Research and Policy Director
Areas of expertise
Macroeconomics • Globalization • Social insurance • Public investment
Josh Bivens is the Research and Policy Director at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). His areas of research include macroeconomics, fiscal and monetary policy, the economics of globalization, social insurance, and public investment. He frequently appears as an economics expert on news shows, including the Public Broadcasting Service’s “NewsHour,” the “Melissa Harris-Perry” show on MSNBC, WAMU’s “The Diane Rehm Show,” American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” and programs of the BBC.
As a leading policy analyst, Bivens regularly testifies before the U.S. Congress on fiscal and monetary policy, the economic impact of regulations, and other issues. He has also provided analyses for the annual meeting of Project LINK of the United Nations and the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Bivens is the author of Failure by Design: The Story behind America’s Broken Economy (EPI and Cornell University Press) and Everybody Wins Except for Most of Us: What Economics Really Teaches About Globalization (EPI). He is the co-author of The State of Working America, 12th Edition (EPI and Cornell University Press) and a co-editor of Good Jobs, Bad Jobs, No Jobs: Labor Markets and Informal Work in Egypt, El Salvador, India, Russia and South Africa (EPI).
His academic articles have appeared in the International Review of Applied Economics, the Journal of Economic Issues and the Journal of Economic Perspectives. Bivens has also provided peer-reviewed articles to several edited collections, including The Handbook of the Political Economy of Financial Crises (Oxford University Press), Public Economics in the United States: How the Federal Government Analyzes and Influences the Economy (ABC-CLIO), and Restoring Shared Prosperity: A Policy Agenda from Leading Keynesian Economists (AFL-CIO and the Macroeconomic Policy Institute).
Prior to becoming Research and Policy Director, Bivens was a research economist at EPI. Before coming to EPI, he was an assistant professor of economics at Roosevelt University and provided consulting services to Oxfam America. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the New School for Social Research and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland at College Park.
Ph.D., Economics, New School for Social Research
B.A., Economics, University of Maryland at College Park
Search publications by Josh Bivens
Last week I argued that the Trump-brokered deal with Carrier industries to keep 700 jobs in Indiana shouldn’t be treated as a triumph, but instead as a sellout of those unlucky workers who hadn’t managed to make themselves useful as PR props for Trump.
A policy effort to boost public investment should include both “core” infrastructure investments such as building roads and "noncore" public investments, such as improving early child care. Both provide high rates of return. Public finance is the most accountable way of financing infrastructure. Tax credits dangled to entice private financiers and developers provide no compelling efficiency gains and open up possibilities for corruption and crony capitalism.
Donald Trump is getting lots of mileage out of the alleged deal that has been struck to keep a Carrier plant from moving to Mexico from Indiana.
Across a broad range of crucial issues, the incoming Trump administration appears likely to betray the promises he made to the American middle class. Here’s a rough sketch of how.
President-elect Donald Trump has indicated that one of his first priorities will be a plan to boost infrastructure investment. Normally, this would be welcome news for those of us who have been arguing for years that increased public investment should be a top-tier economic priority. The still-sketchy details of Trump’s plan, however, are a cause for concern.
Progressive revenue increases would provide long-run financing for projected deficits but impose only minimal short-run fiscal drag. All other deficit-reduction measures would do clear economic damage if imposed in the short run.
The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will debate again this week whether or not they should raise interest rates to slow the economic recovery in an effort to forestall potential inflation.
October 28, 2016 | By Josh Bivens
| Economic Indicators
Data released by Bureau of Economic Analysis today showed that gross domestic product (GDP)—the widest measure of economic activity—grew at a 2.9 percent (annualized) rate in the third quarter of 2016.
The national recovery since the end of the Great Recession has been needlessly held back by spending cuts at all levels of government.
There’s obviously plenty to criticize regarding Donald Trump’s claims and characterizations about the problems facing the U.S. economy during last night’s debate.
This week the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet to decide whether or not to raise interest rates. By now this is a familiar debate.
Josh Bivens talked about his recent Economic Policy Institute report on U.S. economic recovery. He asserted that Republican policymakers are to blame for what he said is one of the slowest economic recoveries in recent history.
