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R. Lekachman; N.Y. Professor of Economics

Robert Lekachman, 68, a prominent liberal economist and long a member of The Times Board of Economists, died Saturday in New York of cancer, his family said.

Lekachman, distinguished professor of economics at the Lehman College and graduate center campuses of the City University of New York, was the author of a number of books and a sharp critic of Reagan Administration economic policies.

In his 1982 volume, “Greed Is Not Enough: Reaganomics,” he wrote: “The President and his co-conspirators have been conducting undeclared war against blacks and Hispanics, welfare clients, women, children and blue-collar workers. Under way is still another episode of class conflict between rich and poor.”

Other Lekachman books included “Visions and Nightmares, America after Reagan,” in 1987; “Capitalism for Beginners” in 1981; “Inflation” in 1973, and “The Age of Keynes” in 1966.

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During the Carter Administration, he was an advocate of price and wage controls to restrain inflation.

Later, he became an adherent of legislation making it more difficult for businesses to relocate. “Right now, an American multinational firm can close a plant in Massachusetts, reopen in Taiwan or Brazil or someplace with no penalty,” he said. “I would make it expensive. I would require a solvent company which closes a facility to give notice--of six months, a year. Then, if it persevered, pay substantial severance amounts to employees and pay a lump sum to the municipality in lieu of taxes.”

Lekachman, returning from military service in the Pacific in World War II, went into business but found he had little aptitude for it. “What do you do if you’re 26 and have no business interest,” he said. “Naturally, you go to graduate school as an alternative to unemployment, though it’s not entirely different from unemployment. And I went back to economics.”


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