What Issues Are Economists Focusing on in 2017?

Which major economic issues are most concerning to economists in 2017? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world..

Answer by David Autor, Ford Professor of Economics and Associate Head at MIT, on Quora:

Major issues of pressing concern:

  1. The possibility of a trade war between the U.S. and China or Mexico or both.
  2. The possibility of a housing/financial crisis in China that will send that country into a huge recession, dampening demand worldwide.
  3. The possible breakup of the European Union, which will be highly challenging to unwind.
  4. Another financial bubble bursting in the U.S. -- though I don't think this is too likely.

These are the pressing short-term issues. They are not the pressing long-term issues. Some longer term issues are:

  1. Paying the huge health and retirement costs of the aging and slow-growing populations in the developed world.
  2. Generating faster economic growth -- which would help greatly with the first long-term problem.
  3. Addressing the declining earnings and employment opportunities for less-educated adults in advanced economies.
  4. Managing the disruptions that will likely be caused by advancing AI and ML: fully autonomous driverless vehicles, a contracting set of dexterous/physical jobs, including manufacturing and personal services. And possibly much graver disruptions to the value of products produced using manual labor in the developing world.

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