For anyone looking, there are a growing number of unorthodox ideas on the horizon — from mainstream, highly credentialed economists.
Federal Reserve economist Claudia Sahm has proposed automatic government payments directly to individuals when the 3-month average unemployment rate rises 0.50 percentage points above the low from the previous year.
- She picked that metric because every time it has happened since the 1970s the economy has gone into contraction. The indicator currently shows a reading of 0%, suggesting the economy looks stable.
Romer told Axios she supports similar plans that include so-called automatic stabilizers, or government spending, that activates based on data rather than legislators needing to authorize new spending.
- "Building more of that into the system would be healthy," she said.
Catherine Mann, a former chief economist at the OECD and current global chief economist at Citi Research, has proposed a program that would use central bank funds to deposit shopping vouchers directly into consumers' accounts.
- She says many new proposals ignore the realities of declining aggregate demand, income distribution and lower productivity.
- "I think we’re having the wrong discussion," she told Axios at the NABE conference.
Julia Coronado, a former Federal Reserve economist and current president of MacroPolicy Perspectives, said she's working on a paper that will advocate combining helicopter money with a central bank digital currency.
- "We’re not on the edge," she said during an interview at NABE. "We’re chief economists at major global banks, for God’s sake. We’re hardly fringe players."