David R. Henderson

Research Fellow
Biography: 

David R. Henderson is a research fellow with the Hoover Institution. He is also a professor of economics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Henderson's writing focuses on public policy. His specialty is in making economic issues and analyses clear and interesting to general audiences. Two themes emerge from his writing: (1) that the unintended consequences of government regulation and spending are usually worse than the problems they are supposed to solve and (2) that freedom and free markets work to solve people's problems.

David Henderson is the editor of The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (Warner Books, 2007), a book that communicates to a general audience what and how economists think. The Wall Street Journal commented, "His brainchild is a tribute to the power of the short, declarative sentence." The encyclopedia went through three printings and was translated into Spanish and Portuguese. It is now online at the Library of Economics and Liberty. He coauthored Making Great Decisions in Business and Life (2006). Henderson's book, The Joy of Freedom: An Economist's Odyssey (Financial Times Prentice Hall, 2001), has been translated into Russian. Henderson also writes frequently for the Wall Street Journal and Fortune and, from 1997 to 2000, was a monthly columnist with Red Herring, an information technology magazine. He currently serves as an adviser to LifeSharers, a nonprofit network of organ and tissue donors.

Henderson has been on the faculty of the Naval Postgraduate School since 1984 and a research fellow with Hoover since 1990. He was the John M. Olin Visiting Professor with the Center for the Study of American Business at Washington University in St. Louis in 1994; a senior economist for energy and health policy with the President's Council of Economic Advisers from 1982 to 1984; a visiting professor at the University of Santa Clara from 1980 to 1981; a senior policy analyst with the Cato Institute from 1979 to 1980; and an assistant professor at the University of Rochester's Graduate School of Management from 1975 to 1979.

In 1997, he received the Rear Admiral John Jay Schieffelin Award for excellence in teaching from the Naval Postgraduate School. In 1984, he won the Mencken Award for best investigative journalism article for his Fortune article "The Myth of MITI."

Henderson has written for the New York Times, Barron's, Fortune, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Public Interest, the Christian Science Monitor, National Review, the New York Daily News, the Dallas Morning News, and Reason. He has also written scholarly articles for the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, the Journal of Monetary Economics, Cato Journal, Regulation, Contemporary Policy Issues, and Energy Journal.

Henderson has spoken before a wide variety of audiences, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, the St. Louis Discussion Club, the Commonwealth Club of California (National Defense and Business Economics Section), the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation. He has also spoken to economists and general audiences at many universities around the country, including Carnegie-Mellon, Brown, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, Davis, the University of Rochester, the University of Chicago, Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School, and the Hoover Institution. He has given papers at annual conferences held by the American Economics Association, the Western Economics Association, and the Association of Public Policy and Management. He has testified before the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. He has also appeared on the O'Reilly Factor (Fox News), C-SPAN, CNN, the Newshour with Jim Lehrer, CNBC Squawk Box, MSNBC, BBC, CBC, the Fox News Channel, RT, and regional talk shows.

Born and raised in Canada, Henderson earned his bachelor of science degree in mathematics from the University of Winnipeg in 1970 and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1976.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Buckley On Churchill

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, August 27, 2018

As I mentioned in a previous post, earlier this summer I read large parts of A Torch Kept Lit, William F. Buckley Jr.’s book of obituaries of the famous and not so famous. I had planned to post on his obituary of Winston Churchill, which I found, not being a big fan of Churchill myself, pleasantly surprising.

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson On McCain's Foreign Policy

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, August 26, 2018

I want to start by quoting from a Republican congressman’s speech on the floor of the House of Representatives. He gave this speech in opposition to his own Republican President’s decision to keep troops in Iraq. I quote him because his speech essentially sums up my opinion.

Analysis and Commentary

A Partial Appreciation Of Ayn Rand

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, August 24, 2018
I’ve read a lot of criticisms of Ayn Rand’s personality and I’ve written some of them myself. I’m not taking any of them back: I think my criticisms and many others are well-founded.
Analysis and Commentary

Sobering Social Security Statistics

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, August 24, 2018

Despite these intensifying annual warnings, lawmakers have not acted. One reason they have not is the presence of an accounting phenomenon known as the Social Security trust funds. The assets held by these combined trust funds appear massive ($2.9 trillion in the latest report) while the projected date of their depletion seems to be distant (2034). 

Analysis and Commentary

Trump Just Shocked Me

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, August 23, 2018

Here’s Brendan Kirby reporting on a segment from President Donald Trump’s speech last night in West Virginia: “You know, I’d rather have fake news like CNN,” he said, waving toward the bank of reporters in front of him. “I would rather have fake news — it’s true — than have anybody, including liberals, socialists, anything, than have anybody stopped and censored.”

Analysis and Commentary

Who Blew Up Congress?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

They deliberately fought against becoming “institutionalized”—that is, against placing the good of the institution above immediate policy considerations. As Paul Tsongas (D-Mass,) put it, the Class of ’74 sought to “resist integration into the House for the time being,” acting not within the institutional structure but outside of it. Rather than working through the existing institutional structures, such as committees and party caucuses, they formed their own groups and sought to undermine the existing structures. 

Analysis and Commentary

Think On The Margin In Airport Lines

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, August 20, 2018

Earlier this month, I went to the Winnipeg airport to fly home. One sign of a good vacation, for me at least, is that I’m so relaxed at the end that I forget to check carefully what time my flight leaves. I did that this year. For some reason, I had etched in my mind the idea that my flight from Winnipeg to Denver left at 4:30 p.m. So I took one last somewhat leisurely visit with my friend and mentor, Clancy Smith. At about 2:10 p.m., I left his house to stop at a drug store to find chocolate bars that I have trouble finding in the United States. I dropped off my car at the Winnipeg airport and got to the United kiosk just shy of 2:55 p.m. Lots of time, I thought.

Analysis and Commentary

Bill Gates Makes Classic Error

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, August 17, 2018

Harvard economics professor Greg Mankiw quotes from a recent book review by Bill Gates: By the second semester of my freshman year at Harvard, I had started going to classes I wasn’t signed up for, and had pretty much stopped going to any of the classes I was signed up for – except for an introduction to economics class called “Ec 10.” I was fascinated by the subject, and the professor was excellent.

Analysis and Commentary

A Torch Kept Lit

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, August 16, 2018

A long-time friend gave a copy of William F. Buckley, Jr.’s A Torch Kept Well Lit to his daughter, who is in her late 20s. My friend has a Ph.D. in economics from UCLA and is a successful businessman. His wife used to be a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Ideas and books are discussed a lot in their household.

Analysis and Commentary

Perverse Insurance Regulation

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

In Leslie Scism, “The Problem With Government Flood Insurance,” Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2018 (print edition), an interview with Evan Greenberg, CEO of Chubb, Scism asks: Will state insurance departments approve the large rate increases that insurers may feel necessary for homeowners if extreme weather leads to higher claims costs?

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