Bo Cutter






Bowman Cutter is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Next American Economy Project at the Roosevelt Institute. He was a managing director of Warburg Pincus, a major global private equity firm headquartered in New York City, between 1996 and 2009 where he served both as the firm’s economist and as a leader in its international business, with particular reference to Asia. In these roles, Mr. Cutter evaluated the financial and business sectors of a large number of economies; assessed their capital markets; and considered the merits of specific investments within these markets.

Mr. Cutter joined Warburg Pincus directly from a senior economic policy role in the Administration of President William Clinton. He has served with distinction during two Democratic presidencies: at the National Economic Council, from 1992-1996, during the Clinton Presidency – as director of the National Economic Council and Deputy Assistant to the President; and at the Office of Management and Budget from 1976-1981, during the Carter Presidency, as Executive Director for Budget.

Mr. Cutter also served as leader of the OMB transition team after the election of President Obama. From 1981-1993, he was vice chairman and managing partner at Coopers & Lybrand, the global accounting and consulting firm that subsequently merged with Price Waterhouse. In this role, Mr. Cutter managed a major consulting practice and was also responsible for the over-all strategy of Coopers & Lybrand, a large, decentralized international business. Mr. Cutter’s central public policy interest has been the development and management of economic policy, and in particular the issues related to economic growth, development, and the alleviation of poverty.

He has worked extensively with the World Bank; he is currently the Chairman of the Board of CARE, the global development organization (where he has been a member of the Board for 13 years); and is a founder and current Chairman of MicroVest, a leading global microfinance fund with assets under management now in excess of $100 million. In addition, Mr. Cutter is a member of the Governing Council of the IFMR Trust, in India, focusing upon market based solutions to the problems of severe poverty in India.

Mr. Cutter holds degrees from Harvard University, the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He is a member of the executive committee and immediate past co-chairman of the Committee for Economic Development, the leading business “think-tank” in the United States; a board member of Resources for the Future, an energy and environmental research institute; and a board member of the Russell Sage Foundation. In addition, he is a member of the New York Council on Foreign Relations.





The Race Between Two Futures

We are in an economic race between two futures: a high-growth economy that works for all of our people or an economy that marginalizes many of us. I believe that the first choice, what I call “the good economy,” is attainable, but we have work to do to get there.

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The Good Economy

Bo Cutter, director of the Next American Economy project, provides an overview of the “good economy” of 2040.

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Our series on “The Good Economy of 2040” continues this week with Next American Economy Director and Roosevelt Senior Fellow Bo Cutter. If Cutter could pick one policy solution to ensure a good economy in the future, he’d call for universal pre-K through secondary school to “bring up children from low-income households” and teach all

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Fischer has the temperament and the experience to help guide the Federal Reserve through the difficult policy debates ahead. A brief comment on the possible nomination of Stanley Fischer to be the Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve Board. Full disclosure: I know Professor Fischer well and think extremely highly of him. He has been

Bo Cutter witnessed the government shutdown of the mid-’90s firsthand as part of the Clinton budget team, and he argues that it’s time to let it happen all over again. This brief commentary is my first for a while. It’s intended for President Obama’s administration. The message is straightforward: accept the tooth fairy into your

President Obama has a limited amount of time to accomplish his second-term goals, so there’s no time like the present to go big. Admittedly it is absurdly early to be suggesting that President Obama’s second term is at a crucial fork in the road. But I think that’s where we are and here’s why. Second

President Obama offered up a good list of policies, but there was no clear vision of the future to go with it. A couple of days ago I wrote an essay in anticipation of President Obama’s State of the Union speech. Assuming a “pivot” back to the economy, I defined two kinds of economic speeches

This is not the moment to give the same economic speech, but to be bold and long-term. Inaugural addresses are about poetry and vision; State of the Union speeches are about prose and governing. (I acknowledge the inaccurate theft from Governor Mario Cuomo.) But they can and should be about more than a simple listing

