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Christina Romer | Women in Economics

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    - [Christina] The most important thing
    that I try to pass on
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    is the sense that economics
    is an empirical field,
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    and if you get
    new empirical evidence,
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    you're going to have
    to change the way
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    you think about the economy.
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    I think being open to that
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    is the most important thing
    for a young economist to know.
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    ♪ [music] ♪
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    - [Narrator] Economists --
    not a group with a lot of Marys,
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    Natashas or Juanitas,
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    and that's caused
    a lot of controversy.
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    However, what's often overlooked
    are the actual female economists
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    who are pushing economics forward
    by addressing real-world issues.
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    Welcome to Women in Economics.
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    - [Christina] I grew up in a family
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    where public policy
    was discussed a lot.
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    I was planning to be a lawyer,
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    so I was going to major
    in Government.
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    And as part of the Government
    major at my college,
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    you had to take
    a year of Economics.
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    I was about three weeks in,
    and I was hooked,
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    like the Government major's gone,
    the lawyer's gone --
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    I was an economist.
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    - [Narrator] Christina Romer
    is a macroeconomic historian.
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    She takes the tools
    of modern economics,
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    statistics and data
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    and applies them
    to historical questions.
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    - [James] Christy's research
    agenda throughout her career
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    has focused
    on a core set of topics
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    about economic fluctuations
    and business cycles.
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    - [Narrator] She's been asking
    and answering
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    fascinating questions
    about our economy,
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    starting with her dissertation
    as a graduate student at MIT.
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    There, she changed
    our understanding
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    of how the economy
    has grown over time.
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    - [Christina] I think the questions
    that came to me
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    were about monetary policy
    and business cycles
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    and the Great Depression.
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    - [Narrator] It was widely believed
    that government policies
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    led to less fluctuations
    in unemployment
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    after World War II.
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    However, the data before
    World War II was unreliable.
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    - [Nancy] But Christy came up
    with the ingenious insight --
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    that while you couldn't clean up
    the historical data,
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    you could fuzzy up
    the more modern data,
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    and that's exactly what she did.
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    And when she did it, lo and behold,
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    all these differences
    basically collapsed.
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    - [Narrator] Amazingly,
    if she applied
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    the old techniques to the new data,
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    the post-World War II economy
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    looked just as volatile
    as the pre-World War II economy.
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    This contradicted the consensus
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    on the role of government
    stabilization policies.
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    Her research rattled
    the economic community.
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    - [David] It made a splash.
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    I remember one of the prominent
    economists at MIT --
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    his first reaction was,
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    "Well, I'd be very upset
    about this if I believed it.
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    So I'm not going to believe it."
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    - [Narrator] Throughout
    her academic career,
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    Christina continued to challenge
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    our understanding
    of the Great Depression.
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    As just one example,
    most economists believed
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    the Great Depression ended
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    because of higher
    government spending
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    and investment in public works.
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    She showed that the impact
    of those policies
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    were relatively small compared
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    to the monetary policy
    changes taking place.
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    - [David] Starting
    as soon as Roosevelt
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    took the U.S. off the gold standard
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    when he took office in 1933,
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    over the next decade,
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    there's just an enormous increase
    in the money supply.
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    What she showed was that
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    that is what caused
    the very rapid growth that we had.
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    - [Narrator] Christina's research
    has often focused on the effect
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    economic events have
    on people's everyday lives.
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    - [James] It's tough
    to manage to have
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    new ideas on the same thing
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    again and again and again.
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    One of the remarkable things
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    about Christy and David's
    research program is
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    that they have done that
    very successfully.
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    - [Narrator] Over 35 years,
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    Christina has done
    meticulous research,
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    frequently, with her collaborator
    and husband, David Romer.
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    - [David] We'll have a paper,
    and I think it's almost done.
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    We've worked really hard on it,
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    and each do one last read.
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    She says, "You know,
    I think there's a logical tension
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    between where we end up
    in Section 4b
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    and how we set out
    what we're going to do
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    in Section 2a."
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    And I'm thinking, "Oh,
    no one's going to notice."
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    And we spend weeks more
    on the paper because she's right.
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    And the paper gets much better.
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    - [James] One of the remarkable
    things about her work
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    is the coherence that spans
    literally her graduate school days
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    and her work on her dissertation,
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    and connects up to some
    of her most recent work
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    on thinking about
    ways of identifying
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    turning points in the economy.
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    - [Narrator] Christina's work
    would be put to the test
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    during the devasting crash of 2008,
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    when the U.S. economy
    was in free fall.
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    - [Christina] We often
    described the economy
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    as if we were
    at the edge of a cliff.
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    Well, the truth is, we were
    not only at the edge of the cliff,
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    we were headed down.
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    - [Narrator] Financial markets
    were plunging,
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    and the risk of contagion
