Dr. Paul McCracken, RIP

Dr. Paul McCracken, a long-time member of the Mackinac Center’s Board of Scholars, passed away at the age of 96 Friday in Ann Arbor, according to Carpe Diem, a blog written by Dr. Mark J. Perry, another member of the Center’s Board of Scholars.

McCracken was a Ph.D. economist who was on the faculty of the University of Michigan’s School of Business Administration. He served on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors during both the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations, and was a member of President Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board.

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(Editor's note: The following is the text of a blog post written by Michael D. LaFaive, director of the Center's Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, on Dec. 29, 2009, in honor of Dr. McCracken's 94th birthday.)

During our 21-year history, the staff and adjunct scholars of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy have been honored with the opportunity to associate with more than a few intellectual luminaries. Of these, perhaps none shines the light of intellectual gravitas more brightly than Mackinac Center adjunct scholar and supporter, Paul J. McCracken.

A Ph.D. economist, McCracken's professional career had led him to prestigious posts with the Federal Reserve, National Bureau of Economic Research, University of Michigan and three presidents. For his bedrock principles he has long been held in high regard by colleagues in both the private and public sectors, as well as academia. Asked to comment for this article, Mackinac Center President Emeritus Lawrence W. Reed said without hesitation that Dr. McCracken is "a first-rate economist, a straight shooter, and, with emphasis here, a man of towering integrity."

Several years ago I called Dr. McCracken at his home in Ann Arbor to wish him well on his 92nd birthday. For those who don't know him, 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 delighted for one simple reason. I knew that I was chatting with living history.

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

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