The year ahead will be full of petty budget battles that solve nothing and distract from the real issues. On the one hand, the last minute December 2012 fiscal cliff deal was in no respects a policy breakthrough, but on the other hand, it didn’t solve any process issues either. There will be no grand

President Obama’s second inaugural had soaring language but fell short of a transformational vision of the future. Inaugural addresses are poetry and vision. They are not about governing and programs. Judged this way, President Obama’s second inaugural speech was wonderful poetry. The president excels at these big set pieces and he delivers them magnificently. In

An obsession with the largest economic players distracts us from the smaller companies that should drive our future economy. Both Richard Fisher, the president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, and Alan Blinder, arch-economist and former vice-chair of the Federal Reserve Board, had fascinating commentaries last week on “too big to fail,” the big banks,

Despite criticism from the left, Jack Lew has a commitment to public service and a deep understanding of public finance. I’ve already been fairly widely quoted in support of Jack Lew’s nomination as Treasury Secretary. And for full disclosure, I supported his appointment as head of OMB and Chief of Staff of the White House,

The weakness of the fiscal cliff deal reflects the lack of direction coming from the White House. I haven’t written for a month largely because I thought it was one of those times when everything possible had been said about the fiscal cliff but not everyone had said it. Moreover, absolutely no one actually knew

As part of our series “A Rooseveltian Second Term Agenda,” a way forward if Obama wants to really get things done. I’m writing this under the following key assumptions: that President Obama actually wants to accomplish something and that he doesn’t want simply to play small ball. If these assumptions hold, then President Obama must

If Obama gets a second term today, one of his biggest tasks will be showing strong leadership. A re-elected President Obama faces difficult choices, as every commentator will say tiresomely and ad nauseam. But more importantly, he also has a huge and unique opportunity. The media will inevitably begin to write its ritual story regarding

The global economy is heading toward a huge transformation. Can America rise to the challenge? Neither of our two major political parties have at their cores a commitment  to economic growth. In his second term, President Obama has an extraordinary opportunity to grab the golden ring, make a genuine commitment to sustainable, equitable growth, and

President Obama has three big transition tasks ahead of him. First up: get past the heated deficit debate with a real solution. As I write this in mid-October, it is not at all clear that President Obama will have a second term. There are structural factors giving the president an advantage, largely that so many

The last debate wasn’t just about foreign policy. It was about the diverse and difficult responsibilities of being president of the United States. “Bullfight critics ranked in rows crowd the enormous plaza full, but he’s the only one who knows, and he’s the man who fights the bull.” For me, that sums up the debate. The president

The second debate didn’t do much to move the polls, but it continued to highlight some of the candidates’ biggest flaws. I’m not going to refight the second debate at any length. With these debates, we are at that well-known point most meetings and conversations reach: everything has been said, but not everyone has said

Biden and Ryan have some real ideas, but neither side has a plan to get us out of this economic mess. Last night’s debate will be seen as an interlude: there were no knock-outs and both Vice President Biden and Congressman Ryan did fine. Biden guffawed too heartedly and interrupted too much, Ryan looked strikingly

The odds are still on the president’s side, but he needs to learn how to make a stronger case for himself to win a second term. The aftermath of the debate in the media was entirely predictable. Democrats were depressed and said as little as possible. The Republican columnists took — are still taking —

Obama laid back, Romney reinvented himself, and neither candidate grappled with our economic future. The debate was painful to watch. The effects are unclear but can’t be good for President Obama. I didn’t understand it, and I still don’t think the presidential campaign has grappled at all with the real issues of our economic future.

Romney’s chances of becoming president are dimming, but if he changes his message, he could still lose gracefully. Every presidential campaign reaches a moment when the two main candidates have to start their transition planning. 2012 is no different, and we’ve reached that moment. President Obama has to begin planning the transition to his second

The expansion of the American education system produced 100 years of economic growth, but we need a new model to achieve a sustainable, equitable future. The Next American Economy breakfast seminars resumed last week with a discussion with Professor Larry Katz focusing on his and Professor Claudia Goldin’s book, The Race Between Education and Technology.

