Dean Baker

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Dean Baker
Dean Baker 2.jpg
Dean Baker in 2007
Born (1958-07-13) July 13, 1958 (age 57)
Institution Center for Economic and Policy Research
Bucknell University
Field Economics, macroeconomics, urban and real estate economics[1]
Alma mater Swarthmore College (B.A., 1981)
University of Denver (M.A., 1983)
University of Michigan (Ph.D.)
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Dean Baker (born July 13, 1958) is an American macroeconomist and co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, with Mark Weisbrot. He previously was a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor of economics at Bucknell University. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan.

Since 1996 Baker has been the author of a weekly online commentary on economic reporting. The Economic Reporting Review was published from 1996 to 2006; subsequently he has continued this commentary on his weblog Beat The Press, which was formerly published at The American Prospect, but is now located at the CEPR website.


Baker graduated from Swarthmore College (B.A., 1981), the University of Denver (M.A., 1983), and the University of Michigan (Ph.D., 1988).[2] Baker wrote his thesis on consumption theory. He argues that analyzing consumption requires categorizing objects, which cannot be done using only physical characteristics. The words for objects must be used, e.g., chair. These words imply socially understood uses, which define the object, e.g., a chair is used to sit on. Individuals have preferences over these uses of objects. This is at odds with consumption theory, which makes no assumptions about how individuals derive utility from objects. Baker also argues that objects' use values change with their social context, rejecting consumption theory's claim that consumption is private, and not influenced by society.[3]

As a grad student at the University of Michigan, Baker participated in, and was arrested at, two sit-ins protesting Rep. Carl Pursell's votes for military aid to the Contras. In 1986, Baker defeated Donald Grimes in the Democratic primary and ran unsuccessfully against Pursell to represent Michigan's second Congressional district; his candidacy opposed aid to the Contras.[4][5]

After graduate school, Baker was a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor of economics at Bucknell University. He published a paper with Mark Weisbrot in a journal of evolutionary economics.[6] He and Weisbrot founded the Center for Economic and Policy Research in 1999, He has consulted with officials from the World Bank; he has provided testimony to the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress and to the OECD's Trade Union Advisory Council.[7]

From 1996 to 2006 Baker was the author of a weekly online commentary the economic reporting of the New York Times and Washington Post.[8] From 2006 he continued this commentary on the blog Beat The Press, where he critiques economic reporting in the leading US broadsheets, NPR, and other mainstream news sources.

The Great Recession[edit]

Dean Baker predicted the crash of the housing bubble of 2007-2008. He warned about the crisis and the government policies in several media interviews from 2002 to 2005 [9] Basing his outlook on house-price data-sets produced by the US government, Baker asserted that there was a bubble in the US housing market in August 2002,[10] well before its peak,[11] and predicted that the collapse of this bubble must lead to recession. His prediction for when this recession would hit was only out by one quarter.[12][13][14][15][16]

With regard to the housing bubble, Baker has been critical of chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan.[17][18][19]

He has been critical of the regulatory framework of the real estate and financial industries, the use of financial instruments like CDOs, and the performance and conflicting interests of US politicians and regulators.[20]

Baker opposed the US government bailout of Wall Street banks on the basis that the only people who stood to lose from their collapse were their shareholders and well-paid CEOs. Regarding any hypothetical, negative effects of not extending the bailout, he has explained, "We know how to keep the financial system operating even as banks go into bankruptcy and receivership,"[21] citing US government action taken during the S&L crisis of the 1980s.[22] He has ridiculed the US elite for favoring it, asking, "How do you make a DC intellectual look less articulate than Sarah Palin being interviewed by Katie Couric? That's easy. You ask them how failure to pass the bailout will give us a Great Depression."[23]

Political Views[edit]

Dean Baker is identified as a Democrat in his profile on Wall Street Economists. [24]



  1. ^ Dean Baker at IDEAS
  2. ^ Dean Baker at Economic Policy Institute
  3. ^ The logic of neo-classical consumption theory, 1988.
  4. ^ Alexander Cockburn, "Dean Baker for Congress," The Nation, Oct 25 1986
  5. ^ Jonathan Scott, "Dean Baker's war of position," Race & Class, July 2009
  6. ^ Baker, Dean; Weisbrot, Mark (1994). "The logic of contested exchange". Journal of Economic Issues (Association for Evolutionary Economics) 28 (4): 1091–1114. JSTOR 4226888. 
  7. ^ CEPR, Dean Baker
  8. ^ Dean Baker, CEPR, 9 June 2003, Reflections on Economic Reporting: Seven Years of the Economic Reporting Review
  9. ^ Wall Street Economists: A Research Project on Economic Predictions
  10. ^ Baker, Dean (August 2002). "The Run-Up in Home Prices: Is it Real or Is it Another Bubble?". Center for Economic and Policy Research. Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  11. ^ Reinhart, Carmen M.; Rogoff, Kenneth S. (2009). This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 160 (see table 10.8). ISBN 978-0-691-14216-6. 
  12. ^ Robert Manne (May 2009). "The Rudd Essay & the Global Financial Crisis". The Monthly (45). 
  13. ^ Dirk J. Bezemer (2009-06-16). "'No One Saw This Coming': Understanding Financial Crisis Through Accounting Models" (PDF). MPRA Paper No. 15892. Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Retrieved June 16, 2012. 
  14. ^ David Smiley (October 8, 2009). "The Economy in Palliative Care". Progress Magazine. 
  15. ^ Baker, Dean (2006). Recession Looms for the U.S. Economy in 2007 (PDF). CEPR. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  16. ^ Isidore, Chris (1 December 2008). "It's official: Recession since Dec. '07". Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  17. ^ Dean Baker (28 October 2013). "Alan Greenspan owes America an apology". Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  18. ^ Gwiazda, Nick (31 October 2013). "Financial Crisis: The Guardian's Dean Baker Is Wrong – Alan Greenspan Owes Nobody An Apology". Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  19. ^ Baker, Dean (31 October 2013). "Yes, Alan Greenspan Owes Us a Really Big Apology". Beat the Press. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  20. ^ Dean Baker, The Housing Bubble and the Financial Crisis, Real-World Economic Review, Issue no. 46, 20 March 2008
  21. ^ Beat The Press, March 9, 2008
  22. ^ William Seidman, Who Led Cleanup of S&L Crisis, Dies, Bloomberg, May 13, 2009
  23. ^ Huffington Post, September 30, 2008
  24. ^ Wall Street Economists: A Research Project on Economic Predictions

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]