Barbarian at the gate: 400 prominent economists speak out against Trump

trump_barbarian_gettyimages-520268716Less than a week before Americans go to the polls, four hundred of the country’s most prominent economists, including eight Nobel Laureates, have signed an open letter to America’s voters declaring the candidacy of Donald Trump as a danger to the nation.

In no uncertain terms, the letter lays out the outright falsehoods, jingoistic simplicities, and willful distortions of economic realities that Trump has successfully employed to poison our nation’s collective psyche.

This letter—penned, I imagine, in true desperation out of the need to sound the alarm and create a protest for the historical record—reminds me of the proverbial discussion of the tree in the forest. We all know how it goes: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, did it, in fact, fall?

Similarly, if hundreds of America’s most-respected experts in economics declare Trump’s statements and economic musings to be a pile of you-know-what, and no one listens, what do we take away from that? Do those economic realities not exist? Can facts be willed away? Who are we as a nation becoming? What future is there for a country in which almost half of us disregard the facts and believe a charlatan’s self-serving rantings?

Most importantly, will enough voters take heed of what these respected economists have warned us of and reject this lying, unqualified, despicable human being? Will we redeem ourselves at the eleventh hour and vote “no” to this national nightmare?

Here is the full letter:

We, the undersigned economists, represent a broad variety of areas of expertise andare united in our opposition to Donald Trump. We recommend that voters choose a different candidate on the following grounds:

He degrades trust in vital public institutions that collect and disseminate information about the economy, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by spreading disinformation about the integrity of their work.

He has misled voters in states like Ohio and Michigan by asserting that the renegotiation of NAFTA or the imposition of tariffs on China would substantially increase employment in manufacturing. In fact, manufacturing’s share of employment has been declining since the 1970s and is mostly related to automation, not trade.

He claims to champion former manufacturing workers, but has no plan to assist their transition to well-compensated service sector positions. Instead, he has diverted the policy discussion to options that ignore both the reality of technological progress and the benefits of international trade.

He has misled the public by asserting that U.S. manufacturing has declined. The location and product composition of manufacturing has changed, but the level of output has more than doubled in the U.S. since the 1980s.

He has falsely suggested that trade is zero-sum and that the “toughness” of negotiators primarily drives trade deficits.

He has misled the public with false statements about trade agreements eroding national income and wealth. Although the gains have not been equally distributed—and this is an important discussion in itself—both mean income and mean wealth have risen substantially in the U.S. since the 1980s.

He has lowered the seriousness of the national dialogue by suggesting that the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Education would significantly reduce the fiscal deficit. A credible solution will require an increase in tax revenue and/or a reduction n in spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or Defense.

He claims he will eliminate the fiscal deficit, but has proposed a plan that would decrease tax revenue by $2.6 to $5.9 trillion over the next decade according to the non-partisan Tax Foundation.

He claims that he will reduce the trade deficit, but has proposed a reduction in public saving that is likely to increase it.

He uses immigration as a red herring to mislead voters about issues of economic importance, such as the stagnation of wages for households with low levels of education. Several forces are responsible for this, but immigration appears to play only a modest role. Focusing the dialogue on this channel, rather than more substantive channels, such as automation, diverts the public debate to unproductive policy options.

He has misled the electorate by asserting that the U.S. is one of the most heavily taxed countries. While the U.S. has a high top statutory corporate tax rate, the average effective rate is much lower, and taxes on income and consumption are relatively low. Overall, the U.S. has one of the lowest ratios of tax revenue to GDP in the OECD.

His statements reveal a deep ignorance of economics and an inability to listen to credible experts. He repeats fake and misleading economic statistics, and pushes fallacies about the VAT and trade competitiveness.

He promotes magical thinking and conspiracy theories over sober assessments of feasible economic policy options.

Donald Trump is a dangerous, destructive choice for the country. He misinforms the electorate, degrades trust in public institutions with conspiracy theories, and promotes willful delusion over engagement with reality. If elected, he poses a unique danger to the functioning of democratic and economic institutions, and to the prosperity of the country.

For these reasons, we strongly recommend that you do not vote for Donald Trump.