The debate over taxes is trapped in the past. We need new revenue sources, and a carbon tax is a good place to start. Two big points emerged from the conventions: the horse race became clearer; the actual policies became murkier. Romney received no convention “bounce,” while Obama received a moderate bounce. (The “distraughtness” index

The conventions are all about having fun, but if Obama wins reelection, he has to get serious about his governing strategy. Nowadays, you have to see both parties’ conventions as theme parks or Three Stooges humor. As a viewer, you’re Dorothy in Oz or Alice through the looking glass. Conventions used to be about making

President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comment highlighted the importance of public investment, but we’re not doing anything to make it happen. I’d like to restart “The Cutter Report” with a commentary about President Obama’s remark that “you didn’t build that.” Relax; I’m not going to pile on the endless series of brainless remarks about

In the latest Next American Economy breakfast series, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Bo Cutter interviews Paul Krugman, Nobel-prize winning economist and New York Times op-ed columnist. Krugman discusses how and why the “two great centers of world economic activity, of democracy, and of everything else are both in deep trouble.” He says, “Europe made the

In this week’s installment of the Next American Economy breakfast series, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Bo Cutter hosted Columbia economics professor Till von Wachter for a discussion of the serious damage unemployment can have on workers. Wachter points out that severe job losses during recessions harm not only short-term earnings but also lifetime career earnings,

Last week, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Bo Cutter’s latest installment of the Next American Economy breakfast series featured Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at MIT’s Center for Digital Business, discussing his book The Race Against the Machine. A self-proclaimed technology optimist, McAfee lays out in stark and sobering terms the workforce displacement that has already taken place and will

This week, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Bo Cutter hosted American University Professor in Foreign Policy and former senior White House budget official for national security Gordon Adams as part of the Next American Economy, where the two discussed how the U.S. military establishment has changed over time and how America’s funding for the Department of Defense (DOD) does not amount to a successful mission in Iraq and Afghanistan. So what can we learn about rebuilding nations? Adams says, “it’s not the military’s mission to build a sustainable, developed architecture in these areas,” and yet we still invest more money in the DOD than civilian groups pursuing the same goals.

Gordon Adams :: Interview [excerpt] from Roosevelt Institute on Vimeo.

President Obama’s Election Year Budget

While not the worst proposal, the budget serves as a political football and shirks the tough decisions staring us in the face. President Obama’s recent budget is the “numbers” version of his State of the Union speech. It mirrors the speech almost exactly. Of course it is a political budget. What else could anyone possibly

Last week, Senior Fellow Bo Cutter hosted economist and former IMF Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky as part of the Next American Economy Breakfast Series, where they discussed how the European crisis came to be, past solutions, and what it will take to finally resolve it. In the video below, Lipsky lays out the current situation and the recent five-point plan:

John Lipsky :: Interview (excerpt) from Roosevelt Institute on Vimeo.

Obama is getting closer to the reset that will be necessary to get the country back on track but still has some substantial progress to make. Last night was by far President Obama’s best State of the Union speech. As you would expect, this is not everyone’s view. Governor Romney called it “detached” from reality. Michael Gerson

Last week, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Bo Cutter hosted Princeton economist and Wall Street Journal columnist Alan S. Blinder at the Next American Economy breakfast series, where the two discussed how much longer we’ll have to wait before the U.S. recovery starts living up to its name. In the video below, Blinder tells Bo why he believes it will be a decade or more before the economy bounces back:

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Bo Cutter has brought a lot of top thinkers together to discuss what the Next American Economy should look like. But it’s hard to imagine future economic policy without also figuring out energy policy. As Bo’s latest guest points out, American energy policy has largely failed. John Deutch, professor at MIT and former Director of Central Intelligence, explains how “we have not had an energy policy for 40 years” and why “it is a hard slog to improve this.” In this excerpt, he lays out four key steps to making real progress:

John Deutch :: [excerpt] from Roosevelt Institute on Vimeo.

