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Before I had done any work in economic policy, I thought that in order to be successful in a high-level position like Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Treasury Secretary or Director of the National Economic Council or Office of Management and Budget, one needed to understand a huge range of issues deeply.
While intellectual depth and breadth are valuable, no matter how capable you are, the global economy is too big for you to handle alone. There are a dozen important things happening at once, you need to understand all of them, and your day is no longer than anyone else’s. In order to succeed, you need a staff that can get you smart on anything quickly.
That’s not so different from what you face as you try to be an engaged citizen. Whether you’re in a voting booth or a Cabinet meeting, you’re aiming to make good decisions based on all the relevant facts. But you also have a life to live, with friends and family, interests and professional obligations to balance. It sure would help to have a staff.
In particular, it would help to have a staff that is trying to help you understand what to think about rather than telling you what to think; analysts whose goal is to clarify the economics in a way that makes it easier to think through issues; people willing to point out tradeoffs and admit when something is uncertain or unknown.
This is where we come in. Each of the contributors to this newsletter has been on a staff just like that. We have experience spotting issues, raising questions, doing analysis, and informing policy. We’re also researchers with deep expertise in our own fields and a desire to dig into policy questions that need answers. We’ve spent countless hours writing memos for our extremely busy bosses’ briefing books that synthesize economic insights and practical realities. Now we want to do that for you, too.
We’re going to start on Thursday, and you can expect regular posts every other week after that. There are four of us here at the outset (Gopi Shah Goda, Wes Yin, Jeff Zhang, and myself), and we all have jobs, too, so we’re going to be starting off gradually, but we’re hoping to expand our team by giving other former staffers like ourselves the opportunity to cover a broad range of topics over time. Subscriptions are free. We hope you’ll join us.
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