Paul W. McCracken | Economic adviser, 96

Posted: August 05, 2012

Paul W. McCracken, 96, a former economic adviser to several U.S. presidents, died Friday in Ann Arbor, Mich.

He was a member of President Dwight Eisenhower's Council of Economic Advisers and later chair of the council under President Richard M. Nixon.

Dr. McCracken was professor emeritus of business administration, economics, and public policy at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. An announcement of his death on the school's website said Nixon once wrote that during his first term he depended on Dr. McCracken "for his incisive intellect and his hardheaded pragmatism."

"He was a key adviser during a crucial time in our nation's history," Nixon wrote in 1985.

Between Eisenhower and Nixon's administrations, Dr. McCracken served on a domestic economic task force under President John F. Kennedy and on the Commission on Budget Concepts for President Lyndon Johnson.

Dr. McCracken resigned from the Council of Economic Advisers in late 1971. By that time, he and Nixon had disagreed over price and wage controls.

"I thought price controls were a bad idea for a very simple reason. You couldn't look back into history and point to a success story," Dr. McCracken said. "At the time, the president and Congress were involved in a battle in the political domain. Political battles are often more important to them than hard, solid data."

Dr. McCracken later served as senior consultant to Treasury Secretary William E. Simon in 1974 and 1975 and chaired the International Committee of Economists and the Academic Advisory Board for the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, according to the Ross School.

An Iowa native, Dr. McCracken earned his bachelor's degree from what now is William Penn University. He earned and his master's and doctorate from Harvard University.

He worked as economist and research director for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis before affiliating with University of Michigan.

He retired from teaching in 1986, but continued to meet with students and other faculty on the school's campus. - AP

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