All signs point to empty political posturing without real solutions. And that was always the expected outcome. The super committee, set up after the debt limit debacle in early August, is due to report on November 23. This report is supposed to tell us how Congress will meet its self-inflicted requirement to reduce future deficits

In the latest installment of the Next American Economy, Senior Fellow Bo Cutter’s guest David Rothkopf seems to channel Occupy Wall Street’s frustration. Pointing out many of the grievances of the 99%, he asks the tough questions of our economic system: “Why do we have a society, what is it we’re trying to do? Do we want to have the biggest economy? Do we want to have the best place to live? Do we think equality matters?” The answers that our current structure would offer are disheartening. “We’ve lost sight of the purpose of organizing ourselves into a society,” he says. “It’s not about the abstract creation of wealth.” Watch an excerpt of his talk:

The solutions being offered by both sides are too small and small-minded to meet the challenges we face. I liked the president’s jobs speech, but I was deeply disappointed with his budget speech on September 19. The president is missing an immense opportunity, and what may have been the last chance of his first term,

There are real crises coming down the line — such as an almost inevitable default in Europe — but the Republicans refuse to deal with reality. I’ll start by acknowledging that I do not even remotely understand Republican party dynamics and can’t read what happens in a Republican debate the way I think I can

If Obama doesn’t go big in his jobs plan on Thursday, any proposals will disappear into the ether along with his chances for re-election. President Obama has a big task ahead of him on Thursday. He has to be honest. He has to go long. He has to break some china. And he has to

Here’s a proposal for renewal that can focus the president’s campaign and spark the electorate. The economy is slightly above stall speed. Unemployment is stuck around 9% and is set to fall slowly at best. The arguments for a lost economic decade look more and more plausible. The stock market is down 20% over the

At a recent breakfast event for the Next American Economy, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Bo Cutter invited Amir Bhide to discuss the reasons he thinks our economic system is malfunctioning. Bhide notes that GDP has skyrocketed in just the past two centuries. Why? Much of it is due to innovation. But while the U.S. is one of the top innovators in the world, “we have a great innovation system in spite of the financial sector, not because of the financial sector,” he adds. We need to move from the “pathological” finance we have now to good finance.

At a recent breakfast event put on by the Roosevelt Institute’s Next American Economy project, Senior Fellow Bo Cutter invited Lenny Mendonca, Director of Firm Research at the McKinsey Global Institute, to discuss what he calls the US’ “dual-speed economy.” One the one hand are globally traded sectors “that are subject to competition… are innovating, are productive,” he says. On the other hand is the public sector, which is “creating a drag on the economy that is the equivalent of… an annual de-stimulus program,” he says. The solution? Bring innovation and productivity growth the public sector.

Ryan’s budget doesn’t fix the problem. Obama’s budget is somewhat better. Who will take on the real problems? So now we have a clear bond rating warning from S&P. I know that almost everyone in our current political system will flip this off. But let’s be clear: Chief Financial Officers of companies are often fired

His vision is better than that of the right, but does it go far enough? I drew four conclusions from Obama’s speech about the budget on Wednesday. First, President Obama should have given this particular speech a long time ago — it would have been vastly more valuable a year ago. What he did best

Bryce Covert sat down with Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Bo Cutter, who was Director of the National Economic Council and Deputy Assistant to the President from 1992-1996 during the Clinton Presidency and the last government shutdown. He explains why the current shutdown is small potatoes compared to the looming battle over the debt ceiling and

The way things are going, we’ll have scraps — if anything — to spend on vital government functions. While the Republican right carries on its budget antics in the House and the left denies there is any problem, we are allowing the most important part of the public sector to deteriorate into irrelevancy. Let’s start

