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Center on Budget and Policy Priorities — Full Employment Project (2016)

Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (right) describes his new book, The Reconnection Agenda, at a March 30, 2015 event hosted by the Center’s Full Employment Project. (Photo courtesy of CBPP)
Award Date 
Grant Amount 
To support the Full Employment Project
Topic (focus area) 

Published: October 2016

CBPP staff reviewed this page prior to publication.

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $425,000 to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) to support the Full Employment Project.

This grant is a renewal of our 2014 grant to CBPP, and falls within our work on macroeconomic stabilization policy. It is also one in a series of grants attempting to build up the capacity of progressive think tanks on macroeconomic policy issues we see as important.

We would characterize the work that these grants will support as falling into two main areas:

  • Preparing for the next U.S. recession, which we would guess is likely to occur before interest rates return to “normal” levels.1 This could include exploring:
    • Monetary policy tools that the Federal Reserve (“the Fed”) could use if it were to return to the zero lower bound on nominal short term interest rates, such as quantitative easing or a change to the inflation target
    • Proposals for automatic stabilizers that Congress could put in place to reduce the need for discretionary responses to the next recession
    • Proposals for novel fiscal stimulus measures in case a recession does strike
  • Making the case for the importance of continued focus on reducing unemployment and against premature monetary tightening today. We think it will eventually be appropriate to raise interest rates but that the Fed is more likely to raise prematurely than belatedly, and that doing so carries greater welfare costs, so we see value in supporting work that argues for a continued focus on unemployment.

This grant to CBPP will support its continued work on the Full Employment Project, which we wrote about in more detail on our page about our previous grant to CBPP. Our understanding is that our marginal funding will support CBPP to undertake a project commissioning outside macroeconomists to develop their own estimates of potential output of the U.S. economy, based on the possibility that the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate may be too low. This project is related to the second bullet above.

Our key uncertainty for this grant, along with our other grants to think tanks for work on macroeconomic policy, is whether work by think tanks on these issues is likely to sway decisionmakers at the Fed or in Congress. We would guess that the work we support is relatively unlikely to affect policy, but that if it did our support would be justified many times over, and we see that as a bet worth taking.


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Effective Federal Funds RateSource (archive)