One of my former staff at the CEA takes note of this sentence:
This past year, the Council has been blessed with staff of a caliber not seen since the glory days of the CEA in the 1960s, when future Nobel laureates Robert Solow and Kenneth Arrow were senior economists and James Tobin was a member.Really? I am impressed with the current CEA staff as well, but this seems a bit of an overstatement. I wonder who on the current staff is expected to win a Nobel prize.
I am proud of the staff I put together when I was CEA chair, and I am sure other CEA chairmen are as well. Yet I would venture a guess that the post-1960s peak in the caliber of the CEA came in 1982-83. I was a junior staffer then, along with University of Chicago economist John Cochrane, but put that aside. Martin Feldstein was the chair, and the senior staff included Larry Summers and Paul Krugman. That makes three winners of the John Bates Clark Award--a feat that, I suspect, has not been repeated since.
Here is a project for some ambitious blogger: Go to old ERPs, which list the CEA members and staff, and collate them with data on citations. That would provide one way to judge objectively (albeit imperfectly) the quality of CEA economists over time.