on the global economy and on debt-burdened countries themselves.

The problem is bad and getting worse almost everywhere. In the United States, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal government debt doubled over the past decade, from 36% of GDP to 74% of GDP. It also predicts that, under favorable economic assumptions and with no new programs to increase spending or reduce revenue, the debt ratio ten years from now will be 86% of GDP. Even more worrying, the annual deficit ratio will double in the next decade to 4.9% of GDP, putting the debt on track to exceed 100% of GDP.

 

 

Dan Smith

May 18, 2016

"Ending the Fed’s Inflation Fixation"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University

The primary role of the Federal Reserve and other central banks should be to prevent high rates of inflation. The double-digit inflation rates of the late 1970s and early '80s were a destructive and frightening experience that could have been avoided by better monetary policy in the previous decade. Fortunately, the Fed's tighter monetary policy under Paul Volcker brought the inflation rate down and set the stage for a strong economic recovery during the Reagan years.

The Federal Reserve has two congressionally mandated policy goals: "full employment" and "price stability." The current unemployment rate of 5% means that the economy is essentially at full employment, very close to the 4.8% unemployment rate that the members of the Fed's Open Market Committee say is the lowest sustainable rate of unemployment.

 

 

Will Clayton

March 29, 2016

"China’s Next Agenda"

Op-Ed, Project Syndicate

By Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University

CAMBRIDGE – I recently returned from Beijing, where I had spent a week talking with Chinese officials and attending the China Development Forum (CDF), the major annual gathering of Chinese and senior foreign officials and top business executives. The Chinese government had just released its 13th Five-Year Plan, and officials were eager to explain what it means for China’s future.

Although the latest plan contains a seemingly endless list of specific projects and goals, the major new theme this year is “supply-side restructuring,” a term that includes a wide range of policies aimed at boosting economic growth and living standards. The term “supply side” is intended to distinguish these new policies from the traditional demand-side measures of easy money and a slightly larger fiscal deficit that are already aimed at strengthening economic activity.

 

 

Flickr

February 27, 2106

"Stopping America’s Federal Debt Explosion"

Op-Ed, Project Syndicate

By Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University

CAMBRIDGE – The US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has just delivered the bad news that the national debt is now rising faster than GDP and heading toward ratios that we usually associate with Italy or Spain. That confirms my view that the fiscal deficit is the most serious long-term economic problem facing US policymakers.

A decade ago, the federal debt was just 35% of GDP. It is now more than double that and projected to reach 86% in 2026. But that’s just the beginning. The annual budget deficit projected for 2026 is 5% of GDP. If it stays at that level, the debt ratio would eventually rise to 125%.

 

 

commons.wikimedia.org

January 29, 2016

"The Shortcomings of Quantitative Easing in Europe"

Op-Ed, Project Syndicate

By Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University

CAMBRIDGE – Why has the US Federal Reserve’s policy of quantitative easing been so much more successful than the version of QE implemented by the European Central Bank? That intellectual question leads directly to a practical one: Will the ECB ever be able to translate quantitative easing into stronger economic growth and higher inflation?

 

2015

World Economic Forum

December 28, 2015

"The Global Economy Confronts Four Geopolitical Risks"

Op-Ed, Project Syndicate

By Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University

The end of the year is a good time to consider the risks that lie ahead of us. There are of course important economic risks, including the mispricing of assets caused by a decade of ultra-low interest rates, the shifts in demand caused by the Chinese economy’s changing structure, and European economies’ persistent weakness. But the main longer-term risks are geopolitical, stemming from four sources: Russia, China, the Middle East, and cyberspace.

Although the Soviet Union no longer exists, Russia remains a formidable nuclear power, with the ability to project force anywhere in the world. Russia is also economically weak because of its dependence on oil revenue at a time when prices are down dramatically. President Vladimir Putin has already warned Russians that they face austerity, because the government will no longer be able to afford the transfer benefits that it provided in recent years.

 

 

December 13, 2015

"The Uncounted Trillions in the Inequality Debate"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University

The Federal Reserve recently estimated total household net worth in the U.S. to be about $80 trillion, including real estate and financial assets. And data from the Fed’sSurvey of Consumer Finances imply that the top 10% of households by net worth hold about 75%—or $60 trillion—of this total. The bottom 90% of households therefore have a net worth of about $20 trillion.

 

 

November 28, 2015

"China’s Latest Five-Year Plan"

Op-Ed, Project Syndicate

By Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University

I was in Beijing last month when the Chinese government released a preliminary summary of its 13th Five-Year Plan. This is an important document for understanding where China is headed in the 2016-2020 period. And yet China’s five-year plans just aren’t what they used to be.

 
Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.