Michael J. Boskin

Wohlford Family Senior Fellow

Michael J. Boskin is the Wohlford Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Tully M. Friedman Professor of Economics at Stanford.  He is also Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research.  In addition, he advises governments and businesses globally.

He served as Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) from 1989 to 1993, when he helped resolve the Third World Debt and Saving and Loan financial crises, and place the first effective controls on government spending while protecting the defense budget.  His CEA was rated by the Council for Excellence in Government as one of the five most respected agencies in the federal government.  Earlier, on Presidential Candidate Reagan’s Tax Policy Task Force, he helped develop the policies that substantially lowered marginal tax rates, indexed tax brackets for inflation, accelerated depreciation, and created IRAs and 401ks, the economic rationale for which was predicated on his research on the effects of taxes on saving.  He later chaired the highly influential blue-ribbon Commission on the Consumer Price Index, whose report has transformed the way government statistical agencies around the world measure inflation, GDP and productivity. 

Boskin serves on several corporate and philanthropic boards of directors, including Exxon Mobil Corporation and Oracle Corporation.

In addition to Stanford and the University of California, Boskin has taught at Harvard and Yale. He is the author of more than one hundred and fifty books and articles. He is internationally recognized for his research on world economic growth, tax and budget theory and policy, US saving and consumption patterns, and the implications of changing technology and demography on capital, labor, and product markets. His op-eds appear regularly in the Wall Street Journal and other leading newspapers. He also writes a bimonthly column on global economics syndicated in 145 countries.

Boskin has received numerous professional awards and citations, including Stanford's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1988, the National Association of Business Economists' Abramson Award for outstanding research and its Distinguished Fellow Award, the Medal of the President of the Italian Republic in 1991 for his contributions to global economic understanding, and the 1998 Adam Smith Prize for outstanding contributions to economics.

Boskin received his BA with highest honors and the Chancellor's Award as outstanding undergraduate in 1967 from the University of California at Berkeley, where he also received his MA in 1968 and his PhD in 1971.

His research papers are available at the Hoover Institution Archives or his personal website.

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Recent Commentary

Capitalism and Its Discontents

by Michael J. Boskinvia Hoover Digest
Saturday, October 30, 1999

Socialism and central planning do not work. Capitalism and free markets do. Hoover fellow Michael J. Boskin on the outcome of one of the most important debates of the century.

Inflated Expectations for the Fed

by Michael J. Boskinvia Hoover Digest
Saturday, October 30, 1999

Hoover fellow Michael J. Boskin believes the public asks too much of the Fed, expecting Alan Greenspan to keep the good times rolling on his own. Here Boskin explains why responsibility for sound economic policy still lies overwhelmingly with Congress and the president—and details what they must do to keep our economy growing.

Capitalism and its Discontents: The Adam Smith Address

by Michael J. Boskinvia Analysis
Thursday, July 1, 1999

A review of episodes in economic and intellectual history indicates the superiority of a limited government market economy over the alternative models of economic organization. The siren calls of pundits, politicians, and even some economists in favor of communist central planning during the Great Depression; market socialism after World War II; and, more recently, massive welfare states and/or extensive government micromanagement of markets each ran afoul of their own problems and comparisons to the limited government (based on sound criteria) capitalist model. The limited government capitalist model, once again under attack from those who would greatly expand the role of government, needs its defenders, as the alternative models have proven historically, intellectually, and practically bankrupt.

SOCIAL INSECURITY: Reforming Social Security

with David R. Henderson, Michael J. Boskin, Dean Bakervia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, September 14, 1998

What is wrong--if anything--with the Social Security system today? What plans exist to fix it? Michael Boskin, Hoover Institution Senior Fellow and T. M. Friedman Professor, Department of Economics, Stanford University, David R. Henderson, Hoover Institution Research Fellow and professor, Department of Economics, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, and Dean Baker, Senior Economist, Economic Policy Institute and Co-author of Social Security: The Phony Crisis discuss the future of social security.

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How the Tigers Lost Their Tale

by Michael J. Boskinvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, April 30, 1998

The tale of Southeast Asia has been one of unremitting economic success—until now. Hoover fellow and former Chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers Michael J. Boskin on what went wrong and what it means for the United States.

