James Stock

Harvard

Personal Homepage

  • Harold Hitchings Burbank Professor of Political Economy
  • Chair, Department of Economics, Harvard University (2007–present)
  • Co-Editor of Econometrica (2009–2013)
  • Editor of The Review of Economics and Statistics (2002–03)

Voting History

Online Sales Taxes

Subjecting online sales from out-of-state vendors to the same retail sales taxes imposed on in-state sales would raise more tax revenue in the states making this change while reducing the pro-online bias of current policy.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Agree 7

Cable-Satellite TV Fees

Consumers would not necessarily be better off if cable and satellite TV firms were required to offer a la carte pricing for individual channels, because the networks' programming charges and the satellite-and-cable fees could adjust in response to this rule.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Agree 5

Healthcare and Taxes

Long run fiscal sustainability in the U.S. will require cuts in currently promised Medicare and Medicaid benefits and/or tax increases that include higher taxes on households with incomes below $250,000.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Agree 8

Europe

Question A:

Assuming that Germany eventually agrees to backstop the debt of southern European countries, the eurozone as a whole will be better off if that bailout is unconditional, rather than accompanied by the labor market reforms and future budget controls that Germany is demanding of countries in return.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Disagree 6

Question B: If Germany fails to bail out the southern tier of Europe, its own economy will be hurt more — because of output and asset losses — than it would be by an unconditional bailout.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Uncertain 5

Question C: The main reason other eurozone countries need to worry about Greek banks losing access to ECB support is because the ensuing chaos in Greece could trigger bank runs in peripheral countries.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Agree 6

Laffer Curve

Question A: A cut in federal income tax rates in the US right now would lead to higher GDP within five years than without the tax cut.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Uncertain 5

Question B: A cut in federal income tax rates in the US right now would raise taxable income enough so that the annual total tax revenue would be higher within five years than without the tax cut.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Strongly Disagree 7

China-US Trade

Question A: Trade with China makes most Americans better off because, among other advantages, they can buy goods that are made or assembled more cheaply in China.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Agree 8

Question B: Some Americans who work in the production of competing goods, such as clothing and furniture, are made worse off by trade with China.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Agree 8

College Tuition

An important reason why private college and university tuition has risen faster than the CPI during the past few decades is because competition for faculty members — whose potential earnings in other sectors have steadily improved — has driven up their pay faster than their productivity.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Uncertain 5

Fiscal Cliff

If the fiscal changes that are planned under current US law take place next year — including Bush era tax cuts expiring, Medicare payment rates to doctors being cut, the AMT applying to many more taxpayers, and automatic cuts in defense and non-defense discretionary spending kicking in — then US real GDP growth in 2013 will be lower than it would be under the CBO's alternative fiscal scenario, in which the above changes do not occur.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Agree 7

Fracking

New technology for fracking natural gas, by lowering energy costs in the United States, will make US industrial firms more cost competitive and thus significantly stimulate the growth of US merchandise exports.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Disagree 5

Cuba’s Economy

Cuba’s low per-capita income growth — 1.2 percent per year since 1960 —has more to do with Cuba’s own economic policies than with the U.S. embargo on trade and tourism.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Agree 6

French Labor Policies

Question A: Reducing the minimum retirement age in France from 62 back to age 60, permanently, would reduce long-term French economic growth and substantially raise French debt relative to GDP over time.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Vote
Agree 7

Question B: France’s overall employment is higher today because of the 35 hour work week than it would be without a limit on weekly hours.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Vote
Disagree 6

Price Gouging

Connecticut should pass its Senate Bill 60, which states that during a “severe weather event emergency, no person within the chain of distribution of consumer goods and services shall sell or offer to sell consumer goods or services for a price that is unconscionably excessive.”

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
No Opinion
Disagree 6

Security Screening

The former head of the Transportation Security Administration is correct in arguing that randomizing airport “security procedures encountered by passengers (additional upper-torso pat-downs, a thorough bag search, a swab test of carry-ons, etc.), while not subjecting everyone to the full gamut" would make it "much harder for terrorists to learn how to evade security procedures."

