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

San Francisco’s “Overpaid CEO Tax” Won’t Solve Its Mental-Health And Drug Epidemics

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, August 13, 2019

It is now commonplace to criticize corporate CEOs within progressive political circles, so it is no surprise that San Francisco, one of the most politically progressive cities in the country, has proposed a tax on CEOs. But just not any CEO, only those with exceptionally high salaries compared with others in the company. Dubbed the “CEO Excessive Salary Tax,” the proposal would tax a company’s gross receipts depending on the difference between its CEO’s pay and the median salary of its workers.

PoliticsFeatured

Deconstructing Kamala Harris’s “Medicare For All” Plan

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, August 6, 2019

California senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris just released her “Medicare for All” plan. Some claim her plan, which retains private insurance, is better than Bernie Sanders’s plan, which eliminates private insurance. But the economics of Harris’s plan shows that private insurance has no significant role in “Medicare for All,” even if it is advertised that way.

Economic PolicyFeatured

San Francisco’s Flawed “IPO Tax” Proposal Would Tax So Much More

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, July 30, 2019

San Francisco supervisors thought they had designed a wealth tax that would hit only those benefiting from the initial public offerings (IPOs) of highly successful San Francisco technology businesses, such as Uber, Pinterest, and Airbnb, among others. Tech companies often compensate employees partially with stock, whose values can rise enormously in an IPO.

PoliticsFeatured

Kamala Harris’s Economic Policies

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, July 23, 2019

There are now five Democratic presidential candidates who appear to have separated from the original field of 25: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris, who has made a significant move in the polls since her performance in the first Democratic debate.

Last week, Harris moved slightly ahead of Biden, 23 percent to 21 percent, in one highly respected poll. This same poll found Harris ahead of Trump, 49 percent to 41 percent, if the election were to be held now.

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The Ministry of Labor

by Lee Ohanianvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A proposed law would dramatically interfere with businesses’ right to hire and promote whom they want. California doesn’t need this Orwellian regulation.

HousingFeatured

What Do Silicon Valley Tech Workers Earning $100,000 Call An Old Van? Home.

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, July 16, 2019

It takes an annual income of about $130,000 to qualify for renting the average apartment (less than 800 square feet of living space) in the technology hubs of Silicon Valley and San Francisco, where the average monthly rent is about $3,250. This minimum qualifying income is at the 93rd percentile of the US earnings distribution and is nearly $60,000 higher than the median salary for individuals in San Francisco.

Policy InsightsFeatured

Social Safety Nets

by John F. Cogan, Edward Paul Lazear, Lee Ohanian, Daniel Heilvia PolicyEd
Thursday, July 11, 2019

The federal government spends trillions of dollars each year on social safety net programs that take many different forms. Some provide cash assistance, and others provide health care, food, or housing. With so much money being spent on so many programs, it can be difficult to comprehend the extent of the US social safety net, its effectiveness, and its shortcomings. 

PoliticsFeatured

California’s Governor Pushes For Single-Payer Health Care

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, July 9, 2019

California governor Gavin Newsom, who campaigned on bringing single-payer health care to California, has taken the next step by proposing to replace the state’s existing health-care advisory commission with a new commission that is narrowly focused on single-payer health care.

Newsom stated that “a single-payer financing system is the best way to achieve universal coverage.… My goal is to get everybody in and to stabilize costs.

HousingFeatured

The Backwards Economics Of San Francisco’s Homeless Policies

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors just approved a plan to build a homeless shelter. The problem is that the location of the shelter is on the city’s waterfront Embarcadero, which happens to be the most expensive neighborhood in San Francisco, where home sales have averaged nearly $1,200 per square foot. The ground leasing rights for the city’s Ferry Building, just down the street and on a similar size parcel, sold for $291 million earlier this year.

EconomicsFeatured

Californians Are Losing Their Supermajority Protection Over Tax Increases

by Lee Ohanianvia California on Your Mind
Tuesday, June 25, 2019

For the last forty years, California has required that new taxes earmarked for a specific purpose be approved by a two-thirds supermajority in a general election to pass. But the state’s supreme court has thrown out this protection for new tax initiatives that are brought forward by a citizens’ group, rather than by government directly. Predictably, new and expensive tax initiatives are now being brought by citizens’ groups and are passing by simple majority when they would not pass by the previous supermajority rule.

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