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  • NYS Writers Institute

Telling the Truth 2020: Allison Schrager and Michael Strain

Welcome to Day 5 of Telling the Truth 2020, the New York State Writers Institute's virtual symposium on politics, tribalism, polarization, and the future of democracy.

Allison Schrager and Michael Strain

Bridging the Political Divide: Leading Thinkers of the Center Right

Casey B. Mulligan served as the Chief Economist of President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers (Sept. 2018-Aug. 2019). His new book is You’re Hired!: Untold Successes and Failures of a Populist President (SepAllison Schrager, financial economist and expert on risk, is the author of An Economist Walks into a Brothel (2019), a fun and provocative examination of the nature of risk in a variety of settings, from poker and horse racing to sex work and surfing in shark-infested waters. A Financial Times book of the month, it has been called "the most entertaining book on risk management ever written" (Booklist). Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert C. Merton called it "delightful," and said, "Whether a complete novice or a seasoned risk professional, the reader is in for a treat." Schrager is Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a leading conservative, free-market think tank, where her research focuses on public finance, pensions, tax policy, labor markets, and monetary policy. She is also a contributing editor to that organization's public policy magazine, City Journal, and a regular contributor to The Economist, Reuters and Bloomberg Businessweek. A self-described "pension geek," she is a cofounder of the risk advisory firm, LifeCycle Finance Partners, and previously led retirement product innovation at Dimensional Fund Advisors. More at Michael Strain, economist and Bloomberg Opinion columnist, is the author of the 2020 book, The American Dream is Not Dead (But Populism Could Kill It), which presents the argument that "there has never been a better time to be alive in America." Writing in The Washington Post, George Will called it, "An inoculation against politically motivated misinformation," and President Clinton's Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said "[this] important book is a welcome antidote to the pervasive pessimism surrounding economic policy debates." The National Review named Strain "the most important conservative reformer," and David Brooks of the New York Times has called his work "the most coherent and compelling policy agenda the American right has produced this century." Strain is Director of Economic Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. In addition to Bloomberg, his work has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Weekly Standard. He also appears regularly on NPR's "Marketplace," MSNBC and CNBC.


“It’s our hope that Telling the Truth 2020 will be a force for good and will provide a public service by bringing together experts with a wide range of perspective. We want these events to be conversations of healing, of finding common ground, and of listening respectfully to viewpoints different than our own. We hope this weeklong symposium will build bridges of empathy rather than erecting more walls of fear and hatred.”

-- Paul Grondahl, Director of the NYS Writers Institute.

All events are free and open to the public. No registration required.

Events will be available at ​Videos will premiere at 11 a.m. and can be viewed at your convenience at any time following their launch. Many of the conversations were recorded before Election Day. More at at

Telling the Truth 2020 is the Writers Institute’s third major event of the fall season, following the Albany Book Festival in September and the Time for Reckoning Symposium in October. It is also the third time the Institute has turned its attention to issues of truth-telling, journalism, and ethics. A three-day Telling the Truth in a Post-Truth World event was held in 2017 and Telling the Truth: A Symposium on the Craft of Nonfiction took place in 1991.

Telling the Truth 2020 is presented by the New York State Writers Institute with special thanks to The Maguire Family Endowment at the NYSWI, The Opalka Family Endowment, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at the University at Albany, The University at Albany Foundation, and WAMC Northeast Public Radio.


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