John Irons's Blog


Economic News, Data and Analysis


About this Website

This website contains economics news, data, and analysis, as well as various other economics related services. My name is John Irons and I am currently the Research and Policy Director at the Economic Policy Institute, a DC-based think tank. (This is a personal web site, and statements on this site do not necessarily represent the views or policies of EPI.)

I was formerly the director of tax and budget policy at the Center for American Progress, and before that a senior economic research and policy analyst, and Staff Economist at OMB Watch, a Washington DC nonprofit organization. And prior to that, I was an economics professor at Amherst College. I have a B.A. in economics from Swarthmore College and a Ph.D. in economics from MIT.
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  • In July, 2005, named a Top 5 Economics Blog
  • In March, 2003, named a Top 5 Economics Blog (Ranked #2).
  • In May, 2003, was a selection in The Scout Report (v9.n18), May 19, 2003 in the Research and Education section.
  • In October, 2002, Argmax was cited in MSNBC’s, Blogspotting: Best of Blogs.
  • While I was at, The Economist magazine ranked the economics section as a
    top 5 economics website (3.1999), and International Thomson Business Press ranked it the
    number 1 economics website calling it the “Best of the Best”.

Click to see more reviews and awards.


You can email me at



John S. Irons, Ph.D., is the Research and Policy Director at the Economic Policy Institute. His areas of research include the U.S. economy and economic policy, with an emphasis on federal tax and budget policy. Previously, he was the Director of Tax and Budget Policy at The Center for American Progress. Prior to joining the Center, he was a Senior Economic Research and Policy Analyst and Staff Economist at OMB Watch, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting government accountability and citizen participation. Prior to coming to Washington D.C., Dr. Irons was a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Economics at Amherst College. He has also worked at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and briefly at the Brookings Institution and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Dr. Irons’ academic publications have appeared in several Journals including the Journal of Monetary Economics, Journal of Applied Econometrics, Review of Financial Economics and the Eastern Economic Journal. He is co-editor (with N. Ericsson) of Testing Exogeneity, published by Oxford University Press. He has authored numerous reports and articles on tax and budget policy, as well as on the economy. He has been quoted in numerous national and local print publications and has appeared on TV and radio programs (including CNN, CNBC, and Bloomberg) commenting on various economic policy issues. He has been a guest lecturer and has presented research at many colleges and universities including American University, Harvard University, Middlebury College, MIT, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, and others.

Dr. Irons was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, as well as a Graduate Fellowship from the Harvard/MIT Research Training Group in Positive Political Economy. He has won several awards for his economics websites, including top-5 awards from The Economist and Forbes. He has been an occasional “econo-blogger” at the Wall Street Journal.

He currently serves on the Committee on Electronic Publishing of the American Economic Association, and has served on the board of nonprofit institutions, including the Coalition on Human Needs. He was recently elected to the Board of Governors of the National Economists Club.

Dr. Irons holds a B.A. with High Honors in economics from Swarthmore College, and a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

What is “ArgMax”?

ArgMax is a mathematical term used to designate the “argument of the maximum” of a given function.

More specifically, the argmax of a function, f, with respect to an argument x which can take values in a set X is:

argmax f(x) = {x* in X | f(x*) >= f(x) for all x in X}

x in X

Economists often make the assumption that firms maximize profits, or that people maximize their wellbeing. So the argmax notation is convenient in describing the optimal choice of firms and people.
Here’s An Example.

Copyright and Credits

This site is primarily powered by PHP and MySQL, with a little JavaScript thrown in for good measure.
The Blog is generated with Movabletype.
The directory of economists and the ‘Bots are my own creation, so comments and suggestions are welcome.
This site is &copy Copyright 1997-, by John S. Irons, Virginia, USA. All rights reserved.
Please see the User Agreement and Privacy Statement page for site policies.


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