U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew is scheduled to speak about the state of the economy in Mountain View this week – a move that experts say emphasizes the role of Silicon Valley in national economics.
Ward Hanson, policy forum director for the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, said he thinks the event is intended to emphasize the President Barack Obama administration’s push for middle class economic growth.
“This will be the administration amplifying their perspective for middle class growth,” he said.Hanson added that technology provides a two-edged sword in terms of growth, however, which he thinks Lew will address.
“One feeling is that it’s at the heart of economic growth potential and ... the rebirth of some forms of manufacturing,” he said. “But the other side of the sword is the idea that not everybody benefits equally.”
Hanson said there is a lot of concern economically that technology rewards highly skilled and low skilled workers but not the middle.
“It’s U-shaped benefits, and that’s a problem,” he said. “They have to look at ‘what can we do to spread benefits to the middle class?’”
The press release states that Lew plans to discuss recent efforts to strengthen economic recovery, address economic realities like the need for Washington to avoid “self-inflicted wounds” and highlight Obama’s plan to strengthen the middle class through developing innovative technologies at home.
Adam Lashinsky of Fortune Magazine will moderate a discussion following Lew’s remarks, according to the press release.
Thomas Fehrenbach, economic development manager for the city of Palo Alto, said he thinks Silicon Valley an example of how the “knowledge economy” drives national development.
“The ecosystem here is what’s really special, and what people are trying to replicate,” Fehrenbach said. “I think (Lew speaking is) important because not only are we a regional job creator and example of innovation changing the economy, but also it’s how we’re driving that innovation.”
Lew will tour the AT&T Foundry in Palo Alto while he is in the area.
Hanson added that he would be surprised if Lew is not also meeting with Silicon Valley leaders, though it may not be publicized.“He’s coming out of a more budgetary perspective … so this will be a nice way for him to broaden his base of contacts by talking with leaders in Silicon Valley,” Hanson said. “And that’s probably a good thing.”