If we’re forced back to square one by the Supreme Court, why not get it right? My colleague, Bo Cutter, has noted the likelihood of continued challenges to health care reform in the wake of the recent Florida State Supreme Court decision to invalidate the entire health care bill. Frankly, the legal attacks on the

Shaping the future with today’s choices. I do not think that the decision — to throw out the entire health care reform, all of it — was surprising, given the source. I do think it was outrageous. Nor do I think this, by itself, says anything substantive about a final court decision — we now

As President Obama gets ready for his second State of the Union address tonight, Roosevelt Institute Fellows have some suggestions for the priorities he should set to put the country on the right path — economically, socially, and morally. “I would like to see President Obama express that business is a means to meet social

Shaping the future with today’s choices. The presidency of Barack Obama is dangerously close to one term president territory. Events, the nature of the opposition and both strategic and tactical White House errors brought President Obama to this point. Like a sailing ship clawing away from the rocks on a lee shore, the path out

Don’t Get Angry. Get Some Real Change.

President Obama can solve the economy’s problems and win back his base, but he has to get with the program first. For once, let’s praise President Obama (marginally), not bury him. As Bo Cutter has already argued, in the aftermath of the elections, the president probably did the best he could do on taxes. Ideally,

Obama’s Out of Magic Options

Shaping the future with today’s choices. Why is anyone surprised about the tax deal and why is the Democratic party’s left once again going crazy? To start with, you could see this from a mile away, long before the November elections. President Obama never had the votes to cut off the Bush tax reductions at

Focusing on the Idea of “Focus”

Shaping the future with today’s choices. In a recent column, Paul Krugman argued that the real problem of the Obama Administration for the last two years was “a lack of audacity.” He went on to disagree completely with the view — which I have certainly expressed — that the Obama Administration had not been sufficiently

Shaping the future with today’s choices. I know it’s illegitimate to refer to a professed conservative favorably in these surroundings, but nevertheless I want to underline Ross Douthat’s column in Monday’s New York Times: “The Class War We Need.” Douthat uses mortgage deduction to make the point that too much of our tax structure and

Shaping the future with today’s choices. I draw the following conclusions from this sorry episode. In relieving General McChrystal of his command, President Obama was right, given the mess the Rolling Stone’s article presented him. I can’t even imagine how the President would have been eviscerated if he had kept the general in his post.

Shaping the future with today’s choices. Republican Senator Bennett was defeated in his attempt to be renominated for a fourth term as senator from Utah last week by an outraged Tea Party convention — although outraged about what remains unclear. I knew Senator Bennett distantly, disagreed with almost all of his policy beliefs, strongly supported

Shaping the future with today’s choices. I was talking over drinks with a distinguished retired CEO of an iconic American manufacturing company – and he said these executive compensation numbers are crazy. So I decided to talk about why. To be clear, I do not think this is a pure economic and market issue; I

Shaping the future with today’s choices. To start with, it is hard to imagine any other organization on earth in which the leader/CEO would still be around after such a long sequence of disastrous, morally and ethically wrong decisions. It certainly helps to be the lineal descendant of one of the 12 disciples and to

Shaping the future with today’s choices. This is a criticism of Goldman — or an explanation of Goldman-like behavior — from a Goldman admirer. I admire the company, its people, and the quality of its work. I think it is a great company and unique for its industry in its ambitions to be a good

Shaping the future with today’s choices. This isn’t economics, but then David Brooks in his March 25 column predicts the end of economics as a discipline, saying that “economics would again become a subsection of history and moral philosophy.” (And not a minute too soon). In any case, I’ve been brooding about the Antichrist, after

More on the Crisis of 2018

Shaping the future with today’s choices As I have said in other posts, the Roosevelt Institute is starting a project we are calling “The Next American Economy: Nation-Building for our own Nation.” I will be writing about aspects of the next American economy more and more. This is a small road sign on the impending