Some Thoughts on Improving Economic Statistics

by Michael J. Boskinvia Analysis
Thursday, January 1, 1998

The rapid pace of change in the American economy is straining the ability of the statistical system to measure economic performance accurately. Millions of daily private economic decisions rely on government economic statistics. Economic statistics also drive public policy. The Federal Reserve relies on economic statistics to formulate monetary policy. The formulation of the budget outlook and tax and budget policy responses to it are affected by economic statistics. Many programs and tax code features are tied explicitly to economic statistics, for example, the cost-of-living allowance (COLA) tied to the consumer price index (CPI) for Social Security, tax brackets, and so on.

Among the areas where economic statistics can and should be improved are the following: (1) the growth of hard-to-measure services; (2) the timely introduction and valuation of new products; (3) quality change in goods and services (e.g., health care); (4) technology, human capital, research and development, innovation and ideas whose measurements are incomplete, at times primitive, at best piecemeal; (5) workers and households' use of time and health status; (6) international trade and finance; (7) the formation, growth, and failure of new firms; (8) financial innovation and changing payment methods; (9) changes in the organization of production and distribution.

The essay makes eleven recommendations for improving the quality of the economic statistics, ranging from methods to deal with new products and quality change to dealing with the trade-off between timeliness and accuracy to consistency across statistics, agencies, and the private sector to organizational issues including the appropriate division between private and public collection and dissemination of data. Such changes would improve the measurement of economic statistics from national income to inflation to measures of household well-being. The returns from such improvements are likely to be substantial, ranging from better early signals for monetary policy to more accurate COLAs to more accurate economic information on which citizens depend not only for their own private decisions but for understanding and evaluating the nation's economic progress.

Inflation and Its Discontents

by Michael J. Boskinvia Analysis
Saturday, November 1, 1997

This essay discusses the inflation of the 1970s and the disinflations of the 1980s and 1990s. It provides historical and intellectual history perspectives on these events. It argues that the consensus view of economists on inflation and its costs has changed more than on any other subject in the past thirty years. As late as 1980, many economists argued that the cost of inflation was low and that the cost of disinflation so great that it was better to live with 10 or 12 percent inflation than bear the temporarily higher unemployment and lost output that would accompany a disinflation.

Fortunately, Federal Reserve Board chairmen Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan engineered two rounds of disinflation, first from 12.0 percent to 4.5 percent and then to 2.5 percent. Although there were costs--a severe recession in 1981–82 and a not-so-soft landing in 1990–91--the low and relatively stable inflation of the 1980s and 1990s has been a major factor in a long boom in the United States, two long expansions interrupted by a short, mild recession. And economists' thinking about the costs and consequences of high inflation has shifted to the view that stable low inflation, like the lowest possible tax rates and minimum necessary regulation, is a fundamental pillar of maximizing sustained long-run growth.

How the Fed Slew Inflation

by Michael J. Boskinvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, July 30, 1997

Plenty of economists doubted that it could be done, but the Federal Reserve Board managed to cut inflation from the double-digit rates of the 1970s to the modest single-digit rates of today. Hoover fellow Michael J. Boskin explains how Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan slew the dragon--and taught consensus opinion a lesson.

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Why Inflation Figures Are . . . Inflated

by Michael J. Boskinvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, April 30, 1997

The consumer price index (CPI) is one of the most important statistics the government produces. It's also one of the most misleading, badly overstating annual cost-of-living increases. Hoover fellow Michael J. Boskin, who chaired the U.S. Congressional Advisory Commission on the Consumer Price Index, explains why.

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Why the CPI Matters, Big-Time

by Michael J. Boskinvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, April 30, 1997

Overstating increases in the cost of living by even small amounts costs the federal government tens of billions of dollars every year. An excerpt from the Boskin commission's report.


Please note:

Michael Boskin has been the subject of recent attempted identity theft and hacking.  If you receive an email communication from him that seems unusual or unexpected, please verify the correspondence by contacting his office officeofmichaelboskin [at] gmail.com (subject: Hoover.org%20Boskin%20Profile%20Request) (here).