American Institute for Economic Research

The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) is a conservative libertarian think tank known for spreading climate and health misinformation, located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.[3][4] AIER is the "oldest economic research institute in the United States."[5]

American Institute for
Economic Research
AbbreviationAIER
Formation1933; 91 years ago (1933)
FounderEdward C. Harwood
Type501(c)(3) non-profit think tank
04-2121305
PurposeFree market advocacy
Location
President
William P. Ruger[1]
Revenue (2019)
$2,222,727[2]
Expenses (2019)$5,129,945[2]
Websiteaier.org

AIER was founded in 1933 by Edward C. Harwood, an economist and investment advisor. It is located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.[6] Since January 2022, the organization's president has been William P. Ruger.[7]

History edit

 
Edward C. Harwood

Col. Edward C. Harwood was a graduate of the United States Military Academy and served in the Army Corps of Engineers. In the 1920s, he began writing freelance magazine articles on economic issues.[8] With $200 saved from selling his articles, Harwood founded AIER in 1933.[8][6]

Almost since its inception, AEIR has published periodicals. The initial two were the Investment Bulletin and the Research Reports.[9] Now, AIER publishes The Daily Economy, Fusion, and the Harwood Economic Review, which cover economics news, classical liberal and conservative philosophy, and economic and econometric scholarship, respectively.

Edward Stringham was appointed President of the Institute in 2017;[10] he was preceded by Stephen Adams,[11] and succeeded by Will Ruger in 2022.[1]

In 2019, the Museum of American Finance loaned its entire library collection to AIER, to be hosted, catalogued and made available there. The initial loan period was for five years.[12]

Policy positions edit

AIER's stated mission is to "[educate] people on the value of personal freedom, free enterprise, property rights, limited government, and sound money."[13] They take positions on specific policies such as free trade, deregulation, and the defense of certain civil liberties.

The organization has a history of promoting climate change denial,[14][15][16] with articles such as "Brazilians Should Keep Slashing Their Rainforest."[17][18][19] The institution has also funded research on the comparative benefits that sweatshops supplying multinationals bring to the people working in them.[20][21]

According to historian and philosopher Philip Mirowski, AIER has been "leading the charge" to neutralize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as "arbiters of public health" and favors abolishing other federal bureaucracies, such as the Federal Reserve and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.[22] [23] [24][25]

COVID-19 edit

During the COVID-19 pandemic, AIER was known for spreading misinformation and for promoting a herd immunity strategy of "focused protection" to deal with the pandemic.[26][27]

AIER issued a statement in October 2020 called the Great Barrington Declaration that argued for a herd immunity strategy of "focused protection" to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.[27] It was roundly condemned by many public health experts.[27][28] Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert appointed by the White House, called the declaration "total nonsense" and unscientific.[27] Tyler Cowen, a libertarian economist at George Mason University, wrote that while he sympathized with a libertarian approach to deal with the pandemic, he considered the declaration to be dangerous and misguided.[29] The declaration was also criticized by the Niskanen Center,[30] a formerly libertarian think tank[31] that now calls itself moderate.[32]

AIER paid for ads on Facebook promoting its articles against government social distancing measures and mask mandates.[33]

In October 2020, Twitter removed a tweet by White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas linking to an AIER article that argued against the effectiveness of masks.[34][relevant?]

Programs and affiliations edit

 
2018 Sound Money Seminar

AIER maintains a global network of local chapters called the Bastiat Society.[33] According to its website, the Bastiat Society "is a global network of individuals committed to advancing free trade, individual freedom, and limited government...[and hosts] over 200 lectures, discussions, seminars, workshops, and conferences in over 15 countries each year."[35] It partners for events, initiatives, and other programming with the Atlas Network and other groups such as the Free to Choose Network, Young Voices, and several university centers across the country.[36][37][38] Though AIER's campus is in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in recent years the majority of its programming has taken place at a variety of academic and conference venues around the country.

Books edit

After more than two decades of printing pamphlets and booklets in the main AIER office in Great Barrington, the institute constructed a full printing press and bookbinding shop in 1957.[39] This press produced several self-published manuals of microeconomics for families and small business owners. The most widely distributed of these books included The Executor's Roadmap, How to Avoid Financial Tangles, and If Something Should Happen: How to Organize Your Financial and Legal Affairs, which has circulated more than 200,000 copies since 2008.[40]

Recent titles such as New Deal Rebels and The 1619 Project: A Critique have been referenced and debated in the scholarly and journalistic community as they relate to current political and economic issues.[41][42][original research?]

