Web Wealth: Presidents and the economy

Posted: November 09, 2008

The economy was the number-one issue in the presidential race won by Democrat Barack Obama. So, what happens now? Can a president do anything? Let's find out.

Prez can't fix it. Gerald Ford famously exhorted Americans to "Whip Inflation Now," partly by wearing "WIN" buttons. This preelection Newsweek article contests the notion that a president - any president - can "fix" the economy. It does, however, say that some presidential decisions over the years have managed to hurt the economy, at least temporarily.

Nobel opinions. Newsweek also sampled seven Nobel laureates on the subject of fixing the economy. First on the list was Paul Krugman, who won the Nobel prize for economics last month. Krugman says that in these "wild times" there should be "a blizzard of activity" of spending, financial regulation, and health-care reform by the new president. Other luminaries with opinions here include A. Michael Spence of the Hoover Institute and Edward C. Prescott of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

Obama's plan. The Obama campaign site outlines the president-elect's economic agenda. In the heat of office, it might come to resemble more of a wish list than a plan. Particulars include the famous "working families" tax cut, simplified tax filing, green jobs, and "broadband to every community in America."

www.barackobama.com/issues/economy/

iTunes U. Apple's iTunes store includes an area called iTunes U, where colleges and universities put classroom lectures online for students, and in many cases for public use as well. We've been listening to this fall's lectures in economics by University of California, Berkeley, professor J. Bradford DeLong, a former deputy assistant Treasury secretary. DeLong conveniently explains where to read his lecture notes online, too. This link is where you go to download the iTunes software.


Contact staff writer Reid Kanaley at 215-854-5114 or rkanaley@phillynews.com.

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