There’s no reason today to think we can’t replicate the outcome of the 1990s tight labor markets, we just need to make sure these tight labor markets rest on a solid foundation.
We are enduring one of the slowest economic recoveries in recent history, and the pace can be entirely explained by the fiscal austerity imposed by Republican members of Congress and also legislators and governors at the state level.
A well-designed financial transaction tax—a small levy placed on the sale of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other investments—would be an efficient and progressive way to generate tax revenues.
The annual Social Security and Medicare trustees’ reports will be released today, prompting the usual scaremongering enabled by a widespread misunderstanding of how these programs operate and what deficits mean. As is always the case, it is helpful to separate out analyses of Social Security from Medicare, as they are different institutions facing very different challenges.
Globalization and secular stagnation make a sustained, coordinated fiscal expansion necessary for restoring growth to the global economy. Current politics in both the Unites States and Europe make this impossible in the short run. This means it’s likely to be a long time before we have a decent global economy, and that’s a real problem.
James Sherk at the Heritage Foundation has written a piece claiming that there has been no gap between growth in productivity and growth in pay. It’s written largely as an attempted debunking of our work, but since there’s not actually any bunk in this work, the attempt fails.
Today’s decision by the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates unchanged was the right one. There is no sign in the economic data that a durable acceleration in inflationary pressures is brewing and needs to be stopped by the Fed beginning to slow the economy.
Since the late 1970s, American economic growth has been slow and unequal relative to the period after World War II. This suggests that there was very little payoff to overall growth from rising inequality, and that there will be no growth penalty from strong efforts to check or reverse inequality. In fact, far from being in direct conflict, faster overall growth and progressive redistribution are likely complementary. What is even clearer is that an agenda that explicitly confronts rising inequality will unambiguously raise living standards growth for the bottom 90 percent. Actually, such an agenda is necessary for securing decent living standards growth for these households.
Some policy makers and observers have urged raising interest rates in June. Proponents argue that some inflation measures show faster growth than the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure and that a potential bubble in the commercial real estate market justifies a rate increase. Ultimately, both arguments hinge on thinking that too-slow growth in real estate construction should be solved by raising rates. Here’s why that is not convincing.
Salaried workers not eligible for overtime often do not receive “current wages” for hours worked in excess of 40. Instead they often earn nothing. That is, a worker was paid a salary based on a 40-hour work week, but was then forced by employers to put in 45 or 50 or 55 hours of actual work with no additional compensation. If such a worker has the hours they’re forced to work cut from 45 to 40 but keeps the same weekly pay, then it is really silly to label this an increase in “underemployment,” and no economist worth their salt would do this.
Federal budget season came and went this year without any budget proposal hitting the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Weak data had convinced many that the Federal Reserve was unlikely to raise interest rates in June, but in recent days multiple Fed policymakers have suggested that an increase should be on the table in the near future. What’s unclear is why.
Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum seems to dislike a New York Times article calling job prospects for young high school graduates “grim.” Along the way, he directs an odd bit of unprovoked snark at us:
I don’t know how EPI measures unemployment, but the federal government measures it in a consistent way every single month.
Raising interest rates is a poor strategy for managing asset bubbles. Low interest rates did not cause the housing bubble of the early 2000s and higher interest rates would have been ineffective at preventing it. To deflate an asset bubble interest rates would have to be raised to levels that would cause enormous damage to the labor market. Fortunately, the Federal Reserve has numerous tools besides rate increases that would be more effective and inflict less collateral damage on the nonfinancial side of the economy.
Neil Irwin wrote a piece on productivity growth in the New York Times that’s making the rounds. It’s a good piece, definitely worth reading.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported this morning that gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic activity, grew at just a 0.5 percent annualized rate in the first quarter of 2016.
It's been pointed out to me that yesterday’s blog post about a story by NPR’s Chris Arnold targeted too much ire at Arnold himself rather than the phenomenon he was reporting about. I think that’s probably right, and so I apologize to him for that. I was using Arnold’s story as a jumping off point for a discussion of a larger issue, and should have made that more clear. I do think my larger points about the substance of the topic under debate hold.
Trade agreements in recent decades have not been simple good-faith exercises in trade liberalization. Instead, they have exposed some American workers to fierce international competition while locking in rules that expanded protections for others.