Academic journal article Brookings Papers on Economic Activity

Editors' Introduction

Academic journal article Brookings Papers on Economic Activity

Editors' Introduction

Article excerpt

THE BROOKING5 PANEL ON ECONOMIC ACTIVITY held its ninety-fourth conference in Washington, D.C., on September 13 and 14, 2012. The papers at the conference, like those at other recent meetings of the Panel, focused on issues raised by the run-up to the Great Recession, the recession itself, and the slow recovery.

The first paper, by Jacob Jensen, Ethan Kaplan, Suresh Naidu, and Laurence Wilse-Samson, examines an issue that has received considerable attention for its possible impact on the policy response to the recession and the slow recovery: political polarization. The paper combines enormous data sets and recently developed statistical techniques to examine the dynamics of the polarization of political discourse, both in Congress and in the broader society, over more than a century. The next three papers examine various aspects of the labor market. In the second paper of the volume, Regis Barnichon and Christopher Nekarda make a strong case that using information on inflows and outflows from employment and unemployment can lead to substantially better forecasts of the unemployment rate. The third paper, by Bruce Meyer and James Sullivan, shows that focusing on consumption rather than income and correcting for biases in standard price indexes lead to the conclusion that--contrary to the conventional wisdom--poverty in the United States has fallen sharply over the past half century. In the fourth paper, Robert Moffitt documents that the years before the Great Recession saw a downward trend in the fraction of the U. …

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