The Economics Department welcomes James Heintz as the new Chair

The Economics Department is thrilled to welcome the new Chair, James Heintz, Andrew Glyn Professor of Economics and Director, Economics and Human Rights Program at PERI. The Department is fortunate to have a leader who embodies its heterodox tradition, with a deep commitment to seeing UMass Economics lead the discipline to novel ways of thinking about old economic issues and to recognition and innovative analysis of new and pressing economic problems. Thought leadership and socially engaged economics are needed now more than ever as the country and the global community confront the challenges of inequality, exclusion, racial injustice, climate change, exacerbated by the impact of the health pandemic.
James Heintz holds a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts. He is an internationally recognized leader on research on economic policy issues, including job creation, global labor standards, the distributive consequences of macroeconomic policies, and human rights. His policy work has focused on the U.S. as well as developing countries, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, including Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, the Gambia, Madagascar, and South Africa.

Partisan Shocks and Financial Markets: Evidence from Close National Elections

In an article published on "American Economic Journal: Applied Economics", Daniele Girardi (economics) documents the politics of financial investment. Using data from national elections worldwide, he finds that left-wing electoral victories cause downturns in financial markets. On average, a left victory is associated with a drop by more than 10 percentage points in stock market values. This reaction reflects the expectation of policies that decrease post-tax profits for listed firms, relative to what would have happened under conservative governments. This study is part of a research program that seeks to understand the way markets interact with politics in capitalist democracies, and the constraints they might impose on elected governments.


To Resist the Pandemic, A Vaccine Is Needed, and So Are Taxes

Africa once thought it had escaped the worst. But the coronavirus pandemic seems to have caught up with the continent, although the number of deaths remains very limited, in comparison to other regions. Hypotheses abound on the reasons for this resilience, and on its sustainability, but one thing is certain: On the economic front, Africa is already a victim of the pandemic. One of the positive aspects of this appalling pandemic is that it has reminded everyone that public services are precious. Everywhere, we have seen doctors fighting to save lives and teachers competing creatively to keep in touch with their students. Women’s workloads have increased even more… More than ever, it is urgent to provide states with enough resources to rebuild more resilient and equitable societies.

Could the US and Chinese economies really 'decouple'?

Talk of a new cold war is everywhere. Yet the economic context of the confrontation between the US and China is fundamentally different from the days of the iron curtain. The US and the Soviet Union had created competing globalisations, dividing the world into separate economic blocs. The two sides of the present divide are tied together as one “Chimerica” – with China as the global “workshop” and the US as the tech “headquarters” of the world. The old hope that this economic interdependence would prevent political conflict has been shattered. Instead, deep economic integration has increased the stakes: the core of the world economy could fall apart.

Statement on Racist Violence and Social Exclusion

Black Lives Matter. We declare and affirm this truth in the face of any verbal or material attempt to deny it. The current tragedies and structures of violence, exclusion and exploitation of Black people were made by human actors.  They date back to colonial times and slavery but persist to today. Teaching and research in the economics profession have often served to legitimize such structures portraying them as the outcome of the free and fair play of the market. The UMass Economics Department has a long tradition of research dedicated to uncovering structures of oppression, exploitation, exclusion and violence. This tradition must be rethought and adapted to place racial injustice at the center, as a dimension that should not be overlooked.

Continue reading the full statement

UMass Economics in the News

Robert Pollin, Distinguished Professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), comments on a $1 trillion infrastructure plan with a focus on sustainability proposed by presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Pollin says Buttigieg’s plan is “going in the right direction,” but “a lot hinges on where you come up with the money.” He says Sen. Elizabeth Warren “does a much more serious job of going underneath the surface than he does.” (South Bend Tribune, 1/14/20)

A news story about calls by the mayors of London and New York for cities to divest their pension funds from fossil fuel producers notes that a 2018 report co-authored by Robert Pollin, Distinguished Professor in economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, says the divestment movement has not substantially impacted fossil fuel share prices or reduced carbon emissions. (Reuters, 1/8/20)