Kevin Hassett is an economist who has returned to the Trump administration. Before, he was the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Now, he is the Senior Advisor to the President. Very recently, Hassett called U.S. workers “human capital stock,” which has caused a fair amount of outrage.
1. Born and Raised in Greenfield, MA
Hassett was both born and raised in Greenfield, MA. In short, said region was settled by the Pocumtuc. There are some sources that claim that the Pocumtuc were wiped out by the Mohawks in the 1660s, but this contradicts other sources that claim that the Pocumtuc were allied with the Wampanoag chief Metacom against English encroachment in the 1670s. Eventually, the Pocumtuck participated in the Battle of Turner’s Falls, with the result that some elements managed to flee to the Abenaki to the north as well as the Mohicans to the west. By 1686, the region had been colonized by the English, though it wasn’t until 1753 that it was incorporated as a separate town from Deerfield, MA.
2. Studied Economics
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hassett studied economics through his post-secondary education. Initially, he went for his BA at Swarthmore College, which can be found in Swarthmore, PA. Historically speaking, the school was affiliated with the Quakers but it has long since become non-sectarian in nature. Later, Hassett went for a MA as well as a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Pennsylvania where he was under Alan J. Auerbach.
3. Spent Some Time as a Professor
Hassett has spent some time as a professor of economics at Columbia Business School. From 1989 to 1993, he was an assistant professor, which is below an associate professor; from 1993 to 1997, he was an associate professor, which is below a full professor. Having said that, both positions tend to be very competitive. Something that is particularly true for Columbus University as well as other well-known schools.
Economics isn’t exactly a perfect science. As a result, it isn’t uncommon for economists to make significant errors when they make economic predictions. However, some errors can be much more spectacular than others. For instance, Hassett was the co-author of a book called Dow 36,000, which argued that stocks were so undervalued that the Dow Jones average would hit 36,000 within a matter of mere years. This claim was more than a bit embarrassing because the book came out a short while before the bursting of the Dot-com bubble, which had been caused by too much speculation involving Internet-related companies.
5. Paid Up on His Bet
To his credit, Hassett paid up on a bet related to Dow 36,000. In short, both Hassett and his co-author bet one of their critics that if the Dow Jones average was closer to 10,000 than 36,000 by the end of 2009, they would each donate $1,000 to the Salvation Army. When the time came, the Dow Jones average was 10,428, with the result that both individuals followed through with their promise.
6. Relatively Mainstream Conservative Economist
Amusingly, there was a fair amount of relief from liberal circles when Hassett was announced as the Trump administration’s choice for the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Certainly, he is a conservative economist. However, he is a relatively mainstream conservative economist who has been influential in shaping Republican economic policies for about two decades by that point. As such, it was thought that Hassett would lend the Trump administration a much-needed touch of seriousness to counter-balance its more unorthodox voices when it came to economic matters.
7. Supports Direct Hiring of People By the Government
Having said that, Hassett has some unorthodox opinions of his own by the standards of conservative economics. For instance, he is a supporter of the direct hiring of the long-term unemployed by the government, which isn’t exactly a popular notion with his fellows to say the least. As Hassett sees it, this is because direct hiring is both the sensible and the compassionate solution to a problem that isn’t much affected by more common measures. One, it is sensible because it costs much less in the long run than having someone remain as a member of the long-term unemployed. Two, it is compassionate because being employed has a huge effect on a person’s sense of self-worth as well as other elements of well-being.
8. Supports Immigration
Speaking of which, Hassett is similar to most economists in that he supports immigration. Essentially, immigration can provide countries with a number of important economic benefits, with examples ranging from skilled labor to a higher rate of entrepreneurship compared to their non-immigrant counterparts. On top of this, it should be mentioned that developed countries tend to have sub-replacement fertility, meaning that they need an additional source of labor to keep their economies healthy. Something that is particularly true now that more and more Baby Boomers are entering retirement.
9. Created a COVID-19 Model
Recently, Hassett drew widespread scorn because he created a COVID-19 model predicting that the number of COVID-19 deaths would drop to zero by May 15. Unsurprisingly, that prediction has turned out to be very, very wrong. Some people have been wondering why anyone would trust a model created using outdated principles by someone who has never done modeling for infectious diseases. However, there are plenty of other people who believe that the model was created as a cynical tool to support the Trump administration’s determination to reopen sooner rather than later.
10. His Latest Prediction Concerns Unemployment Rates
In any case, while Hassett has drawn further scorn in recent times because of him calling workers “human capital stock,” he has made other economic comments as well. In particular, he has predicted that unemployment will start working its way down from the double-digits in June with the potential to hit full employment sometime in either September or October. However, this is a more optimistic scenario because he thinks that it is still possible for unemployment rates to remain in the double-digits through November, with everything dependent on whether a vaccine will be made widely available sometime soon or not.