Before NBER: Warren Nutter's Soviet Research at the CIA

42 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2020 Last revised: 3 Jun 2021

See all articles by Daniel Peter Kuehn

Daniel Peter Kuehn

The Urban Institute - Income and Benefits Policy Center

Date Written: July 12, 2020


Warren Nutter’s work as director of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s (NBER’s) Soviet growth project is his best-known contribution to economics and public affairs. Many histories of Sovietology note the oddity of Nutter’s selection as project director, given his apparent lack of prior experience studying the Soviet Union. This paper provides new context for Nutter’s selection to lead the NBER effort. From 1951 to 1952 Warren Nutter was the Acting Chief of the Economic Capabilities Branch of the CIA’s Office of Research and Reports (ORR), and Chairman of the Economic Analysis Subcommittee of the inter-agency Economic Intelligence Committee. In this capacity he managed at least three major research efforts, including an input-output analysis of the Soviet Union and contributions to two national intelligence estimates. Nutter may have been proposed as a director of the NBER project by Robert Amory, the Deputy Director of Intelligence, in 1953. Nutter’s research for the CIA cultivated new analytic capacities for the agency and provided a foundation for Nutter’s future work on the Soviet Union.

Keywords: Warren Nutter, Soviet Union, History of Economics, Index Numbers, Leontief, National Bureau of Economic Research

JEL Classification: B20, B31, P50, H56, D57

Suggested Citation

Kuehn, Daniel Peter, Before NBER: Warren Nutter's Soviet Research at the CIA (July 12, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Daniel Peter Kuehn (Contact Author)

The Urban Institute - Income and Benefits Policy Center ( email )

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