Greenspan pushes for more highly skilled worker visas

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Expanding H-1B Visa Program For Skilled Workers Could Grow US Economy, Alan Greenspan Says.

The United States should open up its H-1B visa program to more workers to grow the economy and boost productivity, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Thursday. “Every other major country looks to the quality of whom they’re inviting in, and we’re not doing that.

We‘re restricting that very significantly,” he said in response to a question from Steve Liesman, a senior economics reporter at CNBC who presided over the discussion. “So the answer to your question is yes, I mean, if you really want to increase productivity, we would really open that program up. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, as well as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who he remarked created changes to the economy that the opposition Labour Party did not change when it returned to power. The Fed pushed the federal funds rate up a quarter of a point from the near-zero levels where it had been, and Greenspan said the markets generally reacted positively because economists had been expecting the U.S. central bank to raise rates for some time. “The only question that was out there was what was going to happen substantively,” Greenspan said. “As it became apparent that the Fed was going to just raise the rates and not do a whole series of rates … the uncertainty was gone.” He added that when he was Fed chairman, he also had to navigate whether to surprise the markets with rate increases or give some notice on what he was doing. Greenspan, who served as chairman of the Fed from 1987 to 2006, was originally seen as a “rock star” economist, but has more recently been blamed for building up the housing bubble that led to the financial crisis after his term.

Greenspan focused on U.S. monetary policy and productivity during his Thursday talk, emphasizing that the country’s spending on entitlement programs is out of control. He said he has a generally pessimistic view of the U.S. economy over the next decade if lawmakers do not find a way to “come to grips” with entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare. The former Fed chairman has called on the U.S. to let in skilled immigrants before, and has even said that illegal immigration contributes to economic growth by providing a flexible workforce. When asked about the 2016 presidential campaign’s focus on immigration and visa programs, Greenspan joked, “What makes you think I listen to it?”

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