College alum Romer talks economics

“The question I get a lot lately is, ‘Are you enjoying your job?’” Christina Romer ’81 said. “And my answer usually is, I’m sure in retrospect I will. I’m so tired, and it’s so hard, I’m not quite so sure. The same is true of William and Mary. It was hard … [but] in retrospect it was the best four years of my life.”

The College of William and Mary’s Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy hosted a talk Thursday on United States economic policy delivered by Romer, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisors and an economic aide to President Barack Obama. Romer graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the College with a degree in economics.

Romer went on to earn a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Economics professor Robert Archibald introduced his former student.

Archibald taught Romer during a 1979 summer-school session just after Romer decided to major in economics.

“I think that was the single most intellectually stimulating summer,” Romer said.

Romer began her talk by describing what has gone wrong with the American economy, pointing out the “incredible” drop in both housing and stock prices.

“Gyrations of stock prices caused a lot of uncertainty,” Romer said. “I found a lot of evidence that those gyrations caused a lot of uncertainty in consumers and firms … I think that may have a big impact on what we are seeing now.”

These drops in prices, perpetuated by uncertainty, led to a drying up of credit and the failure of several major financial institutions.

“Credit really is the lifeblood of a modern economy,” Romer said.
During the second part of her talk, Romer described what the American government was doing to fix the current economic situation.

“President Obama actually addressed this topic yesterday,” Romer said. “The president may have had a sense that we have done so many things that the American people may not have understood how it all fits together.”

Part of Romer’s talk was highlighted by a detailed description of the four components of the government’s economic plan. Romer focused mainly on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“The stimulus package is the biggest and boldest anti-cyclical act in American history” she said. “It’s only a piece of the overall battle plan. It’s better to not put all of your eggs in one basket.”


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