Michael Spence

Senior Fellow
Awards and Honors:
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Econometric Society (elected fellow)
Biography: 

Michael Spence is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a professor of economics at the Stern School at New York University, and the Philip H. Knight Professor Emeritus of Management in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.

Spence’s latest publication is The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World (2011).

He served as the chairman of the independent Commission on Growth and Development (2006–10).

He was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001 and the John Bates Clark Medal from the American Economic Association in 1981. He was awarded the David A. Wells Prize for the outstanding doctoral dissertation at Harvard University and the John Kenneth Galbraith Prize for excellence in teaching.

He served as the Philip H. Knight Professor and dean of the Stanford Business School (1990–99). As dean, he oversaw the finances, organization, and educational policies of the school. He taught at Stanford as an associate professor of economics from 1973 to 1975.

He served as a professor of economics and business administration at Harvard University (1975–90). In 1983, he was named chairman of the Economics Department and the George Gund Professor of Economics and Business Administration. Spence also served as the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard (1984–90), overseeing Harvard College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Division of Continuing Education.

From 1977 to 1979, he was a member of the Economics Advisory Panel of the National Science Foundation and in 1979 served as a member of the Sloan Foundation Economics Advisory Committee. He has served as a member of the editorial boards of the American Economics Review, Bell Journal of Economics, and Journal of Economic Theory.

Spence is a member of the boards of directors for General Mills and a number of private companies. He was chairman of the National Research Council Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy (1991–97).

He is a member of the American Economic Association and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society.

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Analysis and Commentary

Should We Be Worried About Productivity Trends?

by Sandile Hlatshwayo, Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Thursday, June 29, 2017

Economists concern themselves not only with addressing difficult questions thoughtfully, but also with formulating the questions themselves. Sometimes, rethinking those questions can hold the key to finding the answers we need.

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How To Be An Open Economy

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Monday, May 22, 2017

The word “openness” has two related but distinct connotations. It can mean that something is unrestricted, accessible, and possibly vulnerable; or it can mean that something, such as a person or institution, is transparent, as opposed to secretive.

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Reprieve Or Reform In Europe?

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Saturday, April 29, 2017

The first round of the French election turned out much as expected: the centrist Emmanuel Macron finished first, with 24% of the vote, rather narrowly beating the right-wing National Front’s Marine Le Pen, who won 21.3%. Barring a political accident of the type that befell the former frontrunner, conservative François Fillon, Macron will almost certainly win the second-round runoff against Le Pen on May 7. The European Union seems safe – for now.

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Delivering On Promises To The Middle Class

by Michael Spence, David Bradyvia Project Syndicate
Sunday, April 2, 2017

US President Donald Trump owes his electoral victory largely to the older white middle- and working-class voters who have missed out on many of the benefits of the economic-growth patterns of the last three decades. Yet his administration is preparing to pursue an economic program that, while positive in some respects, will not deliver the reversal of economic fortune his key constituency was promised.

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Europe Or Anti-Europe?

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A knowledgeable friend in Milan recently asked me the following question: “If an outside investor, say, from the United States, wanted to invest a substantial sum in the Italian economy, what would you advise?” I replied that, although there are many opportunities to invest in companies and sectors, the overall investment environment is complicated. I would recommend investing alongside a knowledgeable domestic partner, who can navigate the system, and spot partly hidden risks.

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Globalism and Its Discontents

by Michael Spencevia Hoover Digest
Friday, January 27, 2017

Pushing aside multilateral trade—with all its promise—for multiple variations of “America first.” Is this what the world needs now? 

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Four Certainties About Populist Economics

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Successful economic globalization requires reasonably successful growth patterns in individual countries. That dynamic characterized the 30 years or so after World War II: growth rates were relatively high across a wide range of countries; their benefits were broadly shared within countries; and the rise of developing countries reduced global inequality. 

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A Growth Agenda For China

by Michael Spence, Qian Wanvia Project Syndicate
Monday, December 26, 2016

At a time when the United States is poised to turn inward, China’s economic performance is more important globally than ever. Whether China can achieve sustainable growth patterns in the coming years will depend upon a number of key factors.

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Donald Trump And The New Economic Order

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Since the end of World War II, the hierarchy of economic priorities has been relatively clear. At the top was creating an open, innovative, and dynamic market-driven global economy, in which all countries can (in principal) thrive and grow. Coming in second – one might even say a distant second – was generating vigorous, sustainable, and inclusive national growth patterns. No more.

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How Inequality Found A Political Voice

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Friday, October 28, 2016

It took a long time for widening inequality to have an impact on politics, as it suddenly has done in recent years. Now that it is a central issue, national economic priorities will need to shift substantially to create more equitable, inclusive economies and societies.

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