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 5
This depends on the details. If the methods are secret then using them rarely will make them harder to discern in which case, yes.
Uncertain 5

Ticket Resale

Laws that limit the resale of tickets for entertainment and sports events make potential audience members for those events worse off on average.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 6
Agree 7

Fannie and Freddie

Prior to the crisis, the benefits from the funding advantage that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had by virtue of perceived government support mostly went to their shareholders, rather than into substantially lower interest rates on residential mortgages.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did not answer
Uncertain 5

School Vouchers

Question A: If public school students had the option of taking the government money (local, state, federal) currently being spent on their own education and turning that money into vouchers that they could use towards covering the costs of any private school or public school of their choice (e.g. charter schools), most would be better off.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Uncertain 6

Question B: The main drawback to allowing all public school students to take the government money (local, state, federal) currently being spent on their own education and turning that money into vouchers that they could use towards covering the costs of any private school or public school of their choice (e.g. charter schools) would be that some students would not make an active choice and would be left with much worse peers and a weaker school.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Agree 5

Too Big to Fail

Question A: The average size of the 19 financial firms that just completed the Federal Reserve stress tests (i.e. the CCAR) would be substantially smaller if they did not have implicit government support.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Uncertain 1
Uncertain 5

Question B: The 19 financial firms that just completed the Federal Reserve stress tests (i.e. the CCAR) are big primarily because of economies of scale and scope, rather than because of implicit government support.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Uncertain 1
Uncertain 5

Gasoline Prices

Changes in U.S. gasoline prices over the past 10 years have predominantly been due to market factors rather than U.S. federal economic or energy policies.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 9
Agree 8

Free Trade

Question A: Freer trade improves productive efficiency and offers consumers better choices, and in the long run these gains are much larger than any effects on employment.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 5
Agree 8

Question B: On average, citizens of the U.S. have been better off with the North American Free Trade Agreement than they would have been if the trade rules for the U.S., Canada and Mexico prior to NAFTA had remained in place.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 4
Agree 6

Bank Bailouts

Because the U.S. Treasury bailed out and backstopped banks (by injecting equity into them in late 2008, and later committing to provide public capital to any banks that failed the stress tests and could not raise private capital), the U.S. unemployment rate was lower at the end of 2010 than it would have been without these measures.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 7
Agree 6

Health-Care Licensing

Loosening current licensing restrictions on the range of services that nurses, physician assistants, dental hygienists and pharmacists are permitted to perform would help patients on balance, because the additional safety risks would be small compared to the decreased costs in waiting time and fees.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Agree 6

Short Selling

Bans on the short selling of financial securities, such as stocks and government bonds, lead to prices that are further, on average, from their fundamental values.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 4
Agree 5

Economic Stimulus

Question A: Because of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the U.S. unemployment rate was lower at the end of 2010 than it would have been without the stimulus bill.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Strongly Agree 8
Agree 7

Question B:

Taking into account all of the ARRA’s economic consequences — including the economic costs of raising taxes to pay for the spending, its effects on future spending, and any other likely future effects — the benefits of the stimulus will end up exceeding its costs.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 7
Uncertain 6

Rent Control

Local ordinances that limit rent increases for some rental housing units, such as in New York and San Francisco, have had a positive impact over the past three decades on the amount and quality of broadly affordable rental housing in cities that have used them.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Disagree 6

Executive Pay

Question A:

The typical chief executive officer of a publicly traded corporation in the U.S. is paid more than his or her marginal contribution to the firm's value.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Uncertain 4

Question B:

Mandating that U.S. publicly listed corporations must allow shareholders to cast a non-binding vote on executive compensation was a good idea. 

