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UC Berkeley professor takes D.C. post, is latest in long line of campus economists advising Clinton Administration
21 Jul 2000

By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations

Berkeley -- Yet another University of California, Berkeley, economist has left for Washington, D.C., to advise the Clinton Administration. Joseph V. Farrell is the U.S. Department of Justice's new deputy assistant attorney general for economic analysis, the department's antitrust division has announced.

Farrell's appointment brings to 15 the number of UC Berkeley scholars- in the fields of economics, business and law - that have counseled the administration on issues ranging from high-tech competition and unemployment to international trade, intellectual property and cable TV rates.

The Justice Department said in a statement that the economics professor's extensive experience will help ensure that American markets remain free, open and competitive.

"This is probably the best job in the world for someone who wants to be where industrial organization economics meets the road in competition enforcement," said Farrell from his D.C. office. "The economic issues are often difficult, but the other way to look at this is that it's an exciting time."

As part of the economic analysis team, Farrell will work with other governmental agencies on cutting-edge economic research, analysis of the competitive effects of mergers, and competition-enhancing deregulation policy in key sectors of the economy.

Carl Shapiro, another UC Berkeley faculty member who once held Farrell's position in Washington, said the Justice Department is "one of the strongest agencies for doing strong, state-of-the-art microeconomics, at least in the area of competition policy. It is aided by academics who cycle through. I think it's a nice model of Berkeley, in the nation's service."

"The anti-trust division at the Justice Department is very much involved in setting the ground rules for the new economy," said Shapiro, Transamerica Professor of Business Strategy at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business. As the government struggles with "new economy" questions involving mergers, telecommunications, airlines, software and the Internet, he added, "there is a great need for economic analysis."

This is Farrell's second stint in Washington. From 1996 to 1997, he served as chief economist with the Federal Communications Commission. He also testified about digital age competition for a 1997 congressional hearing.

He was preceded in his newest post by three other UC Berkeley professors:

* Richard Gilbert, professor of economics, was the first UC Berkeley faculty member in the position. He dealt specifically with intellectual property issues.

* Carl Shapiro had the job from 1995 to 1996. He now is director of the Institute of Business & Economic Research at the Haas School of Business.

* Daniel Rubinfeld, a UC Berkeley professor of both economics and law, held the post from 1997 to 1998.

UC Berkeley has had a presence in other federal arenas as well. Professor Laura Tyson, for example, temporarily left the Haas School and the economics department in 1993 to head the President's Council of Economic Advisers. From 1995 to 1996, she served as chair of the National Economic Council. She returned to UC Berkeley as dean of the business school in 1998. Her husband, Erik Tarloff, has his own Washington connection. He is a novelist, screenwriter, journalist and occasional speechwriter for Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

Professor Janet Yellen left campus for Washington shortly after Tyson did. She served as governor of the seven-member Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve System from 1994 to 1997. In 1997, she was appointed chair of the President's Council of Economic Advisors. She returned to UC Berkeley in 1999 to resume her academic appointment with the Haas School and the economics department.

Others from UC Berkeley who have spent time in D.C. include:

* Howard Shelanski, acting professor of law, who currently is chief economist at the Federal Communications Commission.

* Aaron Edlin, a professor of economics and law who was a senior economist on the President's Council of Economic Advisers from 1997-1998.

* Jeffrey Frankel, a former UC Berkeley economics professor. Now at Harvard, he also served on the President's Council of Economic Advisers.

* Economics professor Brad De Long, deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Treasury Department from 1993 to 1995. He also worked on the Clinton Administration's 1993 budget, the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the unsuccessful health care reform effort.

* David Levine, associate professor at the Haas School, who served as a senior research economist for the Council of Economic Advisers.

* William Dickens, who left his associate professor's post in economics at UC Berkeley for a seat on the Council of Economic Advisers. He is now at the Brookings Institution.

* Michael Katz, a professor at the Haas School and in the economics department. He served as the chief economist for the Federal Communications Commission from 1994 to 1996.

* Jay Stowsky, associate dean for school affairs and initiatives at the Haas School. He served in 1994 as a senior economist on the Council of Economic Advisers.

* James Wilcox, Kruttschnitt Professor of Financial Institutions at the Haas School. He was an economist for the Federal Reserve System's board of governors from 1991-92 and has been on leave at the Office of the Comptroller of Currency in Washington, D.C., since 1999.

"No question that the stream of faculty to D.C., starting with Tyson, has raised our (campus's) profile and reputation," said Maurice Obstfeld, chair of UC Berkeley's economics department.

"We have contributed policymakers in many areas- macropolicy, trade policy, tax policy, to name some," Obstfeld said. "I think this does reflect a world view that is market-oriented, yet pragmatically aware that there are market failures as well as income distribution effects of market changes. That philosophy is very much in line with that of the current administration."

UC Berkeley faculty members includes top academicians, many of whom have extensive government and business experience, Shapiro said, noting a "cross fertilization," of sorts, between the campus and the Capitol.

"We want to serve as a conduit," he said of UC Berkeley.

The campus boasts a "reservoir of talent that will be valued in any administration," Shapiro said. "We're not political by nature. We're moderates, and I predict we'll be involved and advising both Republican and Democratic administrations." Shapiro also informally advised the Bush Administration.

"We see a role for government," he said, "but we tend to be moderate about it. All of us have done theoretical work, but we have worked with companies."

Farrell earned his doctorate in economics from Oxford University in 1981. He has taught regulation and antitrust, competitive strategy, industrial organization and microeconomics. Farrell joined the UC Berkeley economics department in 1991 and the Haas School in 1994. He and Shapiro founded the Competition Policy Center at the Haas School's Institute of Business & Economic Research in June 1999, and Farrell became its director.

Shapiro said he advised Farrell to take the Justice Department job. "I told him, 'Go and enjoy yourself. Just don't stay too long.'"



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