Thomas Ferguson is the Research Director at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and Senior Fellow at Better Markets. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and taught formerly at MIT and the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including Golden Rule (University of Chicago Press, 1995) and Right Turn (Hill & Wang, 1986). His articles have appeared in many scholarly journals, including the Quarterly Journal of Economics, International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, and the Journal of Economic History. He is a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Political Economy and a longtime Contributing Editor at The Nation.

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Big Money—Not Political Tribalism—Drives US Elections

Article | Oct 31, 2018

Conventional wisdom asserts that American politics is becoming more and more tribal. But the chiefs of the tribes share a lot in common: dependence on big money.

Economic Distress Did Drive Trump’s Win

Article | Oct 31, 2018

Contrary to the dominant media narrative, social issues like racism and sexism on their own can’t explain Trump’s success.

The Economic and Social Roots of Populist Rebellion: Support for Donald Trump in 2016

Paper Working Paper Series | | Oct 2018

This paper critically analyzes voting patterns in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

INET Memo to G20: The Trouble with Economic Research Evaluation

Article | May 28, 2018

In a memo for the G20, INET calls for changes to the evaluation of economic research to ensure that economic theory—and policy—is more rigorous, innovative, and in service to society. 

Featuring this expert

El Economista cites INET research on the cost of the pandemic

News Nov 25, 2020

“To save the economy, you have to save people first, is the title of a paper by Alvelda, Ferguson and Mallery of the Institute for New Economic Thinking. This work groups countries into three categories, according to the response to the covid: those that gave priority to maintaining economic life; those who focused on taking care of health first and those who wanted to be placed in the middle, but did not do either one well. The best economic results correspond to those who prioritized health. They are countries that are in Asia and Oceania, mainly. The worst are in the other two groups. Those who did not define one or the other, got the worst of both worlds: many deaths and great economic damage. What can be done? Alvelda, Ferguson, and Mallery recommend targeted subsidies by regions and sectors hardest hit; guarantee income for workers in non-essential activities and subsidize health safety measures for all those who cannot stop. This means, among other things, public money to make public transport and some massive workplaces more sanitary. Subsidize supervision / surveillance measures in spaces where many people go: shopping centers and places of religious worship, for example.” — Luis Miguel Gonzalez, El Economista (translated from Spanish)

The FT cites INET working paper showing elites are thwarting democracy

News Nov 23, 2020

“Anyone with a pulse knows that in the US today the system is rigged in favour of the wealthy and powerful. One particularly illuminating paper published this month by the Institute for New Economic Thinking quantifies the problem. Building on a persuasive 2014 data set, it shows that when opinion shifts among the wealthiest top 10 per cent of the US population, changes in policy become far more likely. Using AI and machine learning, INET academics Shawn McGuire and Charles Delahunt delved deep into the data. They found that considering the opinions of anyone outside that top 10 per cent was a far less accurate predictor of what happened to government policy. The numbers showed that: “not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions; they have little or no independent influence on policy at all”.” — Rana Foroohar, The Financial Times

Truthout cites INET research showing that to save the economy controlling the pandemic comes first

News Nov 23, 2020

“A new international analysis by the Institute for New Economic Thinking found countries such as South Korea and New Zealand that focused on lockdowns early on in the pandemic, rather than preserving their economies, have gained control over the virus and are now seeing their economies grow, in contrast with the dire economic circumstances currently in the U.S.” — Mike Lugwig, Truthout

Thomas Ferguson's article affluent authoritarianism is referenced in The Financial Times

News Nov 11, 2020

“The role of money in US politics is fundamental. A recent updating of earlier research, released by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, confirms that the views of the top decile of the population largely determine policy. The inevitable frustrations of the rest give the parties their passionate voting blocs.” — Martin Wolf