Michael Spence

Senior Fellow
Awards and Honors:
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Econometric Society (elected fellow)

Michael Spence is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a professor of economics at the Stern School at New York University, and the Philip H. Knight Professor Emeritus of Management in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.

Spence’s latest publication is The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World (2011).

He served as the chairman of the independent Commission on Growth and Development (2006–10).

He was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001 and the John Bates Clark Medal from the American Economic Association in 1981. He was awarded the David A. Wells Prize for the outstanding doctoral dissertation at Harvard University and the John Kenneth Galbraith Prize for excellence in teaching.

He served as the Philip H. Knight Professor and dean of the Stanford Business School (1990–99). As dean, he oversaw the finances, organization, and educational policies of the school. He taught at Stanford as an associate professor of economics from 1973 to 1975.

He served as a professor of economics and business administration at Harvard University (1975–90). In 1983, he was named chairman of the Economics Department and the George Gund Professor of Economics and Business Administration. Spence also served as the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard (1984–90), overseeing Harvard College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Division of Continuing Education.

From 1977 to 1979, he was a member of the Economics Advisory Panel of the National Science Foundation and in 1979 served as a member of the Sloan Foundation Economics Advisory Committee. He has served as a member of the editorial boards of the American Economics Review, Bell Journal of Economics, and Journal of Economic Theory.

Spence is a member of the boards of directors for General Mills and a number of private companies. He was chairman of the National Research Council Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy (1991–97).

He is a member of the American Economic Association and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society.

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Recent Commentary


China’s Volatile Growth

by Michael Spence, Fred Huvia Project Syndicate
Sunday, February 28, 2016

Uncertainty about China’s economic prospects is roiling global markets – not least because so many questions are so difficult to answer. In fact, China’s trajectory has become almost impossible to anticipate, owing to the confusing – if not conflicting – signals being sent by policymakers.


In Search Of Growth Strategies

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Thursday, January 28, 2016

In 2008, the Commission on Growth and Development, which I had the privilege of chairing, produced a report updating our knowledge about sustainable growth patterns. Then, as now, one thing is clear: the policies that underpin multi-decade periods of high growth, structural transformation, rising employment and incomes, and dramatic reductions in poverty are mutually reinforcing.

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Where’s the Productivity?

by Michael Spencevia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Despite predictions, there’s little sign that automation is making economies more productive. How come?

Analysis and Commentary

The Fed’s Risk To Emerging Economies

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Monday, December 21, 2015
The US Federal Reserve has finally, after almost a decade of steadfast adherence to very low interest rates, hiked its federal funds rate – the rate from which all other interest rates in the economy take their cue – by 25 basis points.

A Hard Look At A Soft Global Economy

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Monday, November 23, 2015

The global economy is settling into a slow-growth rut, steered there by policymakers’ inability or unwillingness to address major impediments at a global level. Indeed, even the current anemic pace of growth is probably unsustainable.

Federal Reserve

A Little Humility, Please, Mr. Summers

by Michael Spence, Kevin Warshvia Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The former treasury secretary launches a misguided defense of quantitative easing.


The Fed Has Hurt Business Investment

by Michael Spence, Kevin Warshvia Wall Street Journal
Monday, October 26, 2015

QE is partly to blame for record share buybacks and meager capital spending.


Job-Saving Technologies

by Michael Spence, James Manyikavia Project Syndicate
Thursday, October 15, 2015

This is an age of anxiety about the job-killing effects of automation, with dire headlines warning that the rise of robots will render entire occupational categories obsolete. But this fatalism assumes that we are powerless to harness what we create to improve our lives – and, indeed, our jobs.


The Inexorable Logic Of The Sharing Economy

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Monday, September 28, 2015

When Amazon was founded in 1994, and eBay the following year, they harnessed the connectivity of the Internet to create new, more efficient markets.


Automation, Productivity, And Growth

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

It seems obvious that if a business invests in automation, its workforce – though possibly reduced – will be more productive. So why do the statistics in advanced countries tell a different story?