History of Economic Thought
A highly-sought expert, Isabella Weber burst onto the international scene when she authored an op-ed for The Guardian explaining how price caps could help alleviate the economic crisis Germany faced from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The suggestion sharply divided economic experts and led to a campaign of online harassment against the economist, including from a Nobel laureate. The harassment slowed after other renowned economists stepped into the conversation to defend Weber. Ultimately, in an effort to slow inflation, German authorities did decide to implement energy price cap measures suggested by Weber.
Weber also proposed that inflation following the pandemic and Russian invasion of Ukraine were the results of sellers' inflation, or businesses taking advantage of disruptions in the supply chain to raise prices.
Weber was named to the 2023 “TIME100 Next” list of emerging leaders from around the world, was been included in Bloomberg Businessweek’s “Bloomberg 50 ‘Ones to Watch’” list for 2022, and was named one of Germany’s “100 Women of the Year” for 2022 by FOCUS, one of the country’s largest news magazines.
The New School for Social Research: Ph.D., Economcs
University of Cambridge: Ph.D., Development Studies
The New School for Social Research: M.A., Economics
Freie Universität Berlin: B.A., Political Science (with Economics minor)
Select Media Coverage (12)
How the U.S. Government Could Lower Food Prices for Everyone
Isabella Weber comments about a recent decision by a French supermarket chain to stop selling PepsiCo products, citing PepsiCo’s unacceptable price increases. “The only way to avoid repeated episodes of sellers’ inflation of the type we have experienced is for companies to find that there is a real cost to price hikes, [but] for this kind of strategy to be effective, more countries have to follow the French example,” Weber says.
The World’s Top Thinkers 2024: ideas for a world on the brink
An article including Isabella Weber among the World's Top. Thinks for 2024 says, "Isabella Weber can make a good claim to being one of the more influential economists of the past few years, and certainly one of the most prescient. Her willingness to challenge economic orthodoxies with robust, historically informed analysis justifies her inclusion on this list."
UMass Amherst Economist Isabella Weber Named to ‘TIME100 Next’
Isabella Weber has been named to the 2023 “TIME100 Next” list of emerging leaders from around the world. Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren writes in the “TIME100 Next” article: “Weber correctly identified how the Fed’s extreme interest-rate hikes are ill-suited to address this profiteering, arguing it should pause its increases before throwing millions out of work. Our nation needs structural changes to promote competition and investment, and Weber’s bold ideas are helping shift the economic paradigm.”
What if We’re Thinking About Inflation All Wrong?
The New Yorker print
Isabella Weber is profiled in an article describing how her controversial proposal to implement price controls as a way to combat inflation went from being scorned by some of the world’s leading economists to an accepted practice in key economic sectors, particularly in Europe.
'Greedflation': A once fringe theory of inflation gains momentum
A pandemic, war in Ukraine, supply chain breakdowns — all led to soaring prices. Some of those forces have eased, but prices haven't. Economist Isabella has a theory about this. She calls it 'sellers’ inflation.' "This was considered kind of fringe idea. Because I think it in many ways doesn’t fit with the macroeconomic framework that economists tend to have on their minds," Isabella Weber says.
Lone voice on inflation grows louder
The Times of London print
Isabella Weber is profiled in an article focusing on the harassment and threats she received after publishing an article in late 2021 suggesting that surging energy prices after the end of COVID-19 lockdowns could be countered by price controls, mimicking interventionist policies in the U.S. and U.K. after the Second World War.
The Fed isn’t the only inflation fighter
"It's not enough to simply raise interest rates and push down the whole economy, you have to start thinking about measures that target the sectors that are important for inflation," says Isabella Weber, an economist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who worked with the German government on its energy price policy.
Europe’s $1 Trillion Energy Bill Only Marks Start of the Crisis
BNN Bloomberg online
“Given the potentially enormous political and social repercussions of the energy price explosion and the shock to the backbone of the German economy, it is important for the German government to step in,” said Isabella Weber, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who’s known as the inventor of Germany’s gas price break.
The 100 Women of the Year
FOCUS Magazine online
"They have inspired, encouraged and pushed boundaries. Often against all odds. Get to know women who also raise their voices for others. The world of economics is sometimes seen as stubborn and conservative. Above all, male. Isabella Weber has always been an exception: the professor at the University of Massachusetts is young and unconventional. Some mocked the German for her ideas. Until the hour of the gas price cap, which Weber helped to invent, came this year. From the ridiculed to the shooting star – it can go that fast.
Isabella Weber On Germany's Plan to Cap the Price of Gas
Bloomberg Odd Lots Podcast online
"We speak with Isabella Weber, economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who has been serving on an independent government commission in Germany to formulate a plan to ease the burden. We discuss her work and how price controls in energy play out in practice."
Inflation has helped decide elections worldwide. Here's what that means for the midterms.
ABC News tv
“When essential prices explode in ways that people can’t pay them anymore, it’s like some basic social contract breaks,” Isabella Weber, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts told ABC News.
The woman who invented the price cap
Spiegel profiles UMass Amherst professor Isabella Weber: "The Woman Who Invented the Price Cap" Should the state regulate energy prices during the crisis? "Simply stupid," tweeted Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman about this suggestion by young economist Isabella Weber. Today, the federal government is also following her advice.
Select Publications (3)
The way to fight inflation without rising interest rates and a recessionThe Washington Post
Meg Jacobs and Isabella M. Weber
"Inflation and the looming danger of a recession are the most urgent economic and political issues of our day, driven by price explosions in essential goods like energy and food. But the Federal Reserve, despite its responsibility for price stability, has no tools to contain these skyrocketing prices. Instead the Fed has already repeatedly hiked interest rates. Yet even as inflation appears like it might be starting to ebb, the future trajectory remains highly uncertain in the context of war abroad and a global pandemic."
Could strategic price controls help fight inflation?The Guardian
"Today, there is once more a choice between tolerating the ongoing explosion of profits that drives up prices or tailored controls on carefully selected prices. Price controls would buy time to deal with bottlenecks that will continue as long as the pandemic prevails. Strategic price controls could also contribute to the monetary stability needed to mobilize public investments towards economic resilience, climate change mitigation and carbon-neutrality."
BOOK: How China Escaped Shock TherapyRoutledge
Isabella M. Weber
China has become deeply integrated into the world economy. Yet, gradual marketization has facilitated the country’s rise without leading to its wholesale assimilation to global neoliberalism. This book uncovers the fierce contest about economic reforms that shaped China’s path. In the first post-Mao decade, China’s reformers were sharply divided.