Happy 96th Birthday, Dr. McCracken!

(Editor's Note: The following is based on a tribute first published in 2009.)

During its 23-year history, the Mackinac Center's staff and adjunct scholars have been honored by the opportunity to associate with more than a few stellar intellectual luminaries. Of these, perhaps none shines more brightly than Mackinac Center adjunct scholar and supporter Dr. Paul J. McCracken.

Today is his 96th birthday, and the staff at the Mackinac Center wish him well.

A Ph.D. economist, Dr. McCracken held prestigious posts with the Federal Reserve, National Bureau of Economic Research, University of Michigan and three presidential administrations. Because of his bedrock principles, he has long been held in high regard by colleagues in the private and public sectors, as well as the academy. In 2009, Mackinac Center President Emeritus Lawrence W. Reed said unequivocally that Dr. McCracken is “a first-rate economist, a straight shooter and — with emphasis here — a man of towering integrity.”

Four years ago, I called Dr. McCracken at his home in Ann Arbor to wish him a happy 92nd birthday. To understand his response, a little background is in order: He is a very humble man, and one who likes to get right to the point. So, after extending my good wishes, I should not have been surprised to get the following response: “Thank you. Give my best to everyone at the Center. Bye.”


However brief our conversations, they always delight for one simple reason: I know that I'm chatting with living history.

Born in 1915, Dr. McCracken served President Dwight Eisenhower, starting in 1956. He was later the Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors during the Nixon administration, and he acted as an adviser to Ronald Reagan. McCracken has contributed to the economic history that we younger economists only read about and discuss in abstract terms.

It is my sincere wish that Dr. McCracken enjoy many more good and productive years.

Happy Birthday, Dr. McCracken!