Allan H. Meltzer, Conservative Economist, Dies at 89

Under President Ronald Reagan, Dr. Meltzer was an acting member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. In its 1989 report to Congress, the council recommended that the government resist the impulse to respond to every “perceived social need” with financial intervention.

In 1999 and 2000 he was chairman of a congressional commission — informally called the Meltzer Commission — that examined how the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank had responded to the 1997-98 financial crisis, in which a sharp devaluation of Southeast Asian currencies beginning in July 1997 rippled across the global economy, affecting markets in the United States, Europe and Latin America.

In its report, the panel criticized both bodies as being bureaucratically bloated, doing more harm than good in the developing world and wasting billions of dollars making loans to middle-income countries, which it said could rely on private capital. It recommended that the I.M.F. and the World Bank be radically reduced and overhauled.

As recently as a few months ago, Dr. Meltzer opposed aiding governments and industries facing economic hardship.

His economic philosophy has found renewed favor in the Trump administration. A protégé, Adam Lerrick, who helped Dr. Meltzer with his I.M.F. and World Bank report, has been nominated as deputy under secretary for international finance in the Treasury Department.

In books like “Why Capitalism?” (2012), Dr. Meltzer promoted the view that countries and investors should suffer the consequences of their mistakes, whether flawed fiscal measures or bad lending decisions.

In coining the slogan “Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin,” he added another maxim: “Bankruptcies and losses concentrate the mind on prudent behavior.”

Allan Harold Meltzer was born on Feb. 6, 1928, in Boston to George Meltzer and the former Minerva Simon. His mother died when he was 6, and his father later remarried.

Allan attended the Boys’ Latin School and Brookline High School in Massachusetts. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Duke University in 1948 and received master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

In 1957 he became an assistant professor at the Carnegie Mellon Graduate School of Industrial Administration, later named the Tepper School of Business.

Dr. Meltzer’s economic influence stretched decades. In 1973, he helped found the private Shadow Open Market Committee with Karl Brunner of the University of Rochester. The panel offered policy recommendations to the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee.

He received many awards for his work, including the Harry Truman Medal for Public Policy and the Truman Medal for Economic Policy.

Dr. Meltzer’s conservative economic views were not without…

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