    from the U.S. to the global economy
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    was very real.
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    - [James] Even people
    who'd seen a lot
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    were really worried
    about what was happening.
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    - [Narrator] Just as
    the nation was turning
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    to President-elect Obama
    to confront the economic crisis,
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    a mysterious email
    showed up in Christina's inbox
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    with the subject line:
    "Obama Transition."
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    - [David] And I will take
    a little bit of credit here
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    because Christina
    was just about to delete it,
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    and I said, "Why don't you
    at least google the person?"
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    And she discovered
    that he was the head
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    of the economic side
    of the transition.
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    - [Narrator] The Obama administration
    wanted to meet with Christina
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    as soon as possible.
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    - [David] On the next day,
    she was on a plane to Chicago
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    to meet with the President-elect.
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    - [Narrator] Christina
    was asked to chair
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    the Council of Economic Advisers.
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    The council was set up
    to bring academics
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    into the policy-making process
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    and make recommendations
    to the President.
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    - [Christina] I was talking
    to Rahm Emanuel, and I said,
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    "So tell me again,
    how did I get this job?"
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    And he said, "You were an expert
    on the Great Depression,
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    and we thought we might need one."
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    - [Janet] She's tried to understand
    what caused the Depression,
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    what ended the Depression,
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    what role monitoring
    and fiscal policy could play,
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    and no one could have been
    better positioned to know
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    what the right strategy would be.
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    - [Christina]
    We were talking to bankers,
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    we were talking to employers,
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    we were talking to the people
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    that where collecting
    the statistics.
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    - [Narrator] Christina's research
    revealed that the economy
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    was in even more
    of a perilous position
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    than previously thought.
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    She got on the phone with Obama
    to give him the bad news.
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    - [Christina] Saying,
    "This is terrible.
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    We've lost three-quarters
    of a million jobs."
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    I'm just going on like this,
    and, finally, he stops me,
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    and he said, "Christy,
    it's not your fault... yet."
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    - [James] The challenge that Christy
    and her other team members
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    on the Economic
    Advisory Team confronted
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    was how large a stimulus
    the U.S. economy needed
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    in order to right the ship,
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    and trying to calibrate that
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    depended critically
    on the estimates
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    of how much bang
    for the buck you get
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    when you use
    fiscal policy as a tool
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    and try to then
    reflate the economy.
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    - [Narrator] Christina
    helped design a fiscal package
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    that she thought was necessary
    to get the economy moving.
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    - [Gabriel] The American Recovery
    and Reinvestment Act
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    was a piece of legislation
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    that was signed
    in February of 2009,
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    and it was a combination
    of direct government spending --
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    so think of repairing highways,
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    transfers to State governments,
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    transfers to individuals,
    and tax cuts.
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    And the rationale for it
    was that at a time
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    when households were spending less
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    and businesses
    were spending less --
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    that's a time when it's appropriate
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    for government
    to spend a little more
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    to fill in that gap.
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    The recessions leave long scars,
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    and people who lose
    their jobs during recessions
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    and they're unemployed
    for a while --
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    even ten years later,
    often are earning less
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    than they were
    before the recession occurred.
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    So by making the case,
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    both in academic research
    and then as a policymaker,
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    then the government could do more
    to mitigate recessions --
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    that really has an impact.
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    - [David] Probably hundreds
    of thousands of people
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    kept their jobs
    during the Great Recession
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    because she had become an expert
    on the behavior of the economy,
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    on the effects of fiscal policy.
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    - [Janet] And she was
    really passionate
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    about the role that she played
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    after the financial crisis
    in the Great Recession,
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    and fought passionately
    for policies
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    that would address
    the 9 million people
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    who lost their jobs
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    and get the economy moving.
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    - [James] Christy was a very
    fortunate person to have in that role
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    because much of her work,
    academically,
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    over the 25 years before that,
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    had been focused
    on trying to understand
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    the nature of the linkages
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    between fiscal policy,
    monetary policy,
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    and economic outcomes.
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    - [David] That's an unusual case.
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    We can really see
    a pretty direct connection
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    between ivory tower research
    and real lives on a big scale.
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    - [Narrator] Romer's work at Berkeley
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    continues to ask and answer
    these important questions
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    about the macroeconomy.
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    - [Christina] If you think about
    what matters to a typical person:
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    Do they have a job?
    Can they support their family?
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    Can they give
    their children a better life
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    than they themselves had? --
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    you realize that economic issues,
    how well the economy operates
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    is probably one of the things
    that affects people's lives
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    more than anything else.
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    ♪ [music] ♪
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    - [Narrator] Want to better understand
    Romer and business cycles?
  • 9:50 - 9:53
    Click here for related materials
    and practice questions,
  • 9:53 - 9:55
    or check out other videos
  • 9:55 - 9:58
    on how economists
    are tackling all sorts of issues --
  • 9:58 - 10:00
    ranging from weighty topics,
    such as the macroeconomy,
  • 10:00 - 10:03
    to everyday items,
    like Wikipedia and wine --
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    yes, even wine.
Titolo:
Christina Romer | Women in Economics
Descrizione:

The fourth episode of our Women In Economics series is on Christina Romer, macroeconomic historian and former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Great Recession.

Christina began her career at William & Mary and fell in love with economics, so much so that she changed her career path from law to econ. Her research since has fundamentally changed the way we think about the Great Depression and business cycles.

Because of her groundbreaking work, she was tapped by President Obama in 2008 to chair the Council of Economic Advisers and help lead the country through the Great Recession.

Learn more about Christina Romer: https://mru.io/tem

More Women in Econ: https://mru.io/pl9

***INSTRUCTOR RESOURCES***

High school teacher resources: https://mru.io/d4t
Professor resources: https://mru.io/ame
EconInbox: https://mru.io/jre

*******************
Special thanks to:

OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development / Flickr
The Obama White House
ticoneva
Simmel-Meservey / Encyclopaedia Britannica Films, Inc.
avgeeks / Pond5
BFI HD Collection
University of Michigan's Ford School
commonwealth.club
International Monetary Fund
Streamline Films, Inc.
Sky News/Film Image Partner
Reflex Technologies
Ultra Film
Joe Raedle / Getty Images Editorial Footage
Matthias Clamer
Petrified Films
Prelinger Archives Home Movies
US Work Project Administration / Prelinger Archives
Federal Works Agency & Work Projects Administration / US National Archives
Grinberg, Paramount, Pathe Newsreels / Sherman Grinberg Library"
Onyx Media, Llc - Footage / Archive Films Editorial
J. Williams / National Archives and Records Administration
The March of Time
United States Secret Service (Treasury Department) / Internet Archive
Hearst Newsreel
Chris Loades
American Economic Association
Nicholas Kamm / AFP
ITN
Pete Souza / The White House
Scott Olson / Getty Images North America
Obama-Biden Transition Project / Flickr
Aude Guerrucci-Pool / Getty Images North America
Saul Loeb / AFP
Yuri Gripas / AFP
Chris Hondros / Getty Images North America
Reza Estakhrian
Stan Honda / AFP
Mario Tama / Getty Images North America
Joe Raedle / Getty Images North America
Mario Tama / Getty Images North America
Scott Olson / Getty Images North America
Spencer Platt / Getty Images North America
Barack Obama Presidential Library
Mandel Ngan / AFP
Joshua Roberts / Bloomberg
Alex Wong / Getty Images North America
Ryan Kelly / CQ-Roll Call Group
Pete Souza / The White House
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images North America
Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images North America
Alex Snyder / Flickr
Matt Wade / Wikipedia
Jeffrey Greenberg / Universal Images Group Editorial
Joe Raedle / Getty Images News
Steve Osman / Los Angeles Times
Joe Raedle / Getty Images News
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images News
Spencer Platt / Getty Images News
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Tempura / Getty Images
Lynn Ischay / Cleveland
Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
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Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
Tim Sloane / AFP

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Video Language:
English
Team:
Marginal Revolution University
Progetto:
Women In Economics
Duration:
10:07

English subtitles

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