The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s mission “is to promote and defend liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise in Texas and the nation by educating and affecting policymakers and the Texas public policy debate with academically sound research and outreach.” In support of this mission, I had the honor of being invited to give a keynote speech during the “State of the Economy” roundtable discussion during last week’s 52nd Annual Missouri Valley Economic Association (MVEA) meetings in Kansas City, Missouri.
The MVEA “was founded in 1963 to encourage the development of economics as a theoretical as well as applied discipline, to foster communication among scholars in those fields, and to facilitate the extension and the dissemination of knowledge thereof.” This was my ninth MVEA meetings to attend and I’ve been a Director on the Executive Committee for the past two years. The meetings provide a friendly, academic setting to present research, get valuable feedback, and discuss policy-related issues.
This year’s annual meeting had an attendance of about 250 economists presenting research in more than 60 sessions. These sessions included presentations of top-notch research related to fiscal policy, energy economics, regional economics, transportation, and other important topics.
On the first evening of the meetings, the MVEA holds a “State of the Economy” roundtable discussion where invited speakers give their take on the economy and future policy suggestions. Typically, as you might guess, these speakers present their case that the federal government and Federal Reserve saved us during the Great Recession and more activist policies are necessary to further stimulate the economy. Though there are free market-leaning economists in the Association, very few speakers during the roundtable discussion make that case.
This time, however, I was invited to speak and made the case that fiscal and monetary policies at the federal level contributed to the boom and bust of the U.S. economy and have weakened it during the recovery. Instead of continuing down this failed path, D.C. should look to the states for approaches that work best. Based on the Foundation’s recent research, the Texas model best supports job creation, less poverty, and a more equal income distribution that policymakers in D.C. and elsewhere would be wise to consider. You can view my presentation below and read a summary of it in my recent Morning Consult commentary.
The point of these presentations are to be thought-provoking, which too many economists fail to want to think outside of the box. As expected, there was pushback, as another speaker argued less government intervention would have led to another Great Depression and an audience member claimed my presentation was politically-driven because I discussed economic freedom. But really this is likely more about my presentation not agreeing with their bias for more government than anything else. Though we as economists like to consider ourselves as scientists without bias, we must be cognizant that we are social scientists who are biased by our worldviews and greatly limited to what we can design.
Overall, I appreciated and enjoyed the opportunity to present and help spread the message that free markets work best to provide economic prosperity for all to a room of influential economists. I considered myself someone like Daniel in the lion’s den; fortunately, like Daniel, I made it out alive. Let the battle of ideas continue!