The Economic Wisdom of George Shultz
In four cabinet posts and a lifetime of advising political leaders, George Shultz profoundly affected US policy in a dizzying array of areas, from racial inequality to exchange rates. His astonishing ability to get to the essence of complex situations and devise a way forward was never just about analysis, charts, and data.
STANFORD – George Shultz, who died this month at age 100, is best known for being US President Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State. Their close working relationship enabled them to limit nuclear weapons, help end the Cold War, and champion human rights.
Words like “great” and “extraordinary” have been so debased nowadays that they sound out of place even when they are truly deserved. In fact, words may fail to convey the depth, breadth, and enduring impact Shultz had on the world, and on economic policy in particular. While melding, as he put it, ideas into action, he never lost his grace, humility, and integrity.
I had the privilege of working closely with him for five decades on a wide array of public policy issues, when we were each in and out of government and at the Hoover Institution. He became a cherished colleague, mentor, and role model to me and many others. And he was a close friend: I was a pallbearer at his first wife’s funeral, and he saw my wife through my life-threatening emergency surgery.