Kenneth Rogoff

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Ken Rogoff
Kenneth Rogoff.jpg
Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund
In office
August 2001 September 2003
President Horst Köhler
Preceded by Michael Mussa
Succeeded by Raghuram Rajan
Personal details
Born (1953-03-22) March 22, 1953 (age 67)
Rochester, New York, U.S.
Evelyn Brody(m. 19791989)

Natasha Lance(m. 1995)
Education Yale University (BA, MA)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD)
Website University website
Academic career
Institution Harvard University
Field Financial economics
Rudi Dornbusch [2]
Gita Gopinath [3]
Influences James Tobin
Stanley Fischer
Jerry Hausman
Jagdish Bhagwati
[ citation needed ]
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Kenneth Saul "Ken" Rogoff (born March 22, 1953) is an American economist and chess Grandmaster. He is the Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics at Harvard University.


Early life

Rogoff grew up in Rochester, New York. His father was a Professor of Radiology at the University of Rochester.

Rogoff received a BA and MA from Yale University summa cum laude in 1975, and a PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980.


At sixteen Rogoff dropped out of high school to concentrate on chess. He won the United States Junior Championship in 1969 and spent the next several years living primarily in Europe and playing in tournaments there. However, at eighteen he made the decision to go to college and pursue a career in economics rather than to become a professional player, although he continued to play and improve for several years afterward. Rogoff was awarded the IM title in 1974, and the GM title in 1978. He was 3rd in the World Junior Championship of 1971 and finished 2nd in the US Championship of 1975, which doubled as a Zonal competition, a half point behind Walter Browne; this result qualified him for the 1976 Interzonal at Biel where he finished 13–15th. In other tournaments, he drew for first at Norristown in 1973 and at Orense in 1976. [4] He has also drawn individual games against former world champions Mikhail Tal [5] and Tigran Petrosian. [6] In 2012 he drew a blitz game with the world's highest rated player Magnus Carlsen. [7]


Early in his career, Rogoff served as an economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Rogoff was the Charles and Marie Robertson Professor of International Affairs at Princeton University. [8]

In 2002, Rogoff was in the spotlight because of a dispute with Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank and 2001 Nobel Prize winner. After Stiglitz criticized the IMF in his book, Globalization and Its Discontents, Rogoff replied in an open letter. [9] He is also a regular contributor to Project Syndicate since 2002.

2008 near-meltdown

Fellow economist Alan Blinder credits both Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart with describing highly relevant aspects of the 2008 financial institution near-meltdown and resulting serious recession. [10]

In a normal recession such as 1991 or 2000, the Keynesian tools of tax cuts and infrastructure spending (fiscal stimulus), as well as lowered interest rates (monetary stimulus), will usually right the economic ship in a matter of months and lead to recovery and economic expansion. Even the serious recession of 1982, which Blinder states "was called the Great Recession in its day," fits comfortably within this category of a normal recession which will respond to the standard tools. [10]

By contrast, the 2008 near-meltdown destroyed parts of the financial system and left other parts reeling and in serious need of de-leveraging. Large amounts of governmental debt, household debt, corporate debt, and financial institution debt were left in its wake. And because of this debt, the normal tools of tax cuts and increased infrastructure spending were somewhat less available and/or politically difficult to achieve. (Fiscal policy at times even ended up becoming pro-cyclical, which it was in some European countries under austerity policies.) In the United States, economist Paul Krugman argued that even the combination of the Oct. 2008 bailout plus the Feb. 2009 bailout was not big enough, although Blinder states that they were large compared to previous bailouts. And, since interest rates were already near zero, the standard monetary tool of lowering rates was not going to provide much help. [10]

Recovery from what Blinder terms a Reinhart-Rogoff recession may require debt forgiveness, either directly, or implicitly through encouraging somewhat higher than normal rates of inflation. "Not your father’s recovery policies," writes Blinder. [10]

Criticism and controversy

In April 2013, Rogoff was at the center of worldwide attention with Carmen Reinhart (coauthor of the book This Time is Different) when their widely cited study "Growth in a Time of Debt" was shown to contain computation errors which critics claim undermine its central thesis that too much debt causes recession. [11] [12] An analysis by Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash and Robert Pollin argued that "coding errors, selective exclusion of available data, and unconventional weighting of summary statistics led to serious errors that inaccurately represent the relationship between public debt and GDP growth among 20 advanced economies in the post-war period." [13] [14] Their calculations demonstrated that some high debt countries grew at 2.2 percent, rather than the −0.1 percent figure initially cited by Reinhart and Rogoff. [13] Rogoff and Reinhart claimed that their fundamental conclusions were accurate after correcting the coding errors detected by their critics. [15] [16] They disavowed their claim that a 90% government debt-to-GDP ratio is a specific tipping point for growth outcomes. [17] The subject remains controversial, because of the political ramifications of the research, though in Rogoff and Reinhart's words "[t]he politically charged discussion ... has falsely equated our finding of a negative association between debt and growth with an unambiguous call for austerity." [17]


2004: Council on Foreign Relations
Economic Advisory Panel of the Federal Reserve.
National Academy of Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2008: Group of Thirty.


His book This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, which he co-authored with Carmen Reinhart, was released in October 2009. [18]

In The Curse of Cash, published in 2016, he urged that the United States phase out the 100-dollar bill, then the 50-dollar bill, then the 20-dollar bill, leaving only smaller denominations in circulation. [19]

Related Research Articles

International Monetary Fund International financial institution

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., consisting of 189 countries working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world while periodically depending on the World Bank for its resources. Formed in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference primarily by the ideas of Harry Dexter White and John Maynard Keynes, it came into formal existence in 1945 with 29 member countries and the goal of reconstructing the international payment system. It now plays a central role in the management of balance of payments difficulties and international financial crises. Countries contribute funds to a pool through a quota system from which countries experiencing balance of payments problems can borrow money. As of 2016, the fund had XDR 477 billion.

In economics, a recession is a business cycle contraction when there is a general decline in economic activity. Recessions generally occur when there is a widespread drop in spending. This may be triggered by various events, such as a financial crisis, an external trade shock, an adverse supply shock, the bursting of an economic bubble, or a large-scale natural or anthropogenic disaster. In the United States, it is defined as "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the market, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales". In the United Kingdom, it is defined as a negative economic growth for two consecutive quarters.

Austerity is a set of political-economic policies that aim to reduce government budget deficits through spending cuts, tax increases, or a combination of both. Austerity measures are used by governments that find it difficult to pay their debts. The measures are meant to reduce the budget deficit by bringing government revenues closer to expenditures, which is assumed to make the payment of debt easier. Austerity measures also demonstrate a government's fiscal discipline to creditors and credit rating agencies.

<i>Globalization and Its Discontents</i> 2002 non-fiction book by Joseph E. Stiglitz

Globalization and Its Discontents is a book published in 2002 by the 2001 Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz.

Alan Blinder economist

Alan Stuart Blinder ( is an American economist who is a professor at Princeton University and served as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System under Bill Clinton.

Household debt

Household debt is defined as the combined debt of all people in a household. It includes consumer debt and mortgage loans. A significant rise in the level of this debt coincides historically with many severe economic crises and was a cause of the U.S. and subsequent European economic crises of 2007–2012. Several economists have argued that lowering this debt is essential to economic recovery in the U.S. and selected Eurozone countries.

Debt-to-GDP ratio ratio between a countrys government debt (measured in units of currency) and its gross domestic product (GDP)

In economics, the debt-to-GDP ratio is the ratio between a country's government debt and its gross domestic product (GDP). A low debt-to-GDP ratio indicates an economy that produces and sells goods and services sufficient to pay back debts without incurring further debt. Geopolitical and economic considerations – including interest rates, war, recessions, and other variables – influence the borrowing practices of a nation and the choice to incur further debt. It should not be confused with a deficit-to-GDP ratio, which, for countries running budget deficits, measures a country's annual net fiscal loss in a given year as a percentage share of that country's GDP; for countries running budget surpluses, a surplus-to-GDP ratio measures a country's annual net fiscal gain as a share of that country's GDP.

Robert Pollin American economist

Robert Pollin is an American economist. He is a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and founding co-director of its Political Economy Research Institute (PERI). He has been described as a leftist economist and is a supporter of egalitarianism.

Thomas Herndon American economist

Thomas Herndon is an assistant professor of economics at Loyola Marymount University, who, as a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, became known for critiquing "Growth in a Time of Debt", a widely cited academic paper by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff supporting the austerity policies implemented by governments in Europe and North America in the early 21st century. His research concluded that these measures may not have been necessary.

Alberto Alesina economist

Alberto Francesco Alesina is an Italian political economist. He has published much-cited books and articles in major economics journals.

At the micro-economic level, deleveraging refers to the reduction of the leverage ratio, or the percentage of debt in the balance sheet of a single economic entity, such as a household or a firm. It is the opposite of leveraging, which is the practice of borrowing money to acquire assets and multiply gains and losses.

Financial repression comprises "policies that result in savers earning returns below the rate of inflation" in order to allow banks to "provide cheap loans to companies and governments, reducing the burden of repayments". It can be particularly effective at liquidating government debt denominated in domestic currency. It can also lead to a large expansions in debt "to levels evoking comparisons with the excesses that generated Japan’s lost decade and the 1997 Asian financial crisis".

Great Recession Early 21st-century global economic decline

The Great Recession was a period of marked general decline (recession) observed in national economies globally during the late 2000s. The scale and timing of the recession varied from country to country. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) formerly concluded that it was the most severe economic and financial meltdown since the Great Depression.

Carmen Reinhart American economist

Carmen M. Reinhart is an American economist and the Minos A. Zombanakis Professor of the International Financial System at Harvard Kennedy School. Previously, she was the Dennis Weatherstone Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. and Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for International Economics at the University of Maryland. She is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research, Founding Contributor of VoxEU, and a member of Council on Foreign Relations. She is also member of American Economic Association, Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association, and the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy. She became the subject of general news coverage when mathematical errors were found in a research paper she co-authored.

European debt crisis Multi-year debt crisis in multiple EU countries, since late 2009

The European debt crisis is a multi-year debt crisis that has been taking place in the European Union since the end of 2009. Several eurozone member states were unable to repay or refinance their government debt or to bail out over-indebted banks under their national supervision without the assistance of third parties like other eurozone countries, the European Central Bank (ECB), or the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Greek government-debt crisis economic crisis

The Greek government-debt crisis was the sovereign debt crisis faced by Greece in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007–08. Widely known in the country as The Crisis, it reached the populace as a series of sudden reforms and austerity measures that led to impoverishment and loss of income and property, as well as a small-scale humanitarian crisis. In all, the Greek economy suffered the longest recession of any advanced capitalist economy to date, overtaking the US Great Depression. As a result, the Greek political system has been upended, social exclusion increased, and hundreds of thousands of well-educated Greeks have left the country.

The Great Recession in the United States was a severe financial crisis combined with a deep recession. While the recession officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, it took many years for the economy to recover to pre-crisis levels of employment and output. This slow recovery was due in part to households and financial institutions paying off debts accumulated in the years preceding the crisis along with restrained government spending following initial stimulus efforts. It followed the bursting of the housing bubble, the housing market correction and subprime mortgage crisis.

The 2010–2014 Portuguese financial crisis was part of the wider downturn of the Portuguese economy that started in 2001 and possibly ended in 2016–17. The period from 2010 to 2014 was probably the hardest and more challenging part of the entire economic crisis; this period includes the 2011–14 international bailout to Portugal and was marked by an intense austerity policy, intenser than in any other period of the wider 2001–17 crisis. Economic growth stalled in Portugal in 2001–02; following years of internal economic crisis, the (international) Great Recession started to hit Portugal in 2008 and eventually led to the country being unable to repay or refinance its government debt without the assistance of third parties. To prevent an insolvency situation in the debt crisis, Portugal applied in April 2011 for bail-out programs and drew a cumulated €78.0 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM), and the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). Portugal exited the bailout in May 2014, the same year that positive economic growth re-appeared following three years of recession. The government achieved a 2.1% budget deficit in 2016 and in 2017 the economy grew 2.7%.

Proposed long-term solutions for the Eurozone crisis

The proposed long-term solutions for the Eurozone crisis involve ways to deal with the ongoing Eurozone crisis and the risks to Eurozone country governments and the Euro. They try and deal with the difficulty that some countries in the euro area have experience trying to repay or re-finance their government debt without the assistance of third parties. The solutions range from tighter fiscal union, the issuing of Eurozone bonds to debt write-offs, each of which has both financial and political implications, meaning no solution has found favour with all parties involved.

Growth in a Time of Debt, also known by its authors' names as Reinhart–Rogoff, is an economics paper by American economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff published in a non peer-reviewed issue of the American Economic Review in 2010. Politicians, commentators, and activists widely cited the paper in political debates over the effectiveness of austerity in fiscal policy for debt-burdened economies. The paper argues that when "gross external debt reaches 60 percent of GDP", a country's annual growth declined by two percent, and "for levels of external debt in excess of 90 percent" GDP growth was "roughly cut in half." Appearing in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007–2008, the evidence for the 90%-debt threshold hypothesis provided support for pro-austerity policies.


  1. "WEDDINGS; Natasha S. Lance, Kenneth S. Rogoff". The New York Times. 1995-06-25.
  2. "Essays on expectations and exchange rate volatility" (PDF).
  3. "Gita Gopinath's Curriculum Vitae" (PDF).
  4. "Kenneth Rogoff". Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  5. "Mikhail Tal vs Kenneth Rogoff". Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  6. "Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian vs Kenneth Rogoff". Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  7. Kavalek, Lubomir (September 5, 2012). "Magnus Carlsen Storms New York's Chess Scene". The Huffington Post . Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  8. "Kenneth Rogoff". Institute for New Economic Thinking. Archived from the original on June 27, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  9. Rogoff, Kenneth (July 2, 2002). "An Open Letter". IMF . Retrieved May 4, 2013.
  10. 1 2 3 4 "What Did We Learn from the Financial Crisis, the Great Recession, and the Pathetic Recovery?," Alan S. Blinder, Princeton University Griswold Center for Economic Policy Studies Working Paper No. 243, November 2014.
  11. Alexander, Ruth (April 19, 2013). "Reinhart, Rogoff... and Herndon: The student who caught out the profs". BBC News . Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  12. "How Much Unemployment Was Caused by Reinhart and Rogoff's Arithmetic Mistake?". Center for Economic and Policy Research. April 16, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  13. 1 2 Herndon, Thomas; Ash, Michael; Pollin, Robert (April 15, 2013). "Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff" (PDF). Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 18, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2013.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. "Austerity's Spreadsheet Error - The Colbert Report (Video Clip)". Comedy Central. Retrieved 2019-05-18.
  15. "Reinhart "Reinhart-Rogoff Initial Response", Financial Times blog, April 16, 2013 (subscription required)
  16. Inman, Phillip (April 17, 2013). "Rogoff and Reinhart defend their numbers". The Guardian . Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  17. 1 2 "Debt, Growth and the Austerity Debate"], op-ed by Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff, The New York Times , April 25, 2013
  18. Rampell, Catherine (July 4, 2010), "They Did Their Homework (800 Years of It)", The New York Times
  19. Coy, Peter (September 7, 2016). "This Harvard Economist Is Trying to Kill Cash". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 2016-09-07.
Business positions
Preceded by
Michael Mussa
IMF Chief Economist
Succeeded by
Raghuram Rajan