What the Heck Is Going on With the U.S. Economy?

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Should we be celebrating a Biden boom? Lamenting inflation and its consequences? Both?

We know how to talk about booms, like the ’90s. We know how to talk about busts, like after the financial crisis. We know how to talk about stagnation. What we don’t know how to talk about is contradictory extremes coexisting together. But that’s the economy we have right now. And a lot rides on figuring out how to balance those extremes. Because if we solve inflation while killing the labor market, we’ll have blown a hole in our foot to save our hand.

And so I wanted to talk today to Jason Furman, an economist at Harvard and the chair of Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2013 to 2017. What I appreciate about Jason is he doesn’t pretend the economy is only one thing or there’s only one lens for looking at it. He’s an unusually multimodeled thinker.

We discuss whether families and workers are making it out ahead given the dual realities of rising wages and rising prices, why so many economists and forecasters got this economy wrong, to what extent the Biden stimulus is responsible for both the booming economy and spiking inflation, whether the economic lessons of the financial crisis were overlearned, why Furman thinks supply-chain issues are “overrated” as a cause of inflation, what the Great Resignation misses, how the Biden administration should restructure its Build Back Better bill, and more.

Book Recommendations:

The Myth of the Rational Voter by Bryan Caplan

The Weirdest People in the World by Joseph Henrich

Who We Are and How We Got Here by David Reich

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

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