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UMass Amherst Economist Isabella Weber Speaks at NYT Groundbreakers Lunch, Responds to Musk’s Comments on X Advertisers

Isabella Weber, associate professor of economics, was among the panelists at the Groundbreakers Lunch, part of the The New York Times DealBook Summit on Nov. 29. 

Isabella Weber
Isabella Weber

Weber’s work has been profiled in The New Yorker and she was recently recognized as one of the TIME100 Next, “The MarketWatch 50,” and for a second time, the “Top 40 Under 40” by Capital, Germany’s most widely read business publication.

Her response to comments by billionaire Elon Musk, who used an expletive at the summit to address advertisers who were abandoning his social media platform, X, after he endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory, was included in a recap of the event.

Musk, who did apologize for the post, accused advertisers of trying to “blackmail” him.

“Here is someone who’s running a business but who is so rich that he doesn’t care about the financial dimension of it,” Weber said of Musk. “And this happens to be a business that is incredibly consequential for our democracy, for our public debate, for the formation of public opinion on all sorts of critical issues.”

“Musk is telling the world loud and clear: This is a business run for reasons other than money,” Weber later added on X.

Weber, who has become a leading voice on policy responses to inflation and has advised policymakers in the U.S. and Germany on issues of price stabilization, also responded to comments made by Vice President Kamala Harris at the summit, that many Americans feel prices are still too high, despite easing inflation.

Weber noted that Harris’s point that “people’s experience might be quite different from aggregate indicators that we construct from an enormous amount of data” was also “something that I have been trying to think about,” according to the recap. 

Weber is a research associate and research leader in China studies with the UMass Amherst Political Economy Research Institute and an associate in research at the Fairbank Center at Harvard University. Her first book, “How China Escaped Shock Therapy: The Market Reform Debate,” has received numerous accolades, including the Joan Cahalin Robinson Prize, the Keynes Prize and the International Studies Association’s Best Book in Interdisciplinary Studies award.