NEW HAVEN, CT — On Monday, April 3, 2023, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen spent her day at Yale's Tobin Center for Economic Policy to discuss one of the driving themes of the federal administration's economic agenda: modern supply side economics.
Meeting with Tobin Center leaders, senior public officials, economics faculty, and capping the day with a Fireside Chat with Yale President Peter Salovey, the Secretary detailed her concept and engaged in rich conversations about its application to research, policymaking, and the Tobin Center’s institutional strategy.
During the Fireside Chat, Secretary Yellen emphasized the aim of modern supply side economics: “to find strategies that will promote growth while mitigating inequality, and also address environmental damage and harms that can affect the well-being of future generations…another focus is to improve the economic resilience of an economy, so that it’s better able to adapt to [and] survive shocks.”
The White House announced Secretary Yellen’s visit as part of the Administration’s “Investing in America” tour that is putting a spotlight on the historic federal investments in clean energy, infrastructure, supply chains, manufacturing, and the creation of good-paying jobs across the country.
She and President Salovey discussed modern supply side economics in the context of the Tobin Center’s leading research and policy accomplishments in the area, on issues from childcare and workforce support to electric vehicles and evidence-based policy. The Secretary also praised Tobin Center’s data-driven approach to implement modern supply side solutions:
I feel very strongly… that economics should be about something, and that it should make a difference to the well-being of our nation and the world, and that research directed at important policy questions can be critically important and make a huge difference, and that it should be data driven and nonpartisan.
And I think these are really the values that the Tobin Center stands for. And the Center has been doing important research, and I think national and international policy will benefit from that kind of data-driven approach that is really focused on real problems.
Marking the occasion of the Secretary’s visit and its topic, the Tobin Center announced a series of new partnerships and initiatives that connect to the core themes of modern supply side economics - including commitments advancing sustainable growth, support for working families, enhanced government capacity, and resilient supply chains.
To kick off the day, Secretary Yellen met with leaders from the Tobin Center to discuss its research and policy achievements connected to modern supply side priorities. Tobin leadership discussed how the center actively contributes to national and state modern supply side issues. “We’re excited to use our experience to develop new frameworks for how this ‘modern supply’ lens might inform the future of policymaking and economic research,” said Tobin Faculty Director Steve Berry.
The Tobin team shared what it means for an academic enterprise to take on the concept as a matter of study, and how it might influence definitions of success in governance—Both for recently funded modern supply side priorities (e.g. infrastructure, climate), as well as for issues that fit the modern supply agenda but lack major new funding (e.g., labor-expanding human capital programs). These efforts, they suggest, will all similarly benefit from using data and evidence to make government more efficient, and streamlining (‘unblocking’) services that can be disconnected and hard to navigate.
The Secretary then met with Congresswoman Rosa Delauro and Connecticut state government leaders – including Governor Lamont’s Chief of Staff Jonathan Dach, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes, and Office of Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye. Tobin’s Berry and Executive Director David Wilkinson joined the discussion. “Both Congress and states have important and differing roles in the design and application of economic policy,” said Wilkinson. “We are interested in the distinctive ways a modern supply lens might be applied by different branches and levels of government.”
“It was an honor to meet with Secretary Yellen at Yale’s Tobin Center to discuss the economic security of the United States,” said DeLauro. “She is on the frontline of so many challenges facing our nation – ensuring the United States economy grows stronger while rebuilding the middle class. I look forward to our continued work together to meet these challenges head on, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to meet with her here in New Haven.”
It was an honor to meet with @SecYellen at the @YaleTobinCenter to discuss the economic security of the United States. She is on the frontline of so many challenges facing our nation and families.— Rosa DeLauro (@rosadelauro) April 4, 2023
I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet with her here in New Haven, CT! pic.twitter.com/uzlIZLAvNI
The visit coincided with an important milestone for the Tobin Center, as it wraps up its inaugural phase and moves into its new building, finally uniting all economics faculty and research centers in one place.
I’m very happy to be here to celebrate the opening of the Tobin Center, and to see the Center have a wonderful new building that really integrates the economics department as well – so that’s a thrill. - Secretary Yellen
During the day, the Secretary also connected with economics graduate students, Tobin Center-supported predoctoral fellows, the Women in Economics student group, and members of Yale’s Planetary Solutions Project, including Provost Scott Strobel.
At lunch, Secretary Yellen engaged with Yale economics faculty to discuss modern supply side economics as it applies to a range of issues. Tony Smith, Chair of the Department of Economics, said the following: “We were thrilled to welcome Secretary Yellen back to campus and to our new Economics building, where we now display her portrait as one of the Department's most influential graduates, and one of the very first women to receive a Ph.D. in Economics at Yale. It was a delight to engage with the Secretary during lunch with our faculty, where we discussed how faculty can help contribute to the goals of modern supply side economics.”
As the capstone to the day, Yellen sat down with President Peter Salovey for a “fireside chat” attended by over 500 members of the Yale community, and live streamed by the Department of the Treasury. The discussion — available as a special episode of the president’s Yale Talk podcast — covered her time at Yale, her mentor James Tobin, how the work of the Tobin Center is carrying out his legacy, diversity in economics, and driving themes of the federal administration's economic agenda, with a particular emphasis on modern supply side economics.
When asked about what compelled her to join the Tobin Center, Secretary Yellen responded with enthusiasm about her time at Yale and the Tobin Center’s research and policy mission: “the philosophy of the Tobin Center is [policymakers] bring, to the decisions that they make, a data-driven approach – that’s nonpartisan. And seeking to make the world a better place is an extremely useful and valuable perspective – in all of the decisions we make about economic matters. But you know research is very important. It plays a critical role in informing policy. So, the work of centers like the Tobin Center…is critically important at the end of the day to good policy.”
What always impressed me about my mentor James Tobin was not only his knowledge of macroeconomics, but his commitment to the view that economics is about making the world a better place. My thanks to the @Yale Tobin Center for today’s important discussion on economic potential. pic.twitter.com/aEx1hpZ2gw— Secretary Janet Yellen (@SecYellen) April 3, 2023
Building on the momentum of this day, the Tobin Center is excited to move forward with its new initiatives and partnerships supporting the core themes of modern supply side economics. To carry out this important new work, we are partnering with the State of Connecticut, New Haven Public Schools, the City of New Haven, University of Nebraska’s Buffett Early Childhood Institute, and Georgetown University’s Massive Data Institute, McCourt School of Public Policy, and Beeck Center.