Past Event

Preparing for the Next Recession: Policies to Reduce the Impact on the U.S. Economy

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Identifying the most effective policy responses to mitigate the damaging effects of a recession can pose significant challenges for policymakers, who are often operating under intense time constraints and political pressure at the onset of an economic downturn. Historically, the U.S. has responded to recent recessions with a mix of monetary policy action and discretionary fiscal stimulus. However, since monetary policy options may be limited during the next recession, policymakers should consider adopting a range of fiscal policy measures now to help stabilize the economy when a future downturn inevitably occurs. This can be achieved with a range of fiscal policy responses aimed at expediting the next recovery through strengthening job creation and restoring confidence to businesses and households.   On May 16, The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth co-convened a forum to explore policy options to reduce the impact of the next recession. The forum began with opening remarks by Robert E. Rubin, former U.S. Treasury Secretary, followed by a fireside chat between Ben S. Bernanke, Distinguished Fellow in Residence, Economic Studies, the Brookings Institution and former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Christina Romer, Garff B. Wilson Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley and former Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. The fireside chat was moderated by Sam Fleming, U.S. economics editor and Washington deputy bureau chief, The Financial Times.    The event also included three roundtable discussions that explored expediting funding to states; providing direct payments to households; and strengthening the social safety net. Roundtable panelists included Jason Furman, professor of the practice of economic policy, Harvard Kennedy School; Robert Greenstein, president, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Jeanne M. Lambrew, commissioner, Department of Health and Human Services, State of Maine; Shoshana M. Lew, executive director, Colorado Department of Transportation; Karen Dynan, professor of the practice of economics, Harvard Kennedy School; and Lourdes Padilla, secretary, Department of Human Services, State of Maryland, among other distinguished experts and scholars.    The event coincided with the release of a new book from The Hamilton Project and Washington Center for Equitable Growth titled, “Recession Ready: Fiscal Policies to Stabilize the American Economy,” which offers detailed policy proposals for making current programs—including unemployment insurance, nutrition assistance, basic temporary assistance, employment subsidies, tax policy, intergovernmental grants, and infrastructure spending—more effective as automatic stabilizers.


12:30 PM Registration Opens

1:00 PM Opening Remarks

Robert E. Rubin
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary
Co-Chair Emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations

1:10 PM Fireside Chat: A Conversation with Ben Bernanke and Christina Romer

Ben S. Bernanke
Distinguished Fellow in Residence, Economic Studies, The Brookings Institution

Christina Romer 
Garff B. Wilson Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley

Moderator: Sam Fleming 
US Economics Editor, Washington Deputy Bureau Chief, The Financial Times

2:00 PM Roundtable Discussion: Policy Options to Expedite Funding to States

Jason Furman
Professor of the Practice of Economic Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Andrew Haughwout 
Senior Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Jeanne M. Lambrew
Commissioner, Department of Health and Human Services,  State of Maine

Shoshana M. Lew 
Executive Director, Colorado Department of Transportation

Moderator: Jay Shambaugh
Director, The Hamilton Project
Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

2:55 PM Break

3:05 PM Roundtable Discussion: Providing Direct Payments to Households as Fiscal Stimulus

Claudia Sahm
Chief, Consumer and Community Development Research Section, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Moderator: Karen Dynan
Professor of the Practice of Economics, Harvard Kennedy School

3:30 p.m. Roundtable Discussion: Strengthening the Safety Net to Reduce the Effects of Future Recessions

Robert Greenstein
President, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Lourdes Padilla
Secretary, Department of Human Services, State of Maryland

Gabriel Chodorow-Reich
Assistant Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach
Margaret Walker Alexander Professor of Human Development and Social Policy; Director, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University
Nonresident Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

Moderator: Heather Boushey
Executive Director and Chief Economist, Washington Center for Equitable Growth

4:30 PM Forum Adjourns

Event Forum

The Rockefeller-Peterson Room
1777 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006, USA


Follow @hamiltonproj and see the conversation using #RecessionReady

Available Downloads

Description of Paperspdf


Events Inquiries

Melanie Gilarsky
Phone: (202) 540-7780
[email protected]

Media Inquiries

Marie Wilken
Phone: (202) 540-7738
[email protected]