The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Keyserling, Leon Hirsch (Born 1908)

  • Lynn Turgeon
Reference work entry


An important practitioner of New Deal economics, Keyserling is best remembered for his role as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1950 to 1953. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, he received a degree in law from Harvard. Subsequently Keyserling left the PhD programme in economics at Columbia University to go to Washington at the urging of his mentor, Rexford Tugwell, who became famous as a member of Roosevelt’s ‘brain trust’. There he worked as a lawyer for the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and later as secretary and legislative assistant to Senator Robert Wagner of New York. During World War II, Keyserling was general counsel to the United States Housing Administration. He was influential in the passage of the Employment Act of 1946, which gave rise to the Council of Economic Advisers. Keyserling served under Edwin Nourse, the first Chair, although there were great differences in their views as to the function of the Council. Nourse thought of the Council as being politically neutral, while Keyserling felt that it should be more activist and support the President. Nourse was inclined to see inflation as the chief threat to the postwar economy, while Keyserling viewed unemployment as the greater threat.

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  1. Sobel, R. 1980. The worldly economists. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lynn Turgeon
    • 1
  1. 1.