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'Genius' to headline Oregon Business Summit

Raj Chetty, an economist at Harvard University, was awarded the MacArthur 'Genius' Fellowship in 2012.

Raj ChettyThe Oregon Business Plan has roped an award-winning economist to keynote its annual summit, which draws political and business leaders from across the state every December.

Raj Chetty, an economist at Harvard University, is this year's main speaker. He was awarded the MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship in 2012 for his work on behavioral public economics.

Chetty's current work is focused on equality of opportunity; reducing poverty in the state is one of the main goals of the Oregon Business Plan.

Chetty also recently co-founded Opportunity Insights, "a research and policy institute focused on using research and big data to revive flagging economic mobility at a state and local level," according to the Oregon Business Plan.

Chetty's work has touched on some issues important to Oregon decision makers. For example, the state recently implemented an automated retirement savings plan intended for workers who don't have access to one at work; and discourse over school performance and the debt in the public pension system has reached a fever pitch.

"(Chetty) and his co-authors have used enormous data sets to calculate the value of a great kindergarten teacher ($320,000) and to show the long impact that great teachers have on their students," then-New York Times journalist Annie Lowery wrote in 2013. "Other papers have shown the inefficacy of tax breaks in increasing retirement savings and the power of automatic savings programs. And Mr. Chetty's most cited study demonstrates that consumers respond more to changes in an item's posted price than to changes in sales taxes."

The theme of this year's summit is "Time to Act." Organizers say the event "will offer our ideas on resolving Oregon's fiscal crisis and underscore the urgency of Oregon adopting policies in 2019 and beyond to stabilize costs, revenues and education investment."

The 16th annual leadership summit will be Monday, Dec. 3.