Center for the Study of Representative Institutions: “The President and Economic Leadership: What Can the Gilded Age Tell Us?”

Event time: 
Thursday, February 18, 2021 - 4:30pm
Zoom Session See map
Event description: 

The Center for the Study of Representative Institutions presents

Mark Zachary Taylor associate professor, School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology: 

The President and Economic Leadership: What Can the Gilded Age Tell Us?

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Do presidents matter for America’s economic performance? This talk looks for answers in a set of least-likely cases: the Gilded Age presidents (1869-1901). The conventional wisdom is that prior to Theodore Roosevelt, presidents mattered little during peacetime. One reason is that the 19th century public expected little of its executives. And even if a president had wanted to affect policy, most observers argue that the Gilded Age presidency was too institutionally weak to do much. We also tend to stereotype Gilded Age presidents as ineffective, irrelevant, and forgettable. However, this talk will show that Gilded Age presidents were often dynamic, influential, and affected the nation’s economy in subtle ways that still apply today. Hence, this investigation is more than just an academic debate over long-dead politicians. While the differences might tempt us to dismiss this time period as irrelevant, the similarities between the Gilded Age and today are even more striking.

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Mark Zachary Taylor specializes in political economy, the American presidency, and comparative politics. In his research, he tries to understand the sources of national economic competitiveness. He currently studies the role of the US presidency in short-run economic performance. Prof. Taylor’s research has been published in the journals Foreign Affairs, International Organization, and Presidential Studies Quarterly. Prof. Taylor holds a PhD in Political Science from MIT, an MA in International Relations from Yale University, earned a BA in Physics from UC Berkeley, and has attended university in Japan. More information at

Free but register in advance
Open to: 
General Public