Stephen Haber

A.A. and Jeanne Welch Milligan Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Professor of Political Science, Professor of History, Professor (by courtesy) of Economics at Stanford University, and Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution

haberStephen Haber is the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the A.A. and Jeanne Welch Milligan Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. In addition, he is a professor of political science, professor of history, and professor of economics (by courtesy), as well as a senior fellow of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. Haber directs the Hoover Institution Working Group on Intellectual Property, Innovation, and Prosperity (IP²).

Haber is among Stanford’s most distinguished teachers, having been awarded every teaching prize Stanford has to offer. He is the only member of the Stanford faculty to have been awarded the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching (twice, in 1992 and again in 2002), the Stanford Medal for Faculty Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research, the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize, the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Outstanding Service to Undergraduate Education, and the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching, which is Stanford’s highest teaching honor. Haber’s abilities as a teacher and mentor were acknowledged by the Economic History Association, which at its 2013 meeting awarded him the Jonathan R. Hughes Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Haber has spent his academic life investigating the political institutions and economic policies that promote innovation and improvements in living standards. Much of that work has focused on how regulatory and supervisory agencies are often used by incumbent firms to stifle competition, thereby curtailing economic opportunities and slowing technological progress. He is the author or coauthor of five books, and the editor of five more. He has also published numerous scholarly articles in a variety of fields, including economics, political science, history, and law.

Haber’s most recent book (coauthored with Charles Calomiris), Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit (Princeton University Press 2014), examines why governments often choose to craft banking regulatory policies in ways that stifle competition and increase systemic risk. Analyzing the political and banking history of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil through several centuries, Fragile by Design demonstrates that chronic banking crises and scarce credit are not accidents due to unforeseen circumstances. Rather, these fluctuations result from the complex bargains made between politicians, bankers, bank shareholders, depositors, debtors, and taxpayers.

Haber is currently at working in two research areas. One of these focuses on the impact of climate and geography on the evolution of societies’ fundamental economic and political institutions. The other focuses on the impact of the patent systems on innovation and competition among firms.

Haber received his B.A. degree from the George Washington University in 1979, and his Ph.D. degree from UCLA in 1985.

In Fragile By Design, Haber and Calomiris combine political history and economics to examine how coalitions of politicians, bankers, and other interest groups form, why some endure while others are undermined, and how they generate policies that determine who gets to be a banker, who has access to credit, and who pays for bank bailouts and rescues.