Kenneth Rogoff

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Ken Rogoff
Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund
In office
August 2001 – September 2003
PresidentHorst Köhler
Preceded byMichael Mussa
Succeeded byRaghuram Rajan
Personal details
Born (1953-03-22) March 22, 1953 (age 71)
Rochester, New York, U.S.
Evelyn Brody
(m. 1979⁠–⁠1989)
Natasha Lance
(m. 1995)
EducationYale University (BA, MA)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD)
WebsiteUniversity website
Academic career
InstitutionHarvard University
FieldFinancial economics
Rudi Dornbusch[2]
Gita Gopinath[3]
Information at IDEAS / RePEc
Chess career
CountryUnited States
TitleGrandmaster (1978)
Peak rating2520 (January 1977)

Kenneth Saul 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. During the Great Recession, Rogoff was an influential proponent of austerity.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

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,[6] and a PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980.[6]


At sixteen Rogoff dropped out of high school to concentrate on chess. At that time he met Bobby Fischer, who was impressed by Rogoff's "self-assured style and his knowing exactly what he wanted over the chessboard".[7] 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.[8] He has also drawn individual games against former world champions Mikhail Tal[9] and Tigran V. Petrosian.[10] In 2012 he drew a blitz game with the world's highest rated player Magnus Carlsen.[11]


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.[12]

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.[13] He is also a regular contributor to Project Syndicate since 2002.

2008 near-meltdown[edit]

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.[14]

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.[14]

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.[14]

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.[14]

During the 2010 United Kingdom general election, Rogoff contributed to an open letter to The Sunday Times endorsing the Conservative Party and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne's demands for greater austerity during the European debt crisis.[4]

Criticism and controversy[edit]

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 low growth.[5][15] 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."[16][17] 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.[16] Rogoff and Reinhart claimed that their fundamental conclusions were accurate after correcting the coding errors detected by their critics.[18][19] They disavowed their claim that a 90% government debt-to-GDP ratio is a specific tipping point for growth outcomes.[20] 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."[20]



His book This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, which he co-authored with Carmen Reinhart, was released in October 2009.[21]

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.[22]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ a b Tooze, Adam (2018). Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World. New York, New York: Viking Press. p. 349. ISBN 978-0-670-02493-3. OCLC 1039188461.
  5. ^ a b Alexander, Ruth (April 19, 2013). "Reinhart, Rogoff... and Herndon: The student who caught out the profs". BBC News. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Kenneth Rogoff -- Biographical Information". International Monetary Fund. 28 October 2005. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  7. ^ Soltis, Andrew (2012). What it takes to become a chess master. London: Batsford. p. 13. ISBN 9781849940269.
  8. ^ "Kenneth Rogoff". Archived from the original on April 7, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  9. ^ "Mikhail Tal vs Kenneth Rogoff". Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  10. ^ "Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian vs Kenneth Rogoff". Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  11. ^ Kavalek, Lubomir (September 5, 2012). "Magnus Carlsen Storms New York's Chess Scene". The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  12. ^ "Kenneth Rogoff". Institute for New Economic Thinking. Archived from the original on June 27, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  13. ^ Rogoff, Kenneth (July 2, 2002). "An Open