THE BROOKINGS PANEL ON ECONOMIC ACTIVITY held its eighty-ninth
conference in Washington, D.C., on March 18 and 19, 2010. The recent
financial crisis and ensuing recession continue to dominate the minds of
leading economists, and this conference was no exception. Three of the
papers in this volume assess macroeconomic developments in light of these
remarkable events, examining the downturn in the U.S. labor market, the
vulnerability of the financial system, and the spread of the crisis to emerging
market countries. In each case the authors illustrate how economic institutions
mediated the consequences of the macroeconomic shocks. A fourth
paper, which addresses how best to measure GDP, is also highly relevant,
showing that an alternative to the most commonly used measure would have
yielded a clearer early warning of the size and scope of the U.S. downturn.
The two remaining papers compile interesting new data that speak to ongoing
longer-term debates about the balance between work and family and
about health care reform.