Harry Magdoff, 92; Socialist Economist Was Accused of Being a Spy

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Harry Magdoff, 92, a noted socialist economist, author and editor who never answered charges that he was a Soviet spy, died Jan. 1 at his home in Burlington, Vt.

In 1950, Richard M. Nixon, then a congressman, released a report accusing Magdoff of being part of a spy ring that fed secret economic data to the Soviet Union. Magdoff declined to respond to the allegations at a 1953 Senate hearing. He remained silent as details emerged in recent years that some contend added weight to the charges.

For many years, Magdoff was co-editor of the socialist journal Monthly Review with Paul Sweezy, an influential Marxist economist who died in 2004.


Magdoff’s 1969 book “The Age of Imperialism: The Economics of U.S. Foreign Policy,” which argued that the United States had an empire, was translated into 15 languages. He also worked for the Roosevelt and Truman administrations to develop new ways of measuring the productivity of labor.

The son of a house painter, Magdoff was born in New York City in 1913. After being expelled from City College of New York for helping to stage a mock trial of college officials, he completed his undergraduate degree at New York University.