Shaping the future with today’s choices. Rahm Emanuel is famous for saying that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste, and then the Administration wasted one. The reason for raising this is not to look back and play whack-a-mole with Rahm or the White House, but to underline a couple of points about the

Obama’s Budget Freeze

Shaping the future with today’s choices. I genuinely don’t get it. First, while the freeze is stated as applying to domestic, discretionary budget authority, after allowing for the stimulus package of last year — which raised spending in order to increase the economic growth rate and reduce unemployment, it clearly reduces the effect of the

Let’s Just Say “No”

Shaping the future with today’s choices. The Senate and the Obama Administration want to pass the Senate version of health care reform by Christmas Eve. In the end, the Senate probably will pass a bill. The nation, however, would be a lot better off if the Senate did not vote. Here’s why. First, this legislation

A Tale of Two Programs

Shaping the future with today’s choices. The contrast between the President’s approach to the Afghanistan War policy and his approach to health care reform could not be greater and in that contrast is a fascinating glimpse of a man growing as President. No matter where you stand on Afghanistan, you have to respect how President

This is the second installment in my comments on Bo Cutter’s essay defending Treasury Secretary Geithner. Bo was a managing partner of Warburg Pincus, a major global private equity firm and led President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) transition team. He was Bob Rubin’s deputy at the National Economic Council. The first installment

Bill Black explains how Bo Cutter’s defense of Tim Geithner reveals the  fraud and failure that plagued the financial sector  long before the crisis. Bo Cutter has presented the best possible defense of Treasury Secretary Geithner. It is a remarkable defense because it is premised on a scathing indictment of Wall Street, theoclassical economics, modern

To mark the 80th Anniversary of the Great Crash of ‘29, we asked 15 progressive thinkers to write about lessons learned and what lies ahead. Together, their reflections constitute a New Agenda for America — a message of how the ideals of a fair society should apply to the economic and social policies of our

The Doomsday Machine

Shaping the future with today’s choices. Paul Krugman has a piece in the New York Times today arguing how and why the new health care system we are likely to get will work, he concludes: “This thing will work.” He’s wrong. Its structure makes it much more likely that it will blow up rather than

The Crisis of 2016: Part One

Shaping the future with today’s choices. Right about now is a good time to start this discussion. The federal deficit for 2009 was just announced to have been $1.4 trillion, about 10% of GDP. We are on the road to approving a health care reform that will add at least between $25 and $50 billion

Never Miss a Chance to Miss a Chance

Shaping the future with today’s choices. As I watch the health care debate, it seems pretty clear to me that the progressive side missed a huge opportunity in its tactics – although the word implies that there was something purposeful going on. Progressives for ideological reasons drove a stake in the ground around the issue

Shaping the future with today’s choices. President Obama’s speech last Wednesday night was an “8” in public presentation terms.  The speech gave health care reform new life and his administration new spirit.  But the sense afterward, among both Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate, was that it was very general. And it

Shaping the future with today’s choices. I keep trying to get off the issue of healthcare because I think there are other issues that are at least as important.  I keep coming back to it, not because of the inherent fascination of the issue, but because it has begun to color almost every issue of

Healthcare: The “Hail Mary” Pass

Shaping the future with today’s choices. President Obama was awfully good last night. Reading between the lines, the New York Times gave him a “6” or “7” – I guess because he did not promise to fall on his sword over a public option – and the Wall Street Journal gave him an “8.” You

Shaping the future with today’s choices. The House of Representative has produced a terrible health reform plan.  Sometimes choices are hard. This one isn’t: Nothing is far, far better than this mess.  It can’t be fixed, patched, reworked or adjusted: it should be thrown away.  I know it sounds strange, but the right course for

Bo Cutter explains how a well-meaning congressional process called “reconciliation” – intended to prevent filibuster on contentious budget bills – will stifle meaningful debate if it is misused to push Obama’s healthcare reform plans through Congress. One of a limited number of dependable constants about government – which I will cover in these blogs and

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