New funds for new ideas in economic policymaking

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The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has launched a two-year, $10 million exploratory effort to support research on new ideas and intellectual frameworks in economics and economic policymaking.

The new effort will be part of the foundation’s Special Projects, which have included incubating potential initiatives, as well as enabling collaboration with other foundations. It will be managed by Jennifer Harris, an expert in economics and international relations, who joined the foundation this week as a Senior Fellow in the office of the president.

The exploration will focus on supporting nonpartisan, independent research and convenings to reimagine the relationship between markets and government and better address the challenges of the 21st century.

“Our current approaches have proved unable to provide satisfactory answers to problems like wealth inequality, wage stagnation, economic dislocation due to globalization, and loss of jobs and economic security due to technology and automation,” said Larry Kramer, president of the Hewlett Foundation. “Yet circumstances are ripe for the emergence of a new 21st-century social contract. Philanthropy can help support fresh thinking about policy that can inspire citizens and open new space for people on the left and the right to solve problems.”

Kramer’s memo to the Hewlett Foundation board detailing the need for this new thinking and the role that philanthropy can play is publicly available. It recounts how the current “neoliberal” paradigm became dominant, including the pivotal role philanthropy played in its rise, and draws from that history to explain why conditions at present seem favorable for developing a new paradigm better suited to today’s circumstances and problems.

Harris was previously a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, writing and speaking on international economic issues, U.S. foreign policy, and climate and energy policy. Before that, she served as a member of the secretary’s policy planning staff at the U.S. Department of State. She began her career serving on the U.S. National Intelligence Council staff, covering a range of economic and financial issues. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The Washington Post, Politico, Bloomberg, and CNN, among other outlets. A Truman and Rhodes scholar, she holds bachelor’s degrees in economics and international relations from Wake Forest University, a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Oxford, and a juris doctor from Yale Law School.

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