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Larry Kudlow ’69 named a top economic advisor to the president

March 14, 2018

Lawrence (Larry) Kudlow ’69 has been named director of the White House’s National Economic Council, making him one of President Donald Trump’s top economic advisors. Kudlow, the former host of CNBC’s The Kudlow Report, replaces Gary Cohn, who resigned last week, reportedly in opposition to Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Once described by the Washington Post as the “reigning optimist on Wall Street,” Kudlow did not start out in the field of economics. Instead, he earned his bachelor’s degree in history, then attended Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, but left without earning a degree. His economic career began with his post as a junior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which was followed by stints at Paine Webber and Bear Stearns, before joining the Reagan administration as associate director for economics and planning in the Office of Management and Budget.

Larry Kudlow speaking at a Simon Business School podium

Larry Kudlow ’69 speaking at the Simon NYC Conference in 2012. (University of Rochester photo / Shannon Taggart)

“Kudlow is a guy who does not mince words and is not afraid to take on the lion in his own den,” says Peter Regenstreif, a professor emeritus of political science who taught Kudlow at Rochester.

An informal advisor to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Kudlow does have something in common with Cohn, namely an aversion to tariffs. In a March 3 tweet, Kudlow went so far as to call Trump’s then-proposed tariffs on steel a “crisis of logic” and “the equivalent of a tax hike.”

“I’ve always been fairly honest during the good and bad times,” Kudlow said during a 2003 interview with Rochester Review. “Somewhere inside all of us, there’s a conscience. The question is, will we listen to it and will we abide by it?”

Despite Kudlow’s stance on tariffs, his ideas on economic growth as the primary objective of government are well aligned with Trump’s, according to David Primo, the Ani and Mark Gabrellian Professor and associate professor of political science and business administration.

“On the other hand, Kudlow is much more of a free trader than Trump,” says Primo, “so the big question is whether Trump will come around to Kudlow’s views on this issue, or vice versa.”

The University awarded Kudlow an honorary degree in 2013. In presenting the award, the University recognized Kudlow for “candid analysis and savvy understanding of investment markets, the financial industry, and fiscal and monetary strategy.”

Kudlow is the author of American Abundance: The New Economic and Moral Prosperity (Forbes Custom Publishing).

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