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Economic Thinkers

People in Economics

Profiles of prominent figures in the fields of economics and finance.

A compilation of interviews published in F&D magazine of Nobel prize winners, policymakers, and intellectual leaders around the world in the fields of finance and economics.
List by: Nobel prize winners, or Policymakers

The Fixer
Alvin E. Roth Alvin E. Roth, leading game theorist, by Maureen Burke

A pioneer in the field of market design, Roth uses the mathematical tools of game theory to find practical solutions to real-world problems.
webcast Tour Roth’s lab at Stanford

Path Breaker
Kenneth Arrow Kenneth Arrow, pathbreaking theorist whose work cut across many areas of economics

Arrow's work following World War II was the cornerstone for successive generations of economists in both theoretical and applied research, with his theories on general equilibrium, welfare, and social choice leading the way.

Labor Rewarded
Christopher Pissarides Christopher Pissarides, visionary on the economics of unemployment

Pissarides helped transform the way economists view labor markets. Understanding unemployment has been his life’s work since the 1970s.

The Queen of Numbers
Lucrezia Reichlin Lucrezia Reichlin, pioneer in real-time short-term forecasting

Reichlin, a pioneer in harnessing big data for real-time short-term economic forecasting, was the first female head of research at the European Central Bank. Chair of the economics department at the London Business School, she also sits on the board of UniCredit, an Italian bank active in central and eastern Europe.

The Pragmatic Idealist
Peter Blair Henry Peter Blair Henry, Dean of New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business

As a child in Jamaica, Henry experienced firsthand what happens when leaders pursue misguided economic policies. Today, as Dean of New York University's business school, he continues to study why some countries are rich and others are poor—and how business can help.
webcast Henry on austerity and growth
webcast Third world lessons for first world growth


A Class Act
Stanley Fischer Stanley Fischer, central bank governor extraordinaire, by Prakash Loungani

During his tenure in academia, Fischer established himself as a preeminent macroeconomist before taking on the job as chief economist at the World Bank. As the IMF's deputy in the 1990s, he dealt with economic, financial, and debt crises in countries the world over.
webcast Stanley Fischer on Charlie Rose show


Solving History’s Puzzles
Carmen Reinhart Carmen Reinhart, Harvard economist, by James L. Rowe Jr.

The profession’s most-cited female and co-author of one of the most important economics books of the past decade, Reinhart relies on empirics to solve economic puzzles.

The $787 Billion Question
Christina Romer Christina Romer, former chair of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers, by Maureen Burke

Taking up the role of chair of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers in 2009—in the midst of unprecedented economic uncertainty—Romer grappled with the most severe downturn since the Great Depression. Now back at Berkeley, she continues to advocate decisive government action to boost employment.
webcast Romer on monetary policy

A Project in Every Port
Jeffrey Sachs Jeffrey Sachs, peripatetic development economist, by Prakash Loungani

Sachs played key economic advisory roles in governments the world over—offering solutions on transitioning to capitalism or fighting hyperinflation, but he has become more widely known and recognized for his tireless crusade against poverty.
webcast Angelina Jolie travels with Jeffrey Sachs

The Man with the Patience to Cook a Stone
Justin Yifu Lin Justin Yifu Lin, first World Bank Chief Economist from a developing or emerging economy

From humble beginnings, Lin’s talent and tenacity helped him rise to success as one of China’s top economists. His “New Structural Economics” has spurred dialogue and a rethinking among development economists as to how governments can strategically target industrial development.
webcast Lin’s book launch

Minder of the Gaps
Laura Tyson Laura Tyson, first woman to head the U.S. Council of Economic Advisors, by Jeremy Clift

As an architect of President Clinton’s economic policy, Tyson promoted “aggressive unilateralism” in trade. Now, based at the University of California, Berkeley, she continues to identify ways to promote growth in the face of global competition and technological change.
webcast Tyson on gender equality
webcast Tyson on education

An American Globalist
C. Fred Bergsten C. Fred Bergsten, Peterson Institute founder, by Prakash Loungani

From positions in the Nixon and Carter administrations in the 1970s to inaugurating and heading up what would become one of the preeminent economic think tanks world-wide, Bergsten has devoted much of his life to furthering global economic integration.
webcast Bergsten on video

Second Time Around
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former World Bank Managing Director, by Jeremy Clift

Okonjo-Iweala returned to Nigeria in 2011 to take on the role of Nigeria’s economic czar. Growing up in the midst of a civil war instilled a sense of determination and hard work that she has taken with her throughout a successful career in development economics.

The Master Artisan
Elinor Ostrom Elinor Ostrom, first woman to win economics Nobel, by Maureen Burke

Heralding a cooperative and interdisciplinary approach herself, Ostrom has amassed a body of work examining social norms and what makes people cooperate—including to the extent that they avoid “tragedy of the commons” outcomes, situations previously accepted by many economists as unavoidable.

