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Understanding Economics

People in Economics -- Policymakers

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

While some of our profiles are of academics and intellectual leaders, others are of prominent policymakers who have made a difference by implementing economic and financial policies or shaping responses to problems.
List by: Most recent, or Nobel prize winners.

Kristin ForbesParallel Paths
Atish Rex Ghosh profiles Kristin Forbes, who straddles academia and policymaking

Nancy BirdsallSwimming Upstream
Ismaila Dieng profiles Nancy Birdsall, founding president of the Center for Global Development

Raghuram RajanFinder of Financial Fault Lines
Raghuram Rajan, the head of the Reserve Bank of India, is a preeminent finance economist and policymaker.
webcast Raghuram Rajan predicting the crisis

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

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.

A Class Act
Stanley Fischer Stanley Fischer, academic and central bank governor extraordinaire, by Prakash Loungani
During his tenure at the University of Chicago and later the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 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.

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

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

Laura Tyson

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, Peterson Institute founder, by Prakash Loungani

C. Fred Bergsten

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.

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

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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