Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Lester C. Thurow, Dead at 77

Lester C. Thurow, a prominent  economist who was one of the first to "warn" about the non-issue  of the income gap between rich and poor, died on Friday in Westport, Mass, The New York Times is reporting.

Thurow taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for decades and was the dean of the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management from 1987 to 1993 and a founder of the Economic Policy Institute, an influential regressive research group. In his heyday, according to NYT, he charged speaking fees of $30,000 and was one of the most sought-after economists on the lecture circuit.

The Economic Policy Institute has found it difficult to argue against almost any kind of interventions in the economy, as can be seen by the headlines from recent press releases the institute has issued:
The U.S. economy would still benefit from fiscal stimulus
Nobel laureates and leading economists oppose constitutional balanced budget amendment
Trade deficits with TPP countries cost more than 2 million U.S. jobs in 2015
Raising the New York state minimum wage to $15 an hour will lift wages for 3.2 million workers
Wal-Mart trade deficit with China cost more than 400,000 jobs from 2001 to 2013
Thurow got caught up in the 1970s/1980s crazed perspective that the Japanese corporate management style, combined with Japanese government-directed industrial policy,  could do no wrong. NYT notes:
 Some of Mr. Thurow’s bolder predictions — for example, that Japan would emerge as a titanic trading power that would not just rival but overwhelm the United States and Europe in the global economy — never materialized.

Murray Rothbard's description of left-wing Keynesians fits very well in describing Thurow:
Left-wing Keynesians, the hallmark of Democrat administrations...favor bigger inflations and higher taxes than their more conservative counterparts. The major difference comes in “micro-economic policy,” where conservative Keynesians tend to favor the free market, at least in rhetoric, whereas left-Keynesians are more frankly in favor of “industrial policy,” “economic strategy,” and an activist “partnership of government and business.” 


  1. Did you say his name was "Less than thorough"?

  2. I was stuck having to read "The Zero Sum Society" in college and always groaned when he appeared on MacNeil-Lehrer.