Who is Alan Krueger? More importantly, is anyone in this administration going to propose solid legislation and policies, well thought out in detail, that will actually work to get America back to work? Bottom line, it looks like the same ole party line and finding anywhere Krueger has crossed it comes up empty.
Alan Krueger is a Labor Economist at Princeton and the first bad sign is he was the chief economist at Treasury during 2009-2010, under Tim Geithner. He is tennis buddies with Larry Summers.
The Wall Street Journal says the choice is all about who is willing and who looks real good on TV. Even worse, the Wall Street Journal claims Presidents don't consult Economists since economic policy is a political decision. Awesome, economic policy is a political decision and explains why there is so much wrong with America these days. If you cannot base policy on theory and what is actually happening, how can one expect to do much to turn anything around? Below is the Wall Street Journal video on Alan Krueger, the position and his background:
Krueger was also the Clinton administration's chief labor economist. This too is horrific in a way for it was Clinton who signed NAFTA, the China PNTR and enabled foreign guest worker Visas as well as offshore outsourcing.
One of the more hopeful signs is Krueger's call out of the Bush administration for privatizing job exchanges for the unemployed:
You would think that if the government spent over a million dollars on research and discovered that a new way of helping the unemployed find jobs was less effective and more costly than the old way, it would continue with the old way. Yet the Bush administration has done the opposite.
Yes, believe this or not, government offshore outsourced and privatized a host of jobs related to the poor and unemployed support programs,. Does it make any sense to ship a U.S. job to India which answers an unemployed American's food stamp questions?
From his Princeton website is a list of working papers, and unfortunately he won an award with an author of one of the biggest economic fudge papers I've ever read, David Card. Card, trying to claim that a sudden influx of immigrants does not negatively impact labor markets, used a localized time limited event: the Mariel boat lift, Miami in the 1980's. Card conveniently ignored the massive amount of drug money pouring into the city as a variable in the Miami 1980s anomaly. Billions in drug money was being laundered through local Miami banks, construction and other activities which generated jobs and created economic growth. That's right, literally the Cocaine trade of the 1980's not only made Miami the murder capital of the U.S. but also fueled a localized economic boom. No surprise then with a massive increase in demand for workers, sudden influxes of immigrants would have no negative impact. Work like this is a fine example of someone touting the political party line instead of objective scientific research in my opinion.
Also the above is fairly shocking since Krueger is involved with statistical integrity, or the data improvement program. When one sets a few labor economics equation variables to zero, (worker displacement magically doesn't happen? O Rly?), in order to make the desired conclusion look right in the dusty obscure corner of economics equations, what does that say about overall raw data integrity as an agenda?
Krueger's Congressional Testimony during the 2001 recession makes no mention, at all, of the massive exodus of jobs to China and India. Labor woes are attributed to technological advances and blaming Americans, claiming they are unskilled. This again is the official party line, to never mention the O word, offshore outsourcing, ignoring raw data from corporate overseas headcount, profits, and especially the trade deficits and lackluster economic growth. Here's another one, again, ignoring the massive amount of jobs offshore outsourced during 2002-2003 and instead implying it's all about education as the cause of jobless recoveries.
On foreign guest worker Visas, well documented to displace U.S. workers, especially the H-1B Visas, there is also denial from Krueger. In this piece, Krueger discounts George Borjas findings on wage repression and displacement as well as the loopholes in these Visas where foreign workers are imported and used to replace American workers. H-1B is called the offshore outsourcing Visa by the India BPO industry for a reason. Technology transfer in advanced technology often must be done through people. Borjas may think wage repression is great for businesses, but at least he doesn't deny wage repression and worker displacement is happening.
Some better signs, Krueger wrote a paper on how the Jobs Corps of the 1960s was actually successful. Considering the horrific unemployment rates for teens and the shocking unemployment rates for black teens, Krueger's promotion of a youth jobs corp is a positive sign we might just get something for a direct jobs program.
Still, there are estimated to be 8 million or so illegal workers in the United States and Obama just granted de facto amnesty by refusing to deport them, loosening up those jobs for unemployed Americans. Once again labor economic laws of supply and demand in a depressed economy are not even acknowledged. It's pretty clear globalized labor arbitrage won't be recognized by this guy either, even if a few mathematical variables need to be set to zero and a few data sets need to be redefined as orthogonal in order to deny it.
The last 2011 piece from Krueger's working papers is simply a survey of what kind of correlations exist between the job hunt and unemployment insurance. Not exactly bold research tackling the new problems in a globalization, labor arbitrage era. Take another example, Krueger, fortunately knows about depressed employment to population ratios, yet presents no policy recommendations on what to do about the millions of people who have dropped out of the unemployment count.
From that bastion of corporate agendas as news, Fortune Magazine comes some more clues on Krueger. Now to be fair, Krueger just lists a few merits of a consumption tax, but the real question is why Krueger didn't mention a VAT, a tax that can actually assist with the trade deficit, instead?
What's the bottom line? It's looking real bad Obama is going to actually enact the kind of policies needed to generate jobs, with an it's coming really new economic policy. Krueger is going to be pleasant to watch on TV, but so was Alan Goolsbee. Still doesn't mean objective analysis reigns and thus correct policy advice is given. But since when does Washington care about accurate analysis and right application of economic theory?