Katz Advises Kerry's Campaign

Harvard economist says he has no plans to leave Cambridge any time soon

The Democratic nominee for president may wear Yale blue at his college reunions, but during his campaign for the White House Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., has relied on the advice of some of Harvard’s top economists.

In addition to seeking the advice of University President Lawrence H. Summers, who served as secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton adminstration, the Kerry campaign has also asked Allison Professor of Economics Lawrence F. Katz to weigh in on economic policy.

“I’ve helped them [by providing] analysis on what’s been going on in the labor market and what the potential for job growth with better fiscal and economic policies is,” Katz said this week.

Katz said he has contributed his ideas to the campaign in an informal manner, with little, if any, involvement with the candidate himself.

“There are a set of conference calls that basically consist of the people on the economics team,” Katz said. “Senator Kerry is not on those calls. They’re pretty informal discussions of policy issues, and sometimes I’ve prepared memos.”

These conference calls have varied in frequency from as often as every day to as seldom as weekly, Katz said.

Katz said his experience with the campaign has been positive, and that he himself firmly favors Kerry’s bid.

“The Kerry economic policy people are quite committed and quite forward looking,” Katz said. “They’ve been quite receptive to my policy and factual issues.”

Despite his positive experience as part of the Kerry team—and in spite of his Washington experience as the chief economist for the federal Department of Labor from 1993 to 1994—Katz said he has no intention of permanently joining a President Kerry in the nation’s capital if asked.

“I’m a strong supporter of the Kerry team,” Katz said. “I’d be very happy to help from Cambridge, but I have no plans on leaving Harvard for any period of time. I’m a full-time researcher and teacher and those are my first priorities.”

In addition to his titles at Harvard and his role in the Kerry campaign, Katz is a major figure in the world of economics. He is an editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics and a Research Associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research. At Harvard, Katz teaches Economics 1815, “Social Problems of the American Economy”; Economics 2810a, “Labor Market Analysis”; Economics 2810b, “Labor Economics and Labor Market Institutions”; and Economics 2812, “Labor Economics Workshop.”

—Staff writer Joshua P. Rogers can be reached at jprogers@fas.harvard.edu.