Shlaes graduated from Yale University magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1982.
Shlaes writes a syndicated column for Bloomberg News. She is a senior fellow in economic history at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her many appearances on television and radio include commentary on public radio for Marketplace.
She wrote columns for the Financial Times for five years, until September, 2005, for which she won the International Policy Network's Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2002. Earlier, she worked at the Wall Street Journal, where she was a member of the editorial board. She has written for The New Yorker, The American Spectator, Commentary Magazine, Foreign Affairs, Forbes, National Review, and The New Republic, among others. Her obituary of Milton Friedman appeared in The New York Sun.
She was awarded the 2007 Deadline Club award for Opinion writing, and the Newswomen's Club of New York's Front Page Award for her Bloomberg columns.
Miss Shlaes teaches an MBA course titled the Economics of the Great Depression at NYU/Stern School of Business. She has lectured at numerous institutions, including Brown university. She is the 2009 winner of the Hayek Prize awarded by the Manhattan Institute.
Her first book was Germany: The Empire Within (ISBN 0-224-02700-X), about Germany at the time of reunification. She followed it with The Greedy Hand: How Taxes Drive Americans Crazy and What to Do About It (ISBN 0-375-50132-0). Her most recent national best-seller is A New History of The Great Depression (ISBN 0-0609-3642-8) devoted to the study of the Great Depression in the United States and the New Deal. This book advances a thesis that both Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt promoted economic policies that were counterproductive and prolonged The Great Depression, in part because of the uncertainty created by inconsistent policymaking.
The Forgotten Man
"The finest history of the Great Depression ever written," raved Steven F. Hayward of the National Review It was a New York Times Bestseller for 19 weeks. However, fiction author John Updike, criticized the book as "a revisionist history of the Depression", and economist Paul Krugman accused her in his New York Times op-ed column of disseminating "misleading statistics";
Shlaes responded to Krugman in the ''[[Wall Street Journal]],'' saying she used the official Lebergott/Bureau of Labor Statistics series. She wrote that Lebergott "intentionally did not include temporary jobs in emergency programs -- because to count a short-term, make-work project as a real job was to mask the anxiety of one who really didn't have regular work with long-term prospects". Shlaes said that if the Obama administration "proposes F.D.R.-style recovery programs, then it is useful to establish whether those original programs actually brought recovery. The answer is, they didn’t." Writing in ''[[Forbes]]'', [[Hudson Institute]] fellow [[Diana Furchtgott-Roth]] endorses Shlaes' view that the "federal spending during the New Deal did not restore economic health."
Other critics of The Forgotten Man include adjunct professor and historian Matthew Dallek, who has called Amity Shlaes a "revisionist" with a "blind view of the New Deal," historian Eric Rauchway who claims Ms. Shlaes ignored historical GDP easily available in the Historical Statistics of the United States, and journalist Jonathan Chait of the New Republic who has called the book self-contradictory, misleading, and inaccurate, notwithstanding its enormous popularity among conservatives.
The International Herald Tribune review by David Leonhardt includes "In a unanimous ruling the court found (a code) to be an unconstitutional expansion of federal authority. On the day of the ruling, Justice Louis Brandeis took aside one of Roosevelt's aides and told him, "This is the end of this business of centralization." The National Recovery Administration, the agency that had gone after the Schechters, soon dropped hundreds of similar cases and closed its doors." Leonhardt continues "other attempts to fine-tune the economy truly did fail." On the other hand, Leonhardt endorses the criticism of Rauchway and others that "Shlaes exaggerates joblessness in the 1930s by counting many people who worked in temporary relief programs as unemployed".