Jason Abaluck, Yale University

Dilip J. Abreu, Princeton University

Daron Acemoglu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Amir Ali Ahmadi, Princeton University

Mohammad Akbarpour, Stanford University

Stefania Albanesi, University of Pittsburgh

David Albouy, University of Illinois

  1. Nageeb Ali, Pennsylvania State University

Hunt Allcott, New York University

Douglas Almond, Columbia University

Daniel Altman, New York University

Donald Andrews, Yale University

Isaiah Andrews, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Andres Aradillas-Lopez, Pennsylvania State University

Kenneth Ardon, Salem State University

Timothy Armstrong, Yale University

Nick Arnosti, Columbia University

Kenneth J. Arrow, Stanford University

Gaurab Aryal, University of Virginia

Arash Asadpour, New York University

Susan Athey, Stanford University

Andrew Atkeson, University of California, Los Angeles

Maximilian Auffhammer, University of California, Berkeley

Mariagiovanna Baccara, Washington University, St. Louis

Jonathan B. Baker, American University

Laurence Ball, Johns Hopkins University

Abhijit Banerjee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

James Bang, St. Ambrose University

Chris Barrett, Cornell University

Jean Noel Barrot, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

John C. Beghin, Iowa State University

Jess Benhabib, New York University

Lanier Benkard, Stanford University

Alan Benson, University of Minnesota

Ronald Berenbeim, New York University

Dirk Bergemann, Yale University

David Berger, Northwestern University

Daniel Beunza, London School of Economics

Joydeep Bhattacharya, Iowa State University

Alberto Bisin, New York University

Emily Blank, Howard University

Francine D. Blau, Cornell University

Nicholas Bloom, Stanford University

Simon Board, University of California, Los Angeles

Luigi Bocola, Northwestern University

Elizabeth Bogan, Princeton University

Michele Boldrin, Washington University, St. Louis

Patrick Bolton, Columbia University

Carl Bonham, University of Hawaii, Manoa

John P. Bonin, Wesleyan University

Severin Borenstein, University of California, Berkeley

Tilman Borgers, University of Michigan

William C. Brainard, Yale University

Timothy Bresnahan, Stanford University

Moshe Buchinsky, University of California, Los Angeles

Eric Budish, University of Chicago

Daniel D. Butler, Auburn University

Sebastien Buttet, City University of New York

Ricardo Caballero, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

John Y. Campbell, Harvard University

Christopher D. Carroll, Johns Hopkins University

Gabriel Carroll, Stanford University

Michael R. Carter, University of California, Davis

Elizabeth Caucutt, University of Western Ontario

Sewin Chan, New York University

Arun G. Chandrasekhar, Stanford University

David A. Chapman, University of Virginia

Kalyan Chatterjee, Pennsylvania State University

Victor Chernozhukov, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Bhagwan Chowdhry, University of California, Los Angeles

Lawrence Christiano, Northwestern University

Michael Chwe, University of California, Los Angeles

Tim Classen, Loyola University Chicago

Gian Luca Clementi, New York University

Victor Couture, University of California, Berkeley

Ian Coxhead, University of Wisconsin

Eric W. Crawford, Michigan State University

Sean Crockett, City University of New York, Baruch College

Barbara Crockett, City University of New York, Baruch College

Samuel Culbert, University of California, Los Angeles

  1. David Cummins, Temple University

David Cutler, Harvard University

Jaksa Cvitanic, California Institute of Technology

Chetan Dave, New York University

Paul A. David, Stanford University

Donald R. Davis, Columbia University

Angus Deaton, Princeton University

Joyee Deb, Yale University

Rajeev Dehejia, New York University

Stefano DellaVigna, University of California, Berkeley

Tatyana Deryugina, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Ravi Dhar, Yale University

Marco Di Maggio, Harvard Business School

Dimitrios Diamantaras, Temple University

Peter Diamond, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Avinash K. Dixit, Princeton University

Rebecca Dizon-Ross, University of Chicago

Matthias Doepke, Northwestern University

Esther Duflo, Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology

Steven Durlauf, University of Wisconsin

William Easterly, New York University

Federico Echenique, California Institute of Technology

Florian Ederer, Yale University

Aaron S. Edlin, University of California, Berkeley

Lena Edlund, Columbia University

Sebastian Edwards, University of California, Los Angeles

J.P. Eggers, New York University

Sara Fisher Ellison, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Jeffrey Ely, Northwestern University

Ryan Fang, University of Chicago

Langdana Farrokh, Rutgers University

Daniel Fetter, Wellesley College

David Figlio, Northwestern University

Diana Fletschner

Frederick Floss, State University of New York at Buffalo

Dana Foarta, Stanford University

Meredith Fowlie, University of California, Berkeley

Jeffrey Frankel, Harvard University

Guillaume Frechette, New York University

Victor R. Fuchs, Stanford University

Thomas Fujiwara, Princeton University

David W. Galenson, University of Chicago

Sebastián Gallegos, Princeton University

Michael Gallmeyer, University of Virginia

David Gamarnik, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Bernhard Ganglmair, University of Texas at Dallas

Pedro Gardete, Stanford University

Robert Garlick, Duke University

Peter Garrod, University of Hawaii, Manoa

Claudine Gartenberg, New York University

François Geerolf, University of California, Los Angeles

Christophre Georges, Hamilton College

George Georgiadis, Northwestern University

Andra Ghent, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Suman Ghosh, Florida Atlantic University