Funding edit

AIER owns American Investment Services Inc., an investment advisory firm whose fund was valued at around $285 million in 2020.[43][44] The fund includes holdings in a wide range of companies but holds a majority of its assets in diversified exchange-traded funds and gold investments. In 2020, about 14% of its investments were in information technology and telecom companies including Microsoft and Alphabet Inc., about 6% in electric and gas utilities, 5% in fossil fuel companies including Chevron and ExxonMobil, and 2% in food, alcohol, and tobacco stocks, including Mondelez International and Philip Morris International.[44][45]

Over half of AIER's funding comes from its investments, but it also receives contributions and foundation grants. In 2018 it reportedly received US$68,100 from the Charles Koch Foundation, approximately 3% of AIER's revenue for the year.[33][27][46] It has partnered with Emergent Order, a public relations company also funded by the Charles Koch Foundation.[44]

In 2019 the American Institute for Economic Research had total assets of $184,901,564.[2]

References edit

  1. ^ a b "AIER Welcomes Will Ruger | AIER".
  2. ^ a b c d "2019 Annual Report" (PDF). American Institute for Economic Research. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  3. ^ Bellow, Heather (2020-10-22). "Draft town letter slams 'risky premise' of Great Barrington Declaration". The Berkshire Eagle.
  4. ^ Cowgill, Terry (2020-10-06). "News Analysis: Disputed 'Great Barrington Declaration' issued by free-market think tank". The Berkshire Edge. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  5. ^ Owens, Carole. "Connections: The Huckleberry King of the Berkshires". The Berkshire Edge. Retrieved 17 May 2024.
  6. ^ a b "Charity Navigator - Rating for American Institute for Economic Research". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  7. ^ AIER Staff. "AIER Welcomes Will Ruger". American Institute for Economic Research. American Institute for Economic Research. Retrieved 17 May 2024.
  8. ^ a b Harwood, Frederick C.; Murray (2008). The Golden Constant: American Institute for Economic Research: 75 Years of Free Thinking on the Free Market (1933-2008). American Institute for Economic Research: Charles. ISBN 9780913610626.
  9. ^ JONES, Chief Judge (9 May 1962). "American Institute for Economic Research v. the United States, 302 F.2d 934 (Ct. Cl. 1962)". U.S. Court of Claims (1855-1982). Retrieved 28 October 2023. almost from its inception, plaintiff has published two periodicals, the Investment Bulletin and the Research Reports
  10. ^ "American Institute for Economic Research Names Next President". 18 November 2023.
  11. ^ GARY HABER (19 March 2015). "$5 million manufacturing tax credit proposed for Pennsylvania". The Mercury (Pennsylvania). Retrieved 28 October 2023. The personal income tax rate is one factor a CEO would look at in deciding where to relocate, said Stephen Adams, president of the American Institute for Economic Research
  12. ^ Sarah Poole (Fall 2019). "MoAF Loans Library Collection to the American Institute for Economic Research". Financial History Magazine (131). Museum of American Finance: 6. ISSN 1520-4723. Retrieved 27 October 2023.
  13. ^ "AIER About". Retrieved March 19, 2024.
  14. ^ McKie, Ruth E. (1 October 2021). "Obstruction, delay, and transnationalism: Examining the online climate change counter-movement". Energy Research & Social Science. 80: 102217. Bibcode:2021ERSS...8002217M. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2021.102217. ISSN 2214-6296. S2CID 238837623.
  15. ^ Lewandowsky, Stephan; Armaos, Konstantinos; Bruns, Hendrik; Schmid, Philipp; Holford, Dawn Liu; Hahn, Ulrike; Al-Rawi, Ahmed; Sah, Sunita; Cook, John (March 2022). "When Science Becomes Embroiled in Conflict: Recognizing the Public's Need for Debate while Combating Conspiracies and Misinformation". The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 700 (1): 26–40. doi:10.1177/00027162221084663. PMC 7613792. PMID 36338265.
  16. ^ Oreskes, Naomi (6 April 2021). Why Trust Science?. Princeton University Press. p. xvii. ISBN 978-0-691-22237-0.
  17. ^ Krugman, Paul (2020-10-26). "Trump Tells Coronavirus, 'I Surrender'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-02-08. Well, it is, not surprisingly, linked to the Charles Koch Institute. And a perusal of its website reveals that until recently it devoted much of its time to climate denial, putting out articles with titles like "Brazilians Should Keep Slashing Their Rainforest." More recently, however, the institute's focus has shifted to Covid denial. Last month, for example, it published an article lauding Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, whose refusal to take action against the coronavirus has turned her state into what the article called "a fortress of liberty and hope protected from the grasps of overbearing politicians."
  18. ^ Cowgill, Terry (13 October 2020). "'Great Barrington Declaration' and AIER feeling heat on both sides of the Atlantic". The Berkshire Edge. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  19. ^ Sodha, Sonia (2020-10-11). "The anti-lockdown scientists' cause would be more persuasive if it weren't so half-baked". Retrieved 2021-02-08. what are scientists doing fronting a campaign whose back office is run by a thinktank that flirts with climate change denial?
