September 17, 2019

Martin Feldstein, 79, a Chief Economist Under Reagan, Dies

“In temperament, timing and strategy, Marty Feldstein — as he’s widely known — is proving to be the odd man out in the economic policy ranks of the Reagan administration,” the economics reporter Peter T. Kilborn wrote in The Times in 1983, adding, “He has shown little clout even in areas, like Social Security policy, where his academic credentials were strongest and his timing superb.”

Lawrence A. Kudlow, who had been economic policy director in Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget and is now an economic adviser to President Trump, was quoted as saying of Professor Feldstein, “He has failed at making the transition from academic economist to political economist.”

But on his return to Harvard in 1984, in accordance with its strict two-year limit on leaves, he won praise from The Times in an editorial.

“Of his dozen predecessors, some may have been brighter, or better at Washington politics,” the editorial said, “but none were more willing to stand up and speak out. He’s served the country well.”

Martin Stuart Feldstein was born on Nov. 25, 1939, in the Bronx to Meyer and Esther (Gevarter) Feldstein. His father, who was known as Mac, was a lawyer. The family later moved to Rockville Centre on Long Island, where Mr. Feldstein attended South Side High School and won a scholarship to Harvard.

He graduated from Harvard in 1961 and went on to earn a Ph.D. from Oxford University, where he received attention for his papers on the British public health service. While in England he met his future wife, Kathleen Foley, who is also an economist.

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