John Fernald of INSEAD Business School joined us on November 20, 2023, for his talk, “Productivity During and After the Pandemic.”
This paper reviews how productivity has evolved around the world since the pandemic began in 2020. Productivity in many countries has been volatile. We conclude that the broad contours of productivity growth during this period have been heavily shaped by predictable cyclical patterns. Looking at U.S. industry data, we find little evidence that the sharp rise in telework has had a notable impact, good or bad, on productivity. Stepping back, the data so far appear consistent with a continuation of the slow-productivity-growth trajectory that we faced before the pandemic.
John Fernald is the Schroders Chair in European Competitiveness and Reform and a Professor of Economics at INSEAD Business School. He is also a senior research adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (on leave). Mr. Fernald has an A.B. and Ph.D. from Harvard and an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics.
Mr. Fernald is an applied macroeconomist with a focus on U.S. and global productivity trends as well as emerging Asia. The Economist called him “…the foremost authority on American productivity figures,” and The Wall Street Journal referred to him as “the Fed’s point man on productivity.” He has published in journals such as the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, and the Journal of Monetary Economics.