MiB: Claudia Sahm, CEA & Federal Reserve Economist
This week, we speak with Claudia Sahm, former Section Chief at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and Senior Economist at the Council of Economic Advisers for the Obama Administration. Sahm is best known as the creator of the Sahm Rule, a real-time indicator of recessions.
The Sahm Rule is an early way to identify the start of a recession. It generates a signal when the 3-month moving average of the national unemployment rate (U3) rises by 0.50 percentage points (or more) relative to its low during the previous 12 months. She developed the rule by spending weekends playing with spreadsheets to find the most accurate combination of indicators that were timely but did not generate false signals.
She is an expert on the impact of fiscal stimulus, and advocates for automatic stabilizers for when recessions begin. Sahm also discusses economics research replication problem, raising issues about the quality of research. She believes the field needs to broaden out what it considers valid research topics, including issues of poverty, race and gender issues.
Her blog post, “Economics is a Disgrace” ignited a firestorm about problems in the profession, specifically, a “lack of diversity and inclusion degrades our knowledge and policy advice. We hurt economists from undergraduate classrooms to offices at the White House. We drive away talent; we mistreat those who stay; and we tolerate bad behavior.”
She spends most of her time reading economic journals and Econ-Twitter; A transcript of our conversation is available here Monday.