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Uncertain 5

Inequality and Skills

One of the leading reasons for rising U.S. income inequality over the past three decades is that technological change has affected workers with some skill sets differently than others.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Disagree 5 Agree 7

Gold Standard

Question A:

If the US replaced its discretionary monetary policy regime with a gold standard, defining a "dollar" as a specific number of ounces of gold, the price-stability and employment outcomes would be better for the average American.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Strongly Disagree 8
Strongly Disagree 8

Question B: There are many factors besides US inflation risk that influence the current dollar price of gold.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Strongly Agree 9
Strongly Agree 9

Congestion Pricing

In general, using more congestion charges in crowded transportation networks — such as higher tolls during peak travel times in cities, and peak fees for airplane takeoff and landing slots — and using the proceeds to lower other taxes would make citizens on average better off.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Strongly Agree 8

Carbon Tax

A tax on the carbon content of fuels would be a less expensive way to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions than would a collection of policies such as “corporate average fuel economy” requirements for automobiles.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Strongly Agree 6
Strongly Agree 7

Drug Use Policies

Question A: All else equal, making drugs illegal raises street prices for those drugs because suppliers require extra compensation for the risk of incarceration and other punishments.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 5
Agree 8

Question B: The Netherlands restrictions on “soft drugs” combined with a moderate tax aimed at deterring their consumption would have lower social costs than continuing to prohibit use of those drugs as in the US. (Click here for a summary of the Netherlands restrictions.)

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Uncertain 1
Agree 5

Italy’s Debt

Question A:

Credible assumptions for inflation, GDP growth and primary budget deficits in Italy imply that either the Debt-to-GDP ratio in Italy would increase sharply if Italian interest rates on 10-year government debt remained at the November 30 level of around 7 percent or Italy would lose access to the bond market.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Agree 6

Question B:

Absent outside help to deal with runs, such as a pledge of fiscal support from Germany or an unlimited commitment by the ECB to buy bonds, there is no spending-and-tax plan Italy can announce that would be credible enough to hold its interest rates low enough to stabilize its Debt-to-GDP ratio.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Did Not Answer
Uncertain 5

Healthcare

There are no consequential distortions created by the tax preference that favors obtaining health insurance through employers.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Disagree 6
Strongly Disagree 8

Buy American

Federal mandates that government purchases should be “buy American” unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, have a significant positive impact on U.S. manufacturing employment.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Disagree 5
The exception in which "buy American" makes a difference is in military production for which the government is the main market.
Disagree 5

Tax Reform

Question A: Eliminating tax deductions for non-investment personal interest expenses (e.g., on mortgages), with reductions in personal tax rates that are both budget neutral and keep the burden of taxes by income group the same, would lead to more efficient financing decisions by individuals.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 4
Agree 7

Question B: Reducing the deductibility of interest expenses for non-financial businesses to equalize the overall tax cost of debt and equity financing, while using the extra revenue to reduce personal and corporate tax rates in a budget neutral fashion that also keeps the burden of taxes the same, would lead to more efficient financing decisions by firms.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Uncertain 1
Agree 7

Stock Prices

Question A: Unless they have inside information, very few investors, if any, can consistently make accurate predictions about whether the price of an individual stock will rise or fall on a given day.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Strongly Agree 7
Strongly Agree 8

Question B: Plausible expectations of future dividends, discounted using a plausible risk-adjusted interest rate, explain well the level of stock prices for recently listed internet businesses in 1999.  

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Disagree 6
Disagree 7

Exchange Rates

The Chinese government pursues policies that keep the renminbi's exchange rate vis à vis the dollar lower than it would be if the currency floated without those policies.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 5
Agree 6

Education

Public school students would receive a higher quality education if they all had the option of taking the government money (local, state, federal) currently being spent on their own education and turning that money into vouchers that they could use towards covering the costs of any private school or public school of their choice (e.g. charter schools).

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Uncertain 4
School choice has merits but the system is complex and long-term effects on both private and public education is unclear.
Uncertain 6

Taxes

Question A: All else equal, permanently raising the federal marginal tax rate on ordinary income by 1 percentage point for those in the top (i.e., currently 35%) tax bracket would increase federal tax revenue over the next 10 years.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Agree 4
Agree 8

Question B:

The cumulative budget shortfalls in the US over the next 10 years can be reduced by half (or more) purely by increasing the federal marginal tax rate on ordinary income for those in the top tax bracket.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Disagree 4
Disagree 7

Monetary Policy

All else equal, the Fed's new plan to increase the maturity of its Treasury holdings will boost expected real GDP growth for calendar year 2012 by at least one percentage point.

