Lee Ohanian

Senior Fellow
Biography: 

Lee E. Ohanian is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor of economics and director of the Ettinger Family Program in Macroeconomic Research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

He is associate director of the Center for the Advanced Study in Economic Efficiency at Arizona State University and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he codirects the research initiative Macroeconomics across Time and Space. He is also a fellow in the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory.

His research focuses on economic crises, economic growth, and the impact of public policy on the economy. Ohanian is coeditor of Government Policies and Delayed Economic Recovery (Hoover Institution Press, 2012). He is an adviser to the Federal Reserve Banks of Minneapolis and St. Louis, has previously advised other Federal Reserve banks, foreign central banks, and the National Science Foundation, and has testified to national and state legislative committees on economic policy. He is on the editorial boards of Econometrica and Macroeconomic Dynamics. He is a frequent media commentator and writes for the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Investor’s Business Daily. He has won numerous teaching awards at UCLA and the University of Rochester.

He previously served on the faculties of the Universities of Minnesota and Pennsylvania and as vice president at Security Pacific Bank. He received his undergraduate degree in economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his PhD in economics from the University of Rochester.

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Recent Commentary

PoliticsFeatured

By Placing Profits Over Principles, The NBA Shows What It's Really Made Of

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Last week, Daryl Morey, the general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, tweeted “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong” in support of Hong Kong citizen protests against mainland China. These seemingly harmless seven words created a political firestorm within the world’s premier basketball league that shows that the NBA’s highly publicized and proud commitment to social justice, freedom, and equality is largely abandoned when such principles affect their bottom line.  

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Untangling Homelessness

by Lee Ohanianvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Throwing money at the problem while blocking development just worsens housing problems. What would help? Unleashing homebuilders and job-creating businesses, especially in the Central Valley and the hinterlands

PoliticsFeatured

The Intriguing Economics Of College Athletes Licensing Their Images

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Last week, California governor Gavin Newsom signed into law California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, which will allow California college athletes to sign commercial deals for the use of their identities and likenesses.  The law, which will also allow student athletes to hire agents to negotiate on their behalf, will take effect in 2023. This could be the law that upsets the NCAA’s long-standing cozy apple cart that has successfully funneled almost all collegiate athletic revenue to universities, and the economics of this law are fascinating.

The StateFeatured

Why Drug Addicts Outnumber High School Students In San Francisco

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, October 1, 2019

San Francisco is one the most productive cities in the world and is the headquarters for several remarkably innovative and creative businesses, including Twitter, Uber, Lyft, and Fitbit, among others. But drug abusers have taken over several of its most densely populated neighborhoods and much of its central business district.

Featured

Corporations Will Do Less For Society If They Are Mandated To Do More

by Lee Ohanianvia The Hill
Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin recently criticized 181 CEOs of leading corporations, including Apple, Amazon and Walmart, who signed a statement redefining the purpose of a corporation.

HousingFeatured

Statewide Rent Control Will Make California’s Housing Crisis Even Worse

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, September 24, 2019

One of Governor Gavin Newsom’s major campaign promises was to build 3.5 million new homes in California by 2025. But new building permits this year are 80% below Newsom’s annualized target and are even below last year’s extremely low level. California’s economic policies, which raise the cost of building and which can even block development, are the reason why California’s housing crisis is so severe.  

PoliticsFeatured

The Economic Blowback If California’s Independent Contractors Are Eliminated

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Last week, the California Senate passed a new bill that will cause somewhere between one million to two million workers, perhaps even more, to lose their status as independent contractors. If California governor Gavin Newsom signs the bill, an independent contractor will have to satisfy the following legally binding criteria:

1. Be free from the “control and direction” of their employer
2. Be performing work that is “outside the course” of the company’s usual business
3. Have their own independently established trade, occupation, or business

Featured

Lee Ohanian: Will Calling Uber And Lyft's Independent Contractors Employees Cause Harm?

interview with Lee Ohanianvia The Lars Larson Show
Thursday, September 12, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Lee Ohanian discusses his California On Your Mind article "California On Verge Of Passing Enormous Job-Killing Bill."

Economic PolicyFeatured

California On Verge Of Passing Enormous Job-Killing Bill

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, September 10, 2019

California legislators are close to voting on a bill that would reclassify hundreds of thousands of independent contractors as employees. If passed, this bill will destroy many very productive economic opportunities, and substantially restrict free choice for individuals.

PoliticsFeatured

A 2020 Recession May Be The Only Roadblock To Trump’s Reelection

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Even though the 2020 election is more than a year away, President Trump’s reelection appears likely unless the economy turns down sharply next year. One reason why Trump is likely to win is that sitting presidents are almost always reelected if the economy is performing well. Like him or not, the current US economy is one of the best in a long time, and this strongly suggests a Trump reelection.

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