Robert E. Litan

Nonresident Senior Fellow – Economic Studies, Center on Regulation and Markets

Robert Litan is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where he has previously been a senior fellow on staff, and vice president and director of Economic Studies. His current research focuses on federal regulation, entrepreneurship, and a broad range of economic policy subjects.

Litan is also a practicing attorney, specializing in complex antitrust and business litigation, as a shareholder of Berger Montague, based in Philadelphia. He previously was a partner at Korein Tillery, and practiced law with two Washington, D.C. law firms. He served during the first term of the Clinton administration as principal deputy assistant attorney general in the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department, where he oversaw civil non-merger litigation and the Department’s positions on regulatory matters, primarily in telecommunications.

As both an economist and attorney, Robert Litan has had nearly four decades of experience in the worlds of the law, economic research and policy, and as an executive in both the private, public and government sectors. He has served as vice president for research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation and also the director of research at Bloomberg Government.

Litan currently serves on the advisory board of the American Antitrust Institute, is a consulting economist with Econ One, a national economic consulting firm, and has been a contributing columnist for The Athletic, the nation’s leading online sports media company. He also has advised several startups in the United States and abroad.

Litan is a well-known speaker who has given hundreds of talks during his career before a wide range of audiences in the U.S. and around the world. His TEDxKansas City talk, “An economist walks into a bar,” has been viewed on YouTube over 460,000 times (as of October 2021). He also has consulted for a wide range of private sector and governmental organizations, including the Department of Treasury on financial modernization and the effectiveness of the Community Reinvestment Act, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, and the World Bank. In the early 1990s he served as a member of the Presidential-Congressional Commission on the Causes of the Savings and Loan Crisis. He has chaired two panels of studies for the National Academy of Sciences, and has served on one other NAS Committee. He began his career as a staff economist at the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.

During his research career, Litan has authored or co-authored 27 books and edited another 14, and authored or co-authored numerous articles in professional and popular publications. His latest books are “Resolved: Debate can revolutionize education and help save our democracy” (Brookings Press, 2020); “Financial crises and policy responses” (American Enterprise Institute, 2016); “The good economy” (e-book, published by the Kauffman Foundation and the Roosevelt Institute, 2016, with Bo Cutter and Dane Stangler); and “Trillion dollar economists,” published by Wiley Press in September, 2014. Other recent books include “The need for speed” (Brookings Institution Press, 2013, co-authored with Hal Singer); “Better capitalism,” co-authored with Carl Schramm, published by the Yale University Press in 2012, and “Good capitalism, bad capitalism” (co-authored with William Baumol and Carl Schramm), also published by Yale in 2007, and which is used widely in college courses, and has been translated into 10 languages.

Litan earned his B.S. in economics (summa cum laude) at the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania; his J.D. at Yale Law School; and his M. Phil. and Ph.D. at Yale University. He grew up in Wichita, Kansas and currently lives and works in Lawrence, Kansas (virtually for the organizations identified above). 

  • Past Positions

    • Director of Research, Bloomberg-Gov, Washington, D.C.
    • Vice President, Research and Policy, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
    • Vice President and Director, Economic Studies Program and Cabot Family Chair in Economics, The Brookings Institution
    • Associate Director, U.S. Office of Management Budget
    • Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division, Department of Justice
  • Education

    • B.S., Economics (summa cum laude), Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania
    • J.D.,Yale Law School
    • M. Phil. and PhD, Yale University.
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