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Promoting Keynesian liberalism: Walter W. Heller and US economic policy, 1933-1987

Hillyer, James Edward Ross; (2017) Promoting Keynesian liberalism: Walter W. Heller and US economic policy, 1933-1987. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis explores the economist Walter W. Heller’s career and maps the rise, ascendancy, and eclipse of Keynesian liberalism in the United States. Heller served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He successfully persuaded both to deploy Keynesian policies to underwrite the liberal expansion of the 1960s. Consequently, Heller was one of the most significant and influential political economists in US history. However, historians have curiously overlooked him. This thesis reasserts Heller’s importance to the making of modern America. It shows that Heller was a more significant figure in the rise of Keynesianism than existing scholarship has appreciated and demonstrates how he educated two presidents in the merits of Keynesian ideas. It illuminates the role Heller played in the formulation of the Great Society and explores how he adapted his Keynesian views during the more conservative times of the 1970s and 1980s. Through examining Heller’s career, this thesis assesses how Keynesianism interacted with liberalism in the United States. It illustrates how both merged in the 1930s, demonstrates how liberals utilised Keynesian thinking during World War II, and shows how Keynesian ideas intersected with liberal policies during the post-war period. In doing so, this thesis adds to recent scholarship that argues liberalism was a much stronger force in post-war American politics than assumed, especially since the scholarly ‘rediscovery’ of conservatism in the 1990s. A positive appraisal of Heller emerges from this thesis. It also provides an overview of the rise and decline of Keynesianism in the United States, breaking new ground in explaining the significance of a presidential adviser who has not hitherto been the subject of specialist study.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Promoting Keynesian liberalism: Walter W. Heller and US economic policy, 1933-1987
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10028602
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