Economist, Speaker and Author
In 1980, Todd Buchholz came across an ad in National Review for Young America’s Foundation’s 2nd annual National Conservative Student Conference. The then-Bucknell University sophomore found he could not pass by the chance to visit our nation’s capital and hear from leading conservatives.
“I found the retreat to be a neat antidote to the typical left-wing blather that dominated campuses,” reflects Buchholz. “I must say, being a budding economist, I was also attracted by the fabulously low price for a visit to D.C.!”
During that conference, Buchholz and his 67 peers from around the country were introduced to conservative ideas and instructed on international relations and economics from leading professors including military expert Dr. Alan Ned Sabrosky and economist Dr. James Gwartney.
A few years later, Todd Buchholz returned to our nation’s capital to intern at Young America’s Foundation’s National Headquarters—an opportunity that enabled him to meet President Reagan and attend a Rose Garden reception with the President and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat.
“I remember laying out the format for Libertas,” Buchholz notes of his Foundation internship in 1983. “That was back in ancient times before Apple Computer revolutionized typesetting! I also recall reporting on those ‘troublesome’ upstart undergrads at Dartmouth, Dinesh D’Souza and Laura Ingraham.”
Buchholz’s internship was only the beginning of his work in Washington; less than a decade later, he returned to serve in President George H.W. Bush’s administration as director of economic policy.
Buchholz credits his father’s civic involvement and family discussions “around the dining room table” for igniting his interest in public policy. “But after the Vietnam War, when I was in junior high and high school, I realized that you could not intelligently discuss politics without understanding economics, too,” says Buchholz. “Reagan, at that time, was known as a conservative cold warrior but soon captured our imaginations for his economic policies as well.”
Buchholz’s eagerness to advance President Reagan’s conservative beliefs and further his own understanding of economics brought him to Harvard and Cambridge Universities where he earned advanced degrees. He eventually joined the Harvard faculty before serving in the Bush administration from 1989-1992.
“I can thank Reagan chief economic adviser Martin Feldstein and future [Federal Reserve] Governor Larry Lindsey for introducing me to Bush,” says Buchholz. “I had taught economics at Harvard under Marty, and he wrote the foreword to my first book. During the 1988 campaign against Mike Dukakis, Marty and Larry were looking to recruit smart economists. Somehow, my name showed up on a list. Of course, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it might have been a small piece of paper!”
Buchholz says his best day at the White House was the day that Saddam Hussein and his troops rushed in retreat out of Kuwait. “Though Reagan had captured my heart, I remember being thankful for [President] Bush’s impressive diplomatic skills as he assembled a global coalition against Saddam Hussein…I remember thinking it was a wonderful thing to help liberate a people.”
Today, with the younger Bush in the Oval Office, Buchholz highlights the differences between George H.W. Bush’s policies and those of his son. “When George W. [Bush] won election, many people assumed he would be the anti-Clinton. I told them that was wrong. He would be the anti-G.H.W. Bush. He would cut taxes, instead of raising them. Speak loudly, not diplomatically, about the overwhelming benefits of democratic capitalism. The differences were greater than that, though. Some for the good; some for the worse. [George H.W. Bush’s administration] caved to tax hikes. George W. Bush has, of course, cut taxes but also refused to battle Congress on spending, especially in the first term. Now, the deficit is looking better, but Congress got away with far too much pork-barreling in the past six years.”
In addition to his work at the White House and Harvard University, Buchholz has served as managing director of the $15 billion Tiger hedge fund and authored numerous books that are used in universities nationwide. His works include Market Shock: 9 Economic and Social Upheavals that Will Shake our Financial Future,
New Ideas from Dead Economists, and From Here To Economy. His newest books, New Ideas From Dead CEos and The Castro Gene—a novel exploring the underside of global investing—were released in May 2007. In addition to writing, Buchholz is a sought-after lecturer and frequent commentator on ABC News, PBS, and CBS.
When asked which economists influenced him the most, the answer comes easily: Milton Friedman. “People should understand that not only was Milton brilliant and brave, but he was kind to students,” says Buchholz who recalls receiving personal letters from Friedman in reply to questions he sent him as an undergraduate. “When, as a graduate student, I was writing New Ideas from Dead Economists, he read chapters, made extensive comments, and then introduced me to Nobel Laureate Ronald Coase for further insights. Finally, Milton gave me a great blurb for the back of the book, all the while telling me that I was too kind to him!”
So, it’s no surprise that an accomplished graduate of Young America’s Foundation’s programs would have advice for those who may follow in his footsteps. He advises today’s young activists to read Friedrich Hayek—“even if they don’t like economics.” He also suggests reading Allan Bloom’s The Closing
of the American Mind and Marx’s Communist Manifesto, “so you know what we may be up against!”
Buchholz shares his well-honed financial advice with his fellow Foundation alumni: “The nice thing about studying economics is that the more you learn, the less it makes sense to worry about which stock to buy! By and large, efficient markets give signals that coordinate risk and expected return. Generally, I’m bullish on the U.S. and the markets in the long term, so long as we do not slide back to 1970s style regulations. Adam Smith got it right. People are motivated by a desire to better their lives and the lives of their families. As long as most Americans get up in the morning and try to do this, investing in America will make sense.”
Todd Buchholz has greatly invested his own time and service in our country and the Conservative Movement since his days as a Bucknell undergrad and Foundation intern. In an essay the future economist and author wrote for Young America’s Foundation in the early 1980s, his words foretold a desire to do the great work he has since accomplished. He wrote, “Since elementary school, three strains have run through my thinking…They are a profound interest in government, a pride in my country, [and] an ability and desire to communicate the first two in spoken and written words… Through my writing I have sought to persuade others that, despite what my professors might say, to believe in and work for America is to support noble principles.” Through his writing and much more, Todd Buchholz has done just that.