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A True Scholar

Martin Feldstein, 1939–2019

Martin Feldstein at the Reuters Investment Outlook Summit, June 2008 Reuters / Brendan McDermid

Martin Feldstein, one of the world’s great economists, passed away on June 11, at the age of 79. To the general public, he was best known as the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Ronald Reagan, as well as the author of hundreds of popular opinion pieces and a frequent commentator on public policy. During his tenure at the CEA in the early 1980s, Feldstein was famously willing to take principled stands when he disagreed with his boss, as when he argued that Reagan-era deficits might come at a cost in terms of lower public and private investment. As a public intellectual, he was a rare moderate voice. During the 2008 financial crisis, for instance, he strongly argued for higher government spending rather than tax cuts to stimulate the economy, even though his own research suggested that cutting taxes would lead to higher long-run growth. Similarly, although he firmly

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