J.W. Mason

J. W. Mason is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and associate professor of economics at John Jay College, City University of New York. His work focuses on macroeconomic policy, corporate and public finance, and debt. His recent academic publications includes articles on debates over financialization; the interaction of monetary and fiscal policy; state and local government assets and debt; and the evolution of household debt in the United States. He is frequently quoted in the press on macroeconomic policy questions.

In addition to his scholarly work, he has done policy work for the New York Working Families Party, the New York City Independent Budget Office, and the AFL-CIO, and has published popular articles in The Nation, In These Times, The American Prospect, Jacobin, Dissent and Boston Review, among other venues.

 

 

J.W. Mason in the News


Why the Phillips Curve Is Seen as IrrelevantBloomberg

Amazon’s Latest Experiment: Retraining Its Work ForceThe New York Times

Economist J.W. Mason Explains How the Green New Deal Could Save Us AllNowThis

We are facing an unprecedented economic crisis, and the government must take on a larger role in our economy.  In response to the coronavirus, the unthinkable is quickly becoming thinkable. As of March 24, 2020, Congress is considering a $2 trillion stimulus; a $1,200 grant to all Americans; bailouts of firms facing bankruptcy; suspension of

How Much Stimulus Do We Need?

If the experience of the last recession is a guide, avoiding a severe downturn will take far more stimulus spending than is currently being discussed—as much as $3 trillion. The coronavirus is, first and foremost, a public health crisis. The most immediate questions it poses are how to keep it from spreading, and how to

The latest CBO forecasts show lower interest rates, a lower debt-GDP ratio, and no crowd-out: a reminder to check economic assumptions and a recipe for increased public spending.  Earlier this week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its Budget and Economic Outlook for the next decade. The numbers that have gotten the most attention are

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Anyone who follows the DC budget game knows that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) serves as its referee; any proposal that involves new spending or revenue is scored by the CBO for its impact on the federal debt over the next 10 years. That score normally sets the terms on which the proposal will be

Behind the Numbers: Powell Backs Down

The Fed was in the news this past week, partly for its annual Jackson Hole conference, partly for some impolitic comments by a former official, but mainly for its recent decision to not lower interest rates. Most observers had expected that the cut in rates this spring would be followed by another cut this time.

On July 9 and 10, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testified before Congress regarding the Fed’s conduct of monetary policy. Both his prepared testimony and his responses to legislators’ pointed questioning marked a dramatic departure from the consensus that has long guided macroeconomic policy in the United States. When historians write the story of American

The greatest challenge of the 21st century—the climate crisis—is here: The global community has just 11 years to cut emissions by 45 percent and must achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 to prevent temperatures from rising more than 1.5oC, according to climate scientists. In Decarbonizing the US Economy: Pathways Toward a Green New Deal, Roosevelt Fellows Mark

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the unemployment figures for May. As expected, the reported unemployment rate was very low—3.6 percent, the same as last month. Combined with the steady growth in employment over the past few years, this level of unemployment—not seen since the 1960s—suggests an exceptionally strong labor market by historical

From unaffordable housing, to lack of access to higher education and health care, to extreme income and wealth inequality, to the existential crisis of climate change, the US faces many urgent problems that call for a substantially expanded, more active public sector. The question, however, is always: How do we pay for it? In “Fiscal

At its December meeting, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate a quarter point. The move, while widely expected, represented a clear rebuke to President Trump, who has repeatedly urged the Fed to keep rates low. He took to Twitter after the move to attack Fed head Jerome Powell as a golfer who has

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Donald Trump misses no opportunity to boast about the strength of the U.S. economy in his first year in office. And it’s true: There has been some good news recently. Business investment spending is rising again, after years of stagnation. Unemployment is down, and the share of the population with jobs has gone up—which shows

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Despite record corporate profits and high stock prices, most Americans have not shared in the post-recession recovery. In a new Roosevelt Institute report, Fellows Mike Konczal and J.W. Mason discuss how the Great Recession changed the way the Federal Reserve (the Fed) uses macroeconomic monetary policy—a set of rules influencing the supply of credit and

“Right now,” wrote Senator Chuck Schumer in a New York Times op-ed on Monday, “millions of unemployed or underemployed people, particularly those without a college degree, could be brought back into the labor force” with appropriate government policies. With this seemingly anodyne point, Schumer took sides in a debate that has sharply divided economists and policymakers: Is

Today’s dominant story, told by the Federal Reserve, the media, and many prominent economists, is that the economy has recovered from the recession and is growing about as fast as it can without overheating. This outlook has led the Fed to increase interest rates four times since December 2015, ending the historically low rates it

Five years after the official end of the recession, economic activity in the U.S. remains below potential. One important reason is the slow growth in business investment, which remains weak, especially compared to previous recoveries. To an increasing number of observers, the weakness in investment appears related to the rise in what observers are calling

The goal of this paper is to address the most common objections to the idea that short-termism—the focus on short time horizons by both corporate managers and financial markets—is a serious problem for the U.S. economy. These objections fall into three broad categories: short-termism is not real (because of an apparent increase in business investment),

This paper provides evidence that the strong empirical relationship of corporate cash flow and borrowing to productive corporate investment has disappeared in the last 30 years and has been replaced with corporate funds and shareholder payouts. Whereas firms once borrowed to invest and improve their long-term performance, they now borrow to enrich their investors in

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