Herbert Stein

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Herbert Stein (August 27, 1916 - September 8, 1999) was a renowned economist for the Nixon and Ford administrations. In the 1940s, he proposed using the federal budget deficits to regulate the economy— a view was regarded as "unnatural" by many at that time.[1] This view was held by proponents of the Keynesian model of economics, which was responsible for the stagflation of the 1970s.[2] He is the father of noted TV and movie personality Ben Stein.


Stein enrolled in Williams College shortly before he turned 16. After working as an economist in Washington D.C., he received his PhD in economics from the University of Chicago. After serving on the Council of Economic Advisers (see below), he became a professor at the University of Virginia.


Stein's most famous contribution to the American economic system was accomplished in the 1940s, by suggesting the use of the federal budget deficits to regulate the economy. At the time, the business lobby was very hesitant to accept such government intervention and the Keynesian system as a whole. He convinced them that there were no ideological reasons not to accept the system as a whole, according to Robert Solow, a Nobel Laureate economist.

He served on the Council of Economic Advisers from 1969-1974, serving as chairman from 1972 on. As Chairman, he helped develop the 90-day wage and price freeze of 1971 to combat the economic difficulties the United States was facing.[3] He later served as a contributor to the Wall Street Journal until his death in 1999 from heart failure.


Stein authored many books and papers regarding economics:

  • The Fiscal Revolution in America (1969)
  • Presidential Economics: The Making of Economic Policy From Roosevelt to Reagan and Beyond (1984)
  • Washington Bedtime Stories: The Politics of Money and Jobs (1986)
  • Tax Policy in the Twenty-First Century (1988)
  • Governing the $5 Trillion Economy: A Twentieth Century Fund Essay (1989)
  • On The Other Hand... Reflections on Economics, Economists, and Politics (1995)
  • What I Think: Essays on Economics, Politics, and Life (1999)


  1. New York Times Online (September 9, 1999):Herbert Stein, Nixon Adviser and Economist, Is Dead at 83
  2. 'A Review of Keynesian Theory
  3. Encyclopedia Britannica