Rob Atkinson

Rob Atkinson is the founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

@RobAtkinsonITIF

It’s Time to Bring Back Place-Based Policymaking Share This

May 24, 2021

Between the New Deal era of the 1930s and the late 1970s, it was the formal policy of the federal government to care about and try to reduce regional economic disparities. But as neoclassical economics steeped with market fundamentalist ideology started to gain ascendency in the 1970s, the federal government gradually abandoned efforts to help […]

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No, Adopting an Industrial Policy Doesn’t Mean We’re Emulating China Share This

Apr 14, 2021

As the Biden administration and Congress consider “industrial policy” legislation (e.g., the Endless Frontier Act, the CHIPS Act, funding for shoring up domestic supply chains, and a more robust R&D credit) it’s perhaps not surprising that many pundits, journalists, and policymakers are asking how this is any different than what China is doing. After all, […]

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The Fed’s Most Harmful Statistics Error Share This

Apr 06, 2021

Government economic statistics are critical to understanding the economy and making policy. For example, the Federal Reserve relies on accurate information about inflation to make monetary policy. Accurate statistics are also important for understanding structural economic changes and economic performance. Nowhere is this more important than in understanding what has happened to manufacturing output and […]

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Freedom, Fairness or Flourishing: America’s Fundamental Economic Policy Choice Share This

Apr 01, 2021

Joe Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan is big and bold. Most pundits and the media see it as a rejection of the prior half century of small government, free-market conservative thinking and a new kind of growth policy. As the Wall Street Journal puts it, “It all marks a major turning point for economic policy. The […]

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Calling on the Wrong Profession: Time to Listen Less to Economists Share This

Mar 15, 2021

As hard as it is to believe, there was a time – before the New Deal – when economists were largely treated like any other interest group, occasionally saying something interesting, but usually ignored by policymakers. All that changed when Keynesian economics started to be seen to the solution of business cycle downturns, and then […]

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1980 All Over Again? In Search of the Right Analogy for the 2020 Election Share This

Mar 01, 2021

To make sense of the unprecedented presidential election we’ve just been through, pundits have analogized it to past elections: 1896, because of conflict between agrarian (Bryan) and urban (McKinley) interests; 1908, because of the historic rate of turnout; 1920, with Warren Harding promising a return to normalcy; 1968, because of the violent demonstrations; and many […]

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Why Raising the Minimum Wage Will Grow the Economy, Not Kill Jobs Share This

Feb 19, 2021

Whenever Congress debates raising the minimum wage, policymakers reflexively turn to economists for advice, and nearly all economists, regardless of their ideological orientation, say with unyielding conviction that a higher minimum wage will produce higher unemployment. The only difference between conservative and liberal economists is that they latter say the increase will be negligible, but […]

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It’s Neither the Investor Class nor the Middle Class: It’s the Producer Class, Stupid! Share This

Feb 03, 2021

If one believes that ideas matter, then the person who has surely done the most harm to humanity is Karl Marx, as his writings led to Communism, with its repression and tens of millions of deaths (as well the rise of Nazi Germany). But today in the United States, Marx’s most damaging legacy is his […]

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Before COVID, the Economy Was Already Sick from Washington Groupthink Share This

Jan 27, 2021

When it comes to the economy, the Biden administration will have to focus on three things: COVID, a recovery package, and China. Everyone understands we have to get vaccines in the arms of as many Americans as possible as soon as possible. And hopefully the Senate can agree on an economic recovery package. But figuring […]

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National Developmentalism ≠ Critical Theory Radicalism Share This

Jan 12, 2021

After years of dismissing the rise of critical theory-inspired identity politics, many conservatives have become “woke” to just how divisive this movement is. The problem, however, is that some free market fundamentalists see both radical intersectionalists and Hamiltonian supporters of national developmentalism as desecrators of the Founding Father’s principles.

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Potato Chips, Computer Chips: Yes, There is a Difference Share This

Dec 23, 2020

After a half century of neoclassical economics dominance, it has become a truism among most economists and policy makers that a nation’s sectoral composition doesn’t matter. Indeed, perhaps no canard has been more damaging to the process of putting in place a national innovation and competitiveness strategy than the notion that America can not only […]

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Growth vs. Redistribution: The New Fault Line in U.S. Politics of Economic Policy Share This

Dec 12, 2020

A few years ago, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF, the tech policy think tank I lead) surveyed several hundred DC policy folks to find out, among other things, what they thought ITIF’s political orientation was. About 40 percent said we were moderate, a third said we were conservative, and a quarter said we […]

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