The Human Face of Economics
George Akerlof George Akerlof, Berkeley professor and founder of identity economics, by Prakash Loungani

Well known for his early work on the economic consequences of information asymmetries, Akerlof’s long career at Berkeley also yielded a body of work in which he used innovative ways to look at unemployment. He has also been a perennial voice calling for sensible government regulation in the banking sector.
webcast George Akerlof on Identity Economics

Residual Brilliance
Robert Solow Robert Solow, giant in the field of economic growth theory, by Atish Rex Ghosh

Solow looked at the sources of growth—capital, labor, and technological progress, finding the latter to be the main driver of long-term growth. For decades, his work has influenced governments’ policies across the world as they look to increase funding for technological research to spur economic growth.
webcast Robert Solow on reshaping economics

Fun & Games
Avinash Dixit Avinash Dixit, economic theorist, by Jeremy Clift

Dixit’s work on modeling economic behavior under the conditions of “monopolistic competition” became a foundation for research in the field. As a long-time professor at Princeton, Dixit pursued research interests ranging from game theory to international trade to the role of democratic institutions in economic development.

Undercover Operator
Maria Ramos, academic-turned-Treasury mandarin, by Simon Willson

From key positions in the South African finance ministry, Ramos adeptly charted the policy options needed to help the country attain fiscal stability in the 1990s following its transition to democracy. Later as a bank chief executive, she applied the same brand of pragmatism and vigor as she had during her government years.

The Unlikely Revolutionary
Jang Hasung, Dean of Korea University, by Hyun-Sung Khang

Business professor, but activist at heart, Jang established himself as a crusader for corporate reform seeking greater accountability and transparency in the giant, family-run conglomerates of Korea.

Breacher of the Peace
Daron Acemoglu, Istanbul-born economist, by Simon Willson

Beyond economics, Acemoglu’s varied research interests have included a wide spectrum of political economy subjects. Raising questions on how economics and politics intersect, he often takes unique approaches by explaining topics, such as democracy, from an economic perspective.

The People’s Professor
Joseph Stiglitz, former World Bank Chief Economist, by Prakash Loungani

Having amassed a body of work examining the rather profound effects that the adequacy and availability of information has on economic transactions, Stiglitz also played a key role as chairman of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisors in the 1990s.
webcast Stiglitz on Iceland
webcast Stiglitz on reshaping economics
webcast Michael Spence on reshaping economics

Questioning a Chastened Priesthood
Daniel Kahneman, psychologist who helped build the field of behavioral economics, by Jeremy Clift

Well known for his pioneering work integrating aspects of psychological research into economic science, Kahneman’s work is regarded as having laid the foundation for a new field of economic research—behavioral economics.

Still the Bottom Billion
Paul Collier, Director for the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, by Glenn Gottselig

Eternal advocate for the “bottom billion” living in the world’s poorest countries, Oxford University professor Paul Collier offers a prescription for helping lift low-income countries to higher levels of economic development.

Seeing Crises Clearly
Nouriel Roubini, founder of RGE Monitor, by Prakash Loungani

As one of the few voices that predicted many of the events leading to the 2008-09 global economic crisis, Roubini captured the attention of the economics profession. A professor at New York University, he also heads a global economic and market strategy research firm.

From Visionary to Innovator
Robert J. Shiller, best-selling author, by Paolo Mauro

Well known beyond the worlds of finance and economics thanks to the indices on home prices that bear his name, Yale professor Robert Shiller has studied and written extensively on the factors leading to bubbles in the economy.

The Catch-Up Game
Michael Spence, former Dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business, by Archana Kumar

Spence, best known for his groundbreaking work explaining how employees and employers interact, also served as Chair of the Commission on Growth Development, which had been tasked with determining strategies for sustainable growth.

Rise of the Undaunted Empiricist
Beatrice Weder di Mauro, first woman on Council of Economic Experts, by Simon Willson

Known for her direct and persistent style of inquiry and research, Weder di Mauro brought to the German Council of Economic Experts a record as a pathfinder in exploring the role of banks in transmitting financial contagion.

A Legacy of Model Elegance
Jacques Polak, former IMF chief economist, by James L. Rowe

A student amidst the Depression era and later signing on to work at a newly-created IMF, Polak became an economic force of the 20th century, pioneering the research that would become the basic economic approach of the IMF.

The Quest for Rules
John Taylor, former member of the Council of Economic Advisors, by Prakash Loungani

Best known for his namesake rule that described the response of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate target to inflation and business cycles, Taylor gained notoriety as the result of his simple equation‘s wide acceptance among central banks as a useful guide for policy.

Harnessing Ideas to Idealism
Michael Kremer, innovator on public policy problems, by Arvind Subramanian

Kremer, who helped pioneer the creation of a new instrument to boost the development of vaccines by securing advance promises to pay for them, also helped introduce a major methodological innovation in empirical development economics: the randomized evaluation of public policy interventions.

Topping the Charts
Robert Barro, one of the founders of new classical macroeconomics, by Prakash Loungani

As one of the ringleaders of the Chicago School–led revolution, Barro and his work became well known to scholars and policymakers in the 1970s, who were at that time reconsidering the Keynsian approach that centered on a government's ability to smooth out business cycles.

