Mission & History

Mission

American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) conducts independent, scientific, economic research to educate individuals, thereby advancing their personal interests and those of the Nation.

“For over 70 years, the American Institute for Economic Research has done a highly credible job tracking U.S. Business cycles.”
Archie Richards, "Money Matters” columnist

The Institute, founded in 1933, represents no fund, concentration of wealth, or other special interests. Advertising is not accepted in its publications. Financial support for the Institute is provided primarily by the small annual fees from several thousand sustaining members, by receipts from sales of its publications, by tax-deductible contributions, and by the earnings of its wholly owned investment advisory organization, American Investment Services, Inc. Experience suggests that information and advice on economic subjects are most useful when they come from a source that is independent of special interests, either commercial or political.

The provisions of the charter and bylaws ensure that neither the Institute itself nor members of its staff may derive profit from organizations or businesses that happen to benefit from the results of Institute research. Institute financial accounts are available for public inspection during normal working hours of the Institute.

History

By 1934, the magnitude of the Great Depression suggested the need for a research organization to inquire into the wide range of economic, social, and monetary developments that had contributed to the catastrophic economic contraction. The hope was that by further developing and applying modern scientific procedures of inquiry, results could be obtained that would be useful to the Nation in avoiding a repetition of the disaster. On the advice of Dr. Vannevar Bush, then vice-president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Col. E. C. Harwood founded American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) to conduct the necessary research.

“Straight-shooting …”
–Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star, CA

Initially AIER was housed in the office of a staff member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but soon expansion required more space. For several years the Institute occupied buildings in Cambridge, Massachusetts that it also soon outgrew.

At the end of the Second World War, Col. E. C. Harwood and Helen Harwood investigated the potential of several "white elephants" in Berkshire County, Massachusetts as a new home for AIER. After successful negotiations, they moved operations to Great Barrington. After several months of preparing the new location, AIER resumed full operation at its new location with plenty of room for future expansion.

"The American Institute for Economic Research is a leading economic forecasting firm."
–Donald Lambro, Washington Times columnist

By 1956 subscription and book sales had outgrown its allotted space. In 1957, the mailing and printing were transferred to an annex. In 1958, a warehouse was added to the annex to accommodate increasing volumes of paper, envelopes, and mail.

To accommodate the expansion of research staff, students, and books, in 1962 a research library was added to the hillside below the annex. Now known as the E. C. Harwood Library, the 20,000 square-foot building contains AIER's principal offices.

AIER's independence from special-interest groups - and its close attention not only to proposed solutions of fundamental economic problems but also to useful procedures of inquiry into those problems - makes AIER unique among economic research organizations. AIER's long-run success attests the need for economic research carried out in such a manner.

Our Founder - E.C. Harwood (1900-1980)

Col. E.C. Harwood

Col. Harwood, a graduate of the United States Military Academy, was serving in the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1920s when he undertook as an avocation the intensive study of economics, with particular emphasis on money-credit problems. He began with economic texts by authors whose names began with "A" and exhausted a library in less than three years. He found chaos among economists' views arising from semantic mires and pre-scientific notions about human "knowledge."

He next began intensive study of what philosophers and logicians had said about knowing, finding there, too, muddled inquiries. Some American philosophers, Charles S. Peirce and William James, were different and had broken with ancient traditions by incorporating scientific procedures. Later, John Dewey and Arthur F. Bentley furthered scientific analysis with their development of a "transactional" approach to "problem solving." Since its beginning, AIER has recognized the importance of developing and adhering to such useful procedures of inquiry as antecedent and inseparably linked to inquiry in all fields, including economics.

In 1928 and 1929 Col. Harwood warned in several articles published in the financial journals that the speculative "boom" then underway was attributable primarily to the excessive creation of purchasing media and that the failure to stop the inflating process would lead to a major "bust."

“Among the most prolific providers of independent economic education in the United States”
–Berkshire Record, MA

By 1933 the magnitude of the Great Depression suggested the need for an independent research organization to inquire into the wide range of economic, social, and monetary developments that had contributed to the catastrophic economic contraction. Col. Harwood deemed necessary that such an organization avoid financial dependence on a few individuals or groups with pet panaceas or special interests. Vice President Vannevar Bush of MIT suggested that an independent research organization offering its results directly to the public might be possible.

With $200 Col. Harwood began operations in 1933. Since its inception, the Institute's publications have enjoyed a wide sale, and thousands of Sustaining Members provide a financial base for its work.

Bylaws

Click here to read the AIER Bylaws.

Our Campus

The Main House

The Institute was originally located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At the end of World War II, founder Edward C. Harwood relocated to a Cotswold cottage-style manor in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The Main House at AIER was built in the late 1920’s.

E.C. Harwood Library

The E.C. Harwood Library was built in 1962 on the hillside below the Main House to accommodate research staff and its extensive library collection. This 10,000 square-foot building was renovated in 2002 and contains the principal offices for the AIER research and support staff.