Steven Pressman (economist)

Last updated
Steven Pressman
Born (1952-02-23) February 23, 1952 (age 70)
Brooklyn, New York
Field Post-Keynesian economics; poverty and the middle class
School or
Post Keynesian
Influences John Maynard Keynes, John Kenneth Galbraith
ContributionsThe measurement and causes of poverty and the size of the middle class; application of Post Keynesian principles to microeconomic issues

Steven Pressman (born February 23, 1952 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American economist. He is a former Professor of Economics and Finance at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. He has taught at the University of New Hampshire and Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. [1]


He has served as co-editor of the Review of Political Economy since 1995, as Associate Editor and Book Review Editor of the Eastern Economic Journal since 1989, and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal Basic Income Studies since 2005. [1]

He has been on the Board of Directors of the Eastern Economic Association from 1994 to the present, and since 1996 he has served as Treasurer of the group. In addition he has been a regular book reviewer for "Dollars and Sense" since 2010. [1]


Pressman is the elder son of Jeffrey and Phyllis Pressman. Pressman and his brother Alan, a bankruptcy attorney on Long Island, attended public school in Queens (New York) and graduated from Francis Lewis High School. Pressman's sister-in-law, Melissa Palmer, is a Hepatologist and researcher in the field of liver disease. Pressman attended Alfred University in upstate New York, where he received a B.A. in philosophy in 1973. He then attended Syracuse University and received an Master of Arts in philosophy in 1976. He went on to study economics at the New School, working with Robert Heilbroner, Edward J. Nell, David Gordon, and Vivian Walsh. He received his Ph.D. in 1983 for his work on Francois Quesnay's Tableau Économique, the first economic model. [1]


He is known for his contributions to economics, particularly his work on poverty and the middle class, which documents that a thriving middle class and low rates of poverty require substantial redistributive efforts on the part of the government; his work applying the principles of Post Keynesian economics to microeconomic policy issues; his work on tax and redistribution policy and his work on the Tableau Économique. [1]

Poverty, the Middle Class, and Income Distribution

Pressman has published articles (with his colleague at Monmouth University, Robert Scott) arguing that poverty and inequality are greater than measured by government statistics because these measures exclude interest payments on consumer debt and these interest payments cannot be used to support current living standards. This work has estimated that there are more than 4 million debt poor in the United States. They have also estimated that the problem of inequality is worse than estimated by standard measures such as the Gini coefficient. They are currently seeking to identify the debt poor and to devise policies to aid the debt poor, who do not qualify for many government assistance programs that mainly go to households officially considered as poor. [1]

Pressman has published several papers using the Luxembourg Income Study to examine poverty, the middle class and government redistribution throughout the world. These papers argue that one main reason poverty rates are so high in the United States is that government tax and government spending policies do little to help those with low earned incomes. In addition, the United States middle class is very small compared to other developed countries mainly because government tax and government spending policies fail to help middle class families. [1]

Additionally, Pressman has published articles on income guarantees and edited a book on the notion of Basic Income Guarantees as a solution to poverty. This work argues that a guaranteed income would not have any major negative economic effects, such as creating great work disincentives, as long as the guarantees are kept to a minimal level. Moreover, this minimal level is greater than the current redistributive efforts in the United States, and something close to what other developed countries provide to their citizens. [1]

Pressman has published articles on refundable tax credits for children as a solution to child poverty in the United States and as a way to support the middle class in the United States. This work argues that these tax credits could be financed by eliminating tax exemptions for children. [1]

He has also published articles on women and poverty. This work argues that the feminization of poverty is due to more female-headed households in the United States and the lack of appropriate tax and spending programs to help female-headed households. Compared to other developed nations throughout the world who do much to help female-headed families, the poverty rate for U.S. female-headed families is much greater. [1]

Government Tax and Spending Policy

As noted above, Pressman has published work advocating that government tax and spending policy is a main determinant of poverty and the size of the middle class in developed countries. He has then gone on to argue for more progressive fiscal policies to support poor and middle class households in the United States. He has also argued that these redistributive programs would not have many negative effects. [1]

He has analyzed the U.S. Current Population Survey, and articulated a policy to eliminate tax deductions for children and convert them into a refundable tax credit. This would essentially give the United States a system of child or family allowances, similar to other developed nations throughout the world. Such a policy change would help low and moderate-income households at no additional cost. It would also greatly reduce child poverty in the U.S. and increase the size of the U.S. middle class. [1]

Pressman has published articles articulating how state governments should deal with the dilemmas of taxing e-commerce, arguing that states need to move away from relying on regressive sales taxes and use more progressive forms of taxation. [1]

Finally, Pressman has shown that there is little empirical evidence that government deficits crowd out consumption, business investment, or net exports. There is, however, good empirical evidence that, when used appropriately, fiscal policy is able to mitigate business cycles. [1]

Physiocracy and the History of Economic Thought

Pressman's work has sought to explain the Physiocratic model of the macro-economy (see Physiocracy), and to argue that the Tableau Économique is a consistent economic model. He has shown how this model can be used to deal with the contemporary economic problems such as the productivity slowdown and appropriate tax policy. Finally, he has shown how this model is consistent with the models of contemporary schools of thought such as Post-Keynesian economics. [1]

His book, 50 Major Economists, 2nd ed. (Routledge, 2006) brings the ideas of key economists from the past to a more general audience.

Other Contributions

Pressman has written on financial frauds and their causes, including articles on specific frauds such as Charles Ponzi, Martin Frankel, and Health South. He has argued that naive optimism, a human character trait, is one reason that financial frauds are so prevalent. Another reason is herd behavior. Yet another reason is the lack of adequate government controls and insufficient checks and balances on firms and on individuals working for firms. Finally, human laziness comes into play – the failure of people to do the simple homework necessary to identify likely fraudulent activity. [1]

Pressman has also written on economic methodology, arguing that the voting paradox cannot be resolved by claiming that voting is like clapping or applauding for a candidate. Strong empirical evidence that people engage in strategic voting, and important differences between voting and applause, make this resolution of the voting paradox inadequate.

Finally, Pressman has argued that Robert Nozick's position on the justice of government redistribution programs, which is put into concrete terms with his famous Wilt Chamberlain example, is badly flawed for four reasons – it ignores actual history, yet purports to be a historical theory of justice, it ignores empirical evidence on justice, it ignores the social nature of production and it ignores the future. [1]


Books written

Books edited

Selected peer reviewed articles

Poverty, the middle class, and income distribution

Post-Keynesian economics

Physiocracy and the history of economic thought

Other works

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Keynesian economics</span> Group of macroeconomic theories

Keynesian economics are the various macroeconomic theories and models of how aggregate demand strongly influences economic output and inflation. In the Keynesian view, aggregate demand does not necessarily equal the productive capacity of the economy. Instead, it is influenced by a host of factors – sometimes behaving erratically – affecting production, employment, and inflation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Macroeconomics</span> Study of an economy as a whole

Macroeconomics is a branch of economics dealing with performance, structure, behavior, and decision-making of an economy as a whole. For example, using interest rates, taxes, and government spending to regulate an economy’s growth and stability. This includes regional, national, and global economies. According to a 2018 assessment by economists Emi Nakamura and Jón Steinsson, economic "evidence regarding the consequences of different macroeconomic policies is still highly imperfect and open to serious criticism."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Milton Friedman</span> American economist and statistician (1912–2006)

Milton Friedman was an American economist and statistician who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his research on consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and the complexity of stabilization policy. With George Stigler and others, Friedman was among the intellectual leaders of the Chicago school of economics, a neoclassical school of economic thought associated with the work of the faculty at the University of Chicago that rejected Keynesianism in favor of monetarism until the mid-1970s, when it turned to new classical macroeconomics heavily based on the concept of rational expectations. Several students, young professors and academics who were recruited or mentored by Friedman at Chicago went on to become leading economists, including Gary Becker, Robert Fogel, Thomas Sowell and Robert Lucas Jr.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Reaganomics</span> Economic policies promoted by U.S. President Ronald Reagan

Reaganomics, or Reaganism, refers to the neoliberal economic policies promoted by U.S. President Ronald Reagan during the 1980s. These policies are commonly associated with and characterized as supply-side economics, trickle-down economics, or "voodoo economics" by opponents, while Reagan and his advocates preferred to call it free-market economics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Post-Keynesian economics</span> School of economic thought

Post-Keynesian economics is a school of economic thought with its origins in The General Theory of John Maynard Keynes, with subsequent development influenced to a large degree by Michał Kalecki, Joan Robinson, Nicholas Kaldor, Sidney Weintraub, Paul Davidson, Piero Sraffa and Jan Kregel. Historian Robert Skidelsky argues that the post-Keynesian school has remained closest to the spirit of Keynes' original work. It is a heterodox approach to economics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Franco Modigliani</span> Italian-American economist (1918–2003)

Franco Modigliani was an Italian-American economist and the recipient of the 1985 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. He was a professor at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Carnegie Mellon University, and MIT Sloan School of Management.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fiscal policy</span> Use of government revenue collection and expenditure to influence a countrys economy

In economics and political science, fiscal policy is the use of government revenue collection and expenditure to influence a country's economy. The use of government revenue expenditures to influence macroeconomic variables developed in reaction to the Great Depression of the 1930s, when the previous laissez-faire approach to economic management became unworkable. Fiscal policy is based on the theories of the British economist John Maynard Keynes, whose Keynesian economics theorized that government changes in the levels of taxation and government spending influence aggregate demand and the level of economic activity. Fiscal and monetary policy are the key strategies used by a country's government and central bank to advance its economic objectives. The combination of these policies enables these authorities to target inflation and to increase employment. Additionally, it is designed to try to keep GDP growth at 2%–3% and the unemployment rate near the natural unemployment rate of 4%–5%. This implies that fiscal policy is used to stabilize the economy over the course of the business cycle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Deficit spending</span> Spending in excess of revenue

Within the budgetary process, deficit spending is the amount by which spending exceeds revenue over a particular period of time, also called simply deficit, or budget deficit; the opposite of budget surplus. The term may be applied to the budget of a government, private company, or individual. Government deficit spending was first identified as a necessary economic tool by John Maynard Keynes in the wake of the Great Depression. It is a central point of controversy in economics, as discussed below.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Public finance</span> Study of the role of government within the economy

Public finance is the study of the role of the government in the economy. It is the branch of economics that assesses the government revenue and government expenditure of the public authorities and the adjustment of one or the other to achieve desirable effects and avoid undesirable ones. The purview of public finance is considered to be threefold, consisting of governmental effects on:

  1. The efficient allocation of available resources;
  2. The distribution of income among citizens; and
  3. The stability of the economy.
<span class="mw-page-title-main">Irving Fisher</span> American economist (1867–1947)

Irving Fisher was an American economist, statistician, inventor, eugenicist and progressive social campaigner. He was one of the earliest American neoclassical economists, though his later work on debt deflation has been embraced by the post-Keynesian school. Joseph Schumpeter described him as "the greatest economist the United States has ever produced", an assessment later repeated by James Tobin and Milton Friedman.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alvin Hansen</span> American economist

Alvin Harvey Hansen was an American economist who taught at the University of Minnesota and was later a chair professor of economics at Harvard University. Often referred to as "the American Keynes", he was a widely read popular author on economic issues, and an influential advisor to the government on economic policy. Hansen helped create the Council of Economic Advisors and the Social Security system. He is best remembered today for introducing Keynesian economics in the United States in the 1930s and 40s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Michael Boskin</span> American businessman

Michael Jay Boskin is the T. M. Friedman Professor of Economics and senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He also is chief executive officer and president of Boskin & Co., an economic consulting company.

The history of economic thought is the study of the philosophies of the different thinkers and theories in the subjects that later became political economy and economics, from the ancient world to the present day in the 21st century. This field encompasses many disparate schools of economic thought. Ancient Greek writers such as the philosopher Aristotle examined ideas about the art of wealth acquisition, and questioned whether property is best left in private or public hands. In the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas argued that it was a moral obligation of businesses to sell goods at a just price.

Sidney Weintraub was an American economist, one of the most prominent American members of the Post Keynesian economics school. He was the co-founder and co-editor of The Journal of Post Keynesian Economics (1978). His views included criticism of monetarism and the neoclassical synthesis, and promotion of the tax-based incomes policy (TIP).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alberto Alesina</span> Italian economist (1957–2020)

Alberto Francesco Alesina was an Italian political economist. Described as one of the leading political economists of his generation, he published many influential works in both the economics and political science research literature.

Public economics is the study of government policy through the lens of economic efficiency and equity. Public economics builds on the theory of welfare economics and is ultimately used as a tool to improve social welfare.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Redistribution of income and wealth</span> Political philosophy

Redistribution of income and wealth is the transfer of income and wealth from some individuals to others through a social mechanism such as taxation, welfare, public services, land reform, monetary policies, confiscation, divorce or tort law. The term typically refers to redistribution on an economy-wide basis rather than between selected individuals.

Athanasios "Tom" Asimakopulos was a Canadian economist, who was the "William Dow Professor of Political Economy" in the Department of Economics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. His monograph, Keynes's General Theory and Accumulation, reviews important areas of Keynes's General Theory and the theories of accumulation of two of his most distinguished followers, Roy Harrod and Joan Robinson.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Post–World War II economic expansion</span> Long period of worldwide economic growth following World War II

The post–World War II economic expansion, also known as the postwar economic boom or the Golden Age of Capitalism, was a broad period of worldwide economic expansion beginning after World War II and ending with the 1973–1975 recession. The United States, Soviet Union and Western European and East Asian countries in particular experienced unusually high and sustained growth, together with full employment.

Geoffrey Colin Harcourt was an Australian academic economist and leading member of the post-Keynesian school. He studied at the University of Melbourne and then at King's College, Cambridge.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Monmouth University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2011.