Leon Keyserling

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Leon Keyserling
Council of Economic Advisors.gif
Keyserling (third from left), 1949
2nd Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
In office
November 2, 1949 – January 20, 1953
Acting: November 2, 1949 – May 10, 1950
President Harry Truman
Preceded by Edwin Nourse
Succeeded by Arthur Burns
Personal details
Born (1908-01-11)January 11, 1908
Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
Died August 9, 1987(1987-08-09) (aged 79)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Dublin
Education Columbia University (BA)
Harvard University (JD)

Leon Hirsch Keyserling (January 11, 1908 – August 9, 1987)[1] was an American economist and lawyer. During his career he helped draft major pieces of Fair Deal legislation and advised President Harry S. Truman as head of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Early life[edit]

Keyserling was born in 1908 in Charleston, South Carolina. He earned an A.B. from Columbia University in 1928, his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1931, and returned to Columbia as a graduate student in the Department of Economics from 1931 to 1933,[1] where he also taught for a short time.[2] While there Keyserling studied under Rexford Tugwell, but never finished his dissertation.[3]

Keyserling married Mary Dublin Keyserling, also an economist.[1]

Government career[edit]

In 1933 Keyserling became an attorney for the newly constituted Agricultural Adjustment Administration,[1] a New Deal agency that distributed subsidies to reduce crop area. From 1933 to 1946 he was a consultant economist to the Senate on a variety of social, economic, industrial, and financial issues, during which time he also served as a legislative assistant to Democratic New York Senator Robert F. Wagner (1933–37) and several positions, including general counsel, to the US Housing Authority, Federal Public Housing Authority, and National Housing Agency (1937–46).[1] It was during his time with Wagner that Keyserling participating in drafting various New Deal initiatives, including the National Industrial Recovery Act, the Social Security Act, and the National Labor Relations Act.[4]

In 1946 Keyserling became a member of the Vice Chairman of the newly created Council of Economic Advisers, later becoming the Acting Chairman in 1949 and the Chairman in 1950; he left as Chairman in 1953.[1]

Later life[edit]

Following his time advising President Truman, Keyserling consulted with Congress on a variety of economic issues and also practiced law.[1] In 1954 he founded the Conference on Economic Progress (CEP), serving as its president of until 1987.[1] His wife had left the Department of Commerce in 1953 and joined him in consulting as well as the founding of the CEP, where she served as associate director from its inception to 1963.[5]

In 1969 Keyserling served as president of the National Committee for Labor Israel,[1] a US organization that worked with the Israeli Histadrut.

He died on August 9, 1987, at Washington, D.C.'s George Washington University Hospital.[4]


  • Redirecting Education (with Rexford Tugwell) (1934)
  • Toward Full Employment and Full Production (1954)
  • Consumption-Key to Full Prosperity (1957)
  • The Federal Budget and the General Welfare (1959)
  • The Peace by Investment Corporation (with Benjamin Javitts) (1962)
  • Taxes and the Public Interest (1963)
  • Progress or Poverty (1964)
  • The Move Toward Railroad Mergers (1965)
  • A Freedom Budget for All Americans (1966)
  • The Scarcity School of Economics (1973)
  • Liberal and Conservative National Economic Policies and Their Consequences, 1919-79 (1979)
  • The Current Significance of the New Deal (1984)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Leon H. Keyserling Papers". Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  2. ^ Virgo, John M. (September 1987). "Articles In Memoriam: Leon H. Keyserling 1908–1987". Atlantic Economic Journal. Springer Netherlands. 15 (3): 1. doi:10.1007/BF02316880. ISSN 1573-9678. 
  3. ^ Brazelton, W. Robert (Fall 1997). "Retrospectives: The Economics of Leon Hirsch Keyserling" (PDF). Journal of Economic Perspectives. 11 (4): 189–197. doi:10.1257/jep.11.4.189. 
  4. ^ a b Wayne, Leslie (1987-08-11). "Leon Keyserling, Economic Aide to Truman, Dies". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ "Keyserling, Mary (Dublin) Papers, 1924-1988: A Finding Aid". Harvard University Library. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Brazelton, W. Robert (2001). Designing U.S. Economic Policy: An Analytical Biography of Leon H. Keyserling. New York: Palgrave. ISBN 0-333-77575-9. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Edwin Nourse
Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
Succeeded by
Arthur Burns