Business History Review

Research Article

The Council of Economic Advisers and the Recession of 1953–1954*

Saul Engelbourga1

a1 Associate Professor of History, Boston University


As the American economy, for the second time since the end of World War II, seemed about to falter in late 1953, the nation watched closely to see what economic policy the first Republican administration in twenty years would adopt. A new factor was the Council of Economic Advisers, whose professional economists, mild conservatives though they were, had long since adopted Keynesian compensatory spending as the new orthodoxy. Government spending was increased very moderately and once again the severe postwar downturn that Americans had been expecting for nearly a decade failed to develop. The credit went to Keynesianism and the Council but, as Professor Engelbourg emphasizes, whether another policy or no policy at all would have produced different results, is beyond our knowing.


* I would like to thank Arthur F. Burns, H. Scott Gordon, Neil H. Jacoby, and Barbara Solow; of, course, any errors are mine alone.