Vote Confidence Comments Median Survey Vote Median Survey Confidence
Disagree 8
Reducing long term rates by (say) 25 basis points or less is likely to have a positive but small effect on short-term growth.
Disagree 4

10 New Economic Experts join the IGM Panel


For the past two years, our expert panelists have been informing the public about the extent to which economists agree or disagree on important public policy issues. This week, we are delighted to announce that we are expanding the IGM Economic Experts Panel to add ten new distinguished economists. Like our other experts, these new panelists have impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters, and their names will be familiar to other economists and the media.

To give the public a broad sense of their views on policy issues, each new expert has responded to a selection of 16 statements that our panel had previously addressed. We chose these 16 statements, which cover a wide range of important policy areas, because the original panelists' responses to them were analyzed in a paper comparing the views of our economic experts with those of the American public. You can find that paper, by Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales, here. The paper, along with other analyses of the experts' views, was discussed during the American Economic Association annual meetings, and the video can be found here.

The new panelists' responses to these statements can be seen on their individual voting history pages. Our ten new economic experts are:

Abhijit Banerjee (MIT)
Markus K. Brunnermeier (Princeton)
Liran Einav (Stanford)
Amy Finkelstein (MIT)
Oliver Hart (Harvard)
Hilary Hoynes (Berkeley)
Steven N. Kaplan (Chicago)
Larry Samuelson (Yale)
Carl Shapiro (Berkeley)
Robert Shimer (Chicago)


Please note that, for the 16 previous topics on which these new panelists have voted, we left the charts showing the distribution of responses unchanged. Those charts reflect the responses that our original panelists gave at the time, and we have not altered them to reflect the views of the new experts.

We have also taken this opportunity to ask our original panelists whether they would vote differently on any of the statements we have asked about in the past. Several experts chose to highlight statements to which they would currently respond differently. In such cases, you will see this "revote" below the panelist's original vote. We think you will enjoy seeing examples of statements on which some experts have reconsidered.

As with the 16 previous statements voted on by new panelists, these "revote" responses are not reflected in the chart that we display showing the distribution of views for that topic: all the charts for previous questions reflect the distribution of views that the experts expressed when the statement was originally posed.

About the IGM Economic Experts Panel

This panel explores the extent to which economists agree or disagree on major public policy issues. To assess such beliefs we assembled this panel of expert economists. Statistics teaches that a sample of (say) 40 opinions will be adequate to reflect a broader population if the sample is representative of that population.

To that end, our panel was chosen to include distinguished experts with a keen interest in public policy from the major areas of economics, to be geographically diverse, and to include Democrats, Republicans and Independents as well as older and younger scholars. The panel members are all senior faculty at the most elite research universities in the United States. The panel includes Nobel Laureates, John Bates Clark Medalists, fellows of the Econometric society, past Presidents of both the American Economics Association and American Finance Association, past Democratic and Republican members of the President's Council of Economics, and past and current editors of the leading journals in the profession. This selection process has the advantage of not only providing a set of panelists whose names will be familiar to other economists and the media, but also delivers a group with impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters.

Finally, it is important to explain one aspect of our voting process. In some instances a panelist may neither agree nor disagree with a statement, and there can be two very different reasons for this. One case occurs when an economist is an expert on a topic and yet sees the evidence on the exact claim at hand as ambiguous. In such cases our panelists vote "uncertain". A second case relates to statements on topics so far removed from the economist's expertise that he or she feels unqualified to vote. In this case, our panelists vote "no opinion".

The Economic Experts Panel questions are emailed individually to the members of the panel, and each responds electronically at his or her convenience. Panelists may consult whatever resources they like before answering.

Members of the public are free to suggest questions (see link below), and the panelists suggest many themselves. Members of the IGM faculty are responsible for deciding the final version of each week’s question. We usually send a draft of the question to the panel in advance, and invite them to point out problems with the wording if they see any. In response, we typically receive a handful of suggested clarifications from individual experts. This process helps us to spot inconsistencies, and to reduce vagueness or problems of interpretation.

The panel data are copyrighted by the Initiative on Global Markets and are being analyzed for an article to appear in a leading peer-reviewed journal.

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