A Public Interview of Arnold C. Harberger
October 13, 2016

The Academic Department of Economics organized a public interview with Arnold Harberger, currently a professor at the University of California in Los Angeles and a Doctor Honoris Causa of our institution. Among the presenters were Dr. Francisco Gil Díaz and ITAM’S rector, Dr. Arturo Fernández Pérez.

The Rector considers Arnold Harberger an inspiring person who has concentrated on the importance of solving the practical problems of fiscal macroeconomic policy and development policies. “Alito ─as he is fondly referred to by his students─ has returned back to his home, ITAM,” stated Dr. Fernández.

Arnold Harberger mentioned that he has always perceived the economy as a tool for the betterment of society, a belief held by David Ricardo and Adam Smith. He also stated that there were two elements necessary to the implementation of public policies: firstly, it must be based on economic fundamentals and secondly, economic policy is formulated by a committee seldom made up of doctors in economics, thus it is important that this group of people receive clear explanations and intuitive interpretations of economic concepts.  One of his legacies to ITAM is on “project evaluation”, which according to the Rector, our government spends 27% of our gross domestic product.  The questions here are what type of projects are approved and how is public money utilized.  These are relevant questions since the financing of these projects depends on the earnings of the Mexican people who have had to sacrifice their levels of spending for this purpose. The evaluation of projects is significant because sometimes we invest in projects with negative rates of return which impoverish our nation.  Therefore, thanks to the inspiring Arnold Harberger, our institute teaches a course in Social Evaluation of Projects and it has a Center for Project Evaluation, stated Dr. Arturo Fernández.