Stefano Giglio, University of Chicago

Chuan Goh, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Ben Golub, Harvard University

Daniel Gottlieb, Washington University, St Louis

Lawrence H. Goulder, Stanford University

William Greene, New York University

Dan Greenwald, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Matthew Grennan, University of Pennsylvania

Gene Grossman, Princeton University

Jean Grossman, Princeton University

Michael Grubb, Boston College

Jonathan Gruber, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Martin J. Gruber, New York University

Isabel Guerrero, Harvard University

Veronica Guerrieri, University of Chicago

Adam Guren, Boston University

Isa Hafalir, Carnegie Mellon University

Nima Haghpanah, Pennsylvania State University

Jens Hainmueller, Stanford University

Marina Halac, Columbia University

Jeffrey Hammer, Princeton University

Ben Handel, University of California, Berkeley

Oliver D. Hart, Harvard University

Tarek Alexander Hassan, University of Chicago

Andreas Hauskrecht, Indiana University

Brent Hickman, University of Chicago

Kate Ho, Columbia University

Saul D. Hoffman, University of Delaware

Stephen Holland, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

Thomas J. Holmes, University of Minnesota

Adam Honig, Amherst College

Roozbeh Hosseini, University of Georgia

Sabrina Howell, New York University

Peter Howitt, Brown University

Hilary Hoynes, University of California, Berkeley

Yasheng Huang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Isaiah Hull, Sveriges Riksbank

Jennifer Hunt, Rutgers University

Barry W. Ickes, Pennsylvania State University

Nicolas Inostroza, Northwestern University

Oleg Itskhoki, Princeton University

Kelsey Jack, Tufts University

Sanford M. Jacoby, University of California, Los Angeles

Paul Jakus, Utah State University

Gerald Jaynes, Yale University

Ely Jeffrey, Northwestern University

Geoffrey Jehle, Vassar College

Elizabeth J. Jensen, Hamilton College

Barbara A.P. Jones, Alabama A&M University

Derek C. Jones, Hamilton College

Joseph P. Joyce, Wellesley College

John H. Kagel, Ohio State University

Lisa B. Kahn, Yale University

Navin Kartik, Columbia University

Barbara G. Katz, New York University

Michael Klein, Tufts University

Christopher R. Knittel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Yilmaz Kocer, University of Southern California

Michal Kolesár, Princeton University

Charles Kolstad, Stanford University

Gerald F. Kominski, University of California, Los Angeles

Matthew Kotchen, Yale University

Kate Krause, University of New Mexico

Mordecai Kurz, Stanford University

David Laitin, Stanford University

Fabian Lange, McGill University

Joe Langsam, University of Maryland and Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Michel Lawrence, Economic Policy Institute

Jonathan Leonard, University of California, Berkeley

Jacob Leshno, Columbia University

Dan Levin, Ohio State University

David Levin, University of California, Berkeley

Shengwu Li, Harvard University

Annie Liang, University of Pennsylvania

Marc Lieberman, New York University

Benjamin Linkow, University of Chicago

Dennis B. Liotta, New York University

Elliot Lipnowski, University of Chicago

Zachary Liscow, Yale University

Adriana Lleras-Muney, University of California, Los Angeles

Benjamin Lockwood, University of Pennsylvania

Guido Lorenzoni, Northwestern University

Jay Lu, University of California, Los Angeles

Sydney C. Ludvigson, New York University

Catherine Maclean, Temple University

Mihai Manea, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Eric Maskin, Harvard University

Costas Meghir, Yale University

Marc Melitz, Harvard University

Konrad Menzel, New York University

Robert C. Merton, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Andrew Metrick, Yale University

Atif Mian, Princeton University

Ronald Miller, Columbia University

Alan Miller, University of Haifa

Kurt Mitman, Stockholm University

Benjamin Moll, Princeton University

Dilip Mookherjee, Boston University

Jonathan Morduch, New York University

Alan Moreira, Yale University

John Morgan, University of California, Berkeley

Stephen E. Morris, Princeton University

Taylor Muir, University of California, Los Angeles

Aldo Musacchio, Brandeis University

Roger Myerson, University of Chicago

John Nachbar, Washington University, St. Louis

Barry Nalebuff, Yale University

Paulo Natenzon, Washington University, St. Louis

Roz Naylor, Stanford University

Jack Needleman, University of California, Los Angeles

Christopher A. Neilson, Princeton University

David Neumark, University of California, Irvine

Marina Niessner, Yale University

Roger G. Noll, Stanford University

John O’Trakoun, Ford Motor Company

Ezra Oberfield, Princeton University

James Orlin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

David L. Ortega, Michigan State University

Pietro Ortoleva, Columbia University

Sharon Oster, Yale University

Emily Oster, Brown University

Ann Owen, Hamilton College

Thomas Palfrey, California Institute of Technology

Giri Parameswaran, Haverford College

Sahar Parsa, Tufts University

David Pearce, New York University

Lynne Pepall, Tufts University

Michael Peters, Yale University

Monika Piazzesi, Stanford University

Robert S. Pindyck, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Laetitia Placido, City University of New York

Jeffrey Pliskin, Hamilton College

Steve Polasky, University of Minnesota

Eswar Prasad, Cornell University

Anita Prasad, Temple University

Thomas Pugel, New York University

Melissa Pumphrey

Richard E. Quandt, Princeton University

Hazhir Rahmandad, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Gautam Rao, Harvard University

David S. Rapson, University of California, Davis

Debraj Ray, New York University

Thomas Reardon, Michigan State University

Julian Reif, University of Illinois

David Reiley, Pandora Media, Inc., and University of California, Berkeley

Philip Reny, University of Chicago

John Riley, University of California, Los Angeles

Mario Rizzo, New York University

John Roberts, Stanford University

Yana Rodgers, Rutgers University

Paul M. Romer, New York University

Donald B. Rosenfield, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, Princeton University

Alvin E. Roth, Stanford University

Dan Sacks, Indiana University

Maryam Saeedi, Carnegie Mellon University

Maher Said, New York University

Sarada Sarada, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Christine Sauer, University of New Mexico

Anja Sautmann, Brown University

Laura Schechter, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Jose A. Scheinkman, Columbia University and Princeton University

Frank Schilbach, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Andrew Schotter, New York University

William Schulze, Cornell University

Stuart O. Schweitzer, University of California, Los Angeles

Julia Schwenkenberg, Rutgers University, Newark

Paul Scott, New York University

Fiona M. Scott Morton, Yale University

Douglas Shaw, Economist

Mark Shepard, Harvard University

Itai Sher, University of California

Gerald Shively, Purdue University

Ali Shourideh, Carnegie Mellon university

Nirvikar Singh, University of California, Santa Cruz

Marciano Siniscalchi, Northwestern University

Jack Stecher, Carnegie Mellon University

John Sterman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Scott Stern, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Steven Stern, Stony Brook University

Adam Storeygard, Tufts University

Sandip Sukhtankar, University of Virginia

Scott Sumner, Bentley University

Ashley Swanson, University of Pennsylvania

Steve Tadelis, University of California, Berkeley

Joshua Tasoff, Claremont Graduate University

Dmitry Taubinsky, Dartmouth College

  1. Edward Taylor, University of California, Davis

Richard Thaler, University of Chicago

Mallika Thomas, Cornell University

Felix Tintelnot, University of Chicago

Oana Tocoian, Claremont McKenna College

Dan Tortorice, Brandeis University

Nikos Trichakis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

David Tschirley, Michigan State University

Robert W. Turner, Colgate University

Stephen Turnovsky, University of Washington

Kosuke Uetake, Yale University

Utku Unver, Boston College

Robert Valdez, University of New Mexico

John Van Reenen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Richard Van Weelden, University of Chicago

Kerry D. Vandell, University of California, Irvine

Laura Veldkamp, New York University

Venky Venkateswaran, New York University

Gianluca Violante, New York University

Tom Vogl, Princeton University

Paul Wachtel, New York University

Joel Waldfogel, University of Minnesota

Don Waldman, Colgate University

Xiao Yu Wang, Duke University

Leonard Wantchekon, Princeton University

Mark Watson, Princeton University

Jonathan Weinstein, Washington University, St. Louis

Birger Wernerfelt, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ivan Werning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Silvia Weyerbrock, Princeton University

  1. Glen Weyl, Yale University

Roger White, Whittier College

Andrea Wilson, Georgetown University

Larry Wimmer, Brigham Young University

Justin Wolfers, University of Michigan

Catherine Wolfram, University of California, Berkeley

Richard Woodward, Texas A&M University

Jeffrey Wooldridge, Michigan State University

Bruce Wydick, University of San Francisco

Dean Yang, University of Michigan

Muhamet Yildiz, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Pai-Ling Yin, University of Southern California

Gary Yohe, Wesleyan University

Thomas C. Youle, Dartmouth College

Albert Zevelev, Baruch College

Frederick Zimmerman, University of California, Los Angeles

Seth Zimmerman, University of Chicago

Eric Zivot, University of Washington


NOTE: Institutions are listed for identification purposes and should not be viewed as signatories to the letter.