  20. ^ Greenhalgh, Trish; McKee, Martin; Kelly-Irving, Michelle (18 October 2020). "The pursuit of herd immunity is a folly – so who's funding this bad science?". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  21. ^ Powell, Benjamin; Skarbek, David (2006-06-01). "Sweatshops and third world living standards: Are the jobs worth the sweat?". Journal of Labor Research. 27 (2): 263–274. doi:10.1007/s12122-006-1006-z. ISSN 1936-4768. S2CID 55642948.
  22. ^ Mirowski, Philip (April 27, 2022). "The Death of Neoliberalism Has Been Greatly Exaggerated". Jacobin. Retrieved June 20, 2023.
  23. ^ "CDC Has Become Centers for the Destruction of Childhood". Retrieved March 19, 2024.
  24. ^ Wright, Robert. "Fed Up With the Fed". Retrieved March 19, 2024. But should we end the Fed? In a word, yes. What would replace it? You! And me. And every other person, negotiating through markets, just like the Founders wanted.
  25. ^ Richman, Sheldon. "Abolish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau". Retrieved March 19, 2024.
  26. ^ McKie, Ruth E. (2022). "Obstruction, delay, and transnationalism: Examining the online climate change counter-movement" (PDF). Energy Research & Social Science. 84. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2021.102387. S2CID 244355931. Nevertheless, this subgroup maintains a presence in the network and promotes anti-science rhetoric, including nuclear conspiracies. Moreover, the technique of employing discredited scientific positions mirror anti-science and conspiratorial debates on the COVID19 pandemic. This includes the anti-lockdown and misinformation campaigns by the Kock funded libertarian American Institute for Economic Research (AIER). The Koch funded institute created the Great Barrington Declaration, similar to the OSIM's Petition Project, and includes climate sceptic authors Dr Jay Bhattacharya and Sunetra Gupta promoted by the counter-movement organisation the Heartland Institute. Overlaps between AIER and other think tanks in a network funded by Koch Industries show the ongoing relationship between fossil interests and the dissemination of scientific misinformation to protect a business as usual scenario even during the time of an international public health crisis on this international web platform.
  27. ^ a b c d e Mandavilli, Apoorva; Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (2020-10-23). "A Viral Theory Cited by Health Officials Draws Fire From Scientists". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  28. ^ "Critics Blast Controversial Declaration in Favor of Herd Immunity". Medscape. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  29. ^ "A Dangerous Libertarian Strategy for Herd Immunity". Bloomberg.com. 2020-10-15. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  30. ^ "The Useful Libertarian Idiocy of The Great Barrington Declaration". Niskanen Center. 2020-10-27. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  31. ^ Coren, Michael J. (31 October 2018). "A libertarian think tank just gave up on libertarianism". Quartz. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  32. ^ "The Center Can Hold: Public Policy for an Age of Extremes". Niskanen Center. 2018-12-18. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  33. ^ a b c "American Institute for Economic Research". DeSmog. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  34. ^ Rahman, Khaleda (October 18, 2020). "Twitter Removes White House Adviser's Tweet Saying Masks Do Not Prevent COVID-19". Newsweek. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  35. ^ AIER. "The Bastiat Society Program". www.aier.org. Retrieved 2024-04-18.
  36. ^ Greenhalgh, Trish; McKee, Martin; Kelly-Irving, Michelle (2020-10-18). "The pursuit of herd immunity is a folly – so who's funding this bad science?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2024-04-18.
  37. ^ Ahmed, Nafeez (2020-10-13). "Koch-Funded PR Agency Aided Great Barrington Declaration Sponsor". www.bylinetimes.com. Retrieved 2024-04-18.
  38. ^ "AIER Events". Retrieved March 14, 2024.
  39. ^ "Cotswold Cottage at AIER". Retrieved March 28, 2024.
  40. ^ "If Something Should Happen". Retrieved March 28, 2024.
  41. ^ Glancy, Josh (14 November 2021). "The 1619 Project: US history has been rewritten as racist. Here comes the fightback". Times. Retrieved 2024-03-28.
  42. ^ Stuttaford, Andrew (10 July 2023). "Amity Shlaes — The Forgotten Book". National Review. Retrieved 2024-03-28.
  43. ^ "American Investment Services: AIS - Disciplined, Diversified, Cost Effective". American Investment Services, Inc. Archived from the original on November 8, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-09.
  44. ^ a b c Nafeez Ahmed (2020-10-09). "Climate Science Denial Network Behind Great Barrington Declaration". www.bylinetimes.com. Retrieved 2020-10-11.
  45. ^ American Investment Services (2020-10-29). "13F-HR".
  46. ^ "American Institute for Economic Research" (PDF). ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer. Retrieved 20 August 2020.

External links edit