A Master of Theory and Practice
Guillermo A. Calvo, former chief economist at the Inter-American Development Bank, by James L. Rowe

As one of the preeminent scholars of both modern macroeconomic theory and the economics of emerging markets, Calvo contributed to the critique that incorporated people's expectations about policy, provided insights into time inconsistency and credibility issues, and sought better modeling of the economy to account for such distortions as "sticky prices."

Navigating Unchartered Waters
Otmar Issing, first chief economist of the European Central Bank, by Camilla Andersen

Issing helped set the course for the European Central Bank to become one of the most credible and powerful central banks in the world, adeptly navigating uncharted waters as the institution sought to implement inflation goals for the newly created euro area.

Ahead of His Time
Robert Mundell, former advisor to the UN, IMF, and World Bank, by Laura Wallace

A pioneer of modern international economics and inspiration to a generation of researchers, Mundell has been lauded for his analysis of monetary and fiscal policy under different exchange rate regimes and his analysis of optimum currency areas.

Economist as Crusader
Paul Krugman, winner of both the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes, by Arvind Subramanian

Economics made Krugman famous; punditry made him a celebrity. As a hard-hitting political columnist Krugman has made influential contributions to both international trade theory and international macroeconomics.

The Quiet Integrationist
Haruhiko Kuroda, head of the Asian Development Bank, by Jeremy Clift

As President of the Asian Development Bank, Kuroda set in motion an ambitious agenda for a new financial architecture for Asia, all the while addressing the risks of a bird flu pandemic, the effects of the Asian tsunami, and a deadly earthquake in Pakistan.

Economics with a Social Face
Nora Lustig, Latin American development economist, by Conny Lotze

Lustig has been in the vanguard of development economists who not only insisted on the link between poverty reduction and macroeconomic policy, but also advocated well-targeted social policies to help the poor break out of poverty for good.

The Globalization Guru
Jagdish Bhagwati, founder of the International Journal of Economics, by Arvind Subramanian

Abandoning law for economics at when he began his studies at Cambridge University, Bhagwati went on to become a leading economist in the area of trade and development and a tireless opponent of protectionism and advocate of free trade.

Super Mario and the Temple of Learning
Mario Monti, former President of Bocconi University, by Jeremy Clift

As the EU’s former Commissioner for Competition, Monti left a lasting legacy on both the corporate world and competition policy. As the first chairman of Bruegel, he continued to shape European and global economic policymaking.

Managing the Currency of an 'Out' Country
Bodil Nyboe Andersen, former Denmark central bank governor, by Camilla Andersen

After her stint as a lecturer at Copenhagen University, Andersen went on to serve on the management board of Unibank, Denmark’s second largest bank. As central bank governor of Denmark, she presided over the bank during a tumultuous time.

In on the Ground Floor
Linah Mohohlo, Botswana central bank governor, by Jacqueline Irving

Beyond her achievements in managing Botswana's monetary policy, Mohohlo also played a role in the private sector, sitting on the boards of several major companies, and has been an influential voice calling for action from the international community on issues such as development aid, fair trade, and debt relief.

Freedom as Progress
Amartya Sen, inventor of better measures of poverty, by Laura Wallace

Known for restoring “an ethical dimension” to the discussion of vital economic problems by combining tools from economics and philosophy, Sen’s contributions to social choice theory, welfare economics, and economic measurement have been seminal.

Budget Guru Takes a Stand
Alice Rivlin, former vice-chair of the Fenderal Reserve, by Elisa Diehl

With more than 30 years in service in the U.S. government, Rivlin was the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office and also served in the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Getting There First
Martin Feldstein, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, by Prakash Loungani

Feldstein made a lifelong study of the effects of taxes and social insurance while also pioneering the new field of health economics. In his tenure as president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, he led in the revitalization of the Bureau as a top-notch think tank.

Hearing the Dogs Bark
Hernando de Soto, best-selling author, by Jeremy Clift

As founder of the Lima-based think tank, the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, de Soto argued that the key to both defeating international terrorism and securing capitalism is enabling poor entrepreneurs across the developing world to become part of the system rather than excluded from it by bureaucracy and red tape.

Putting Economic Policy to the Test
Esther Duflo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics professor, by Asimina Caminis

As a development economist and one of the co-founders of the Poverty Action Lab, Duflo challenges some of the cherished assumptions on which many development policies are based.

Concentrating the Mind
Allan H. Meltzer, expert on development and applications of monetary policy, by Jeremy Clift

Meltzer, who briefly served in the U.S. Treasury during the presidency of John F. Kennedy and later was an advisor to Ronald Reagan, is regarded as one of the icons of American economics.

The Lab Man
Vernon Smith, senior fellow at Cato Institute, by Jeremy Clift

As a pioneer in the use of experimenting in the controlled environment of a laboratory to test economic theories, Smith’s work helped shift the perception of economics as a nonexperimental science that had to rely on observation of real-world economies rather than the controlled experiments.

Challenges of the New Millennium
John Kenneth Galbraith, former president of the American Economic Association, by Asimina Caminis

Longtime professor of economics at Harvard University, Galbraith offers his views on the inherent instability of capitalism, why democracy is important for economic growth, and how financial crises offer the opportunity to “clean up” incompetence in the banking system, the industrial system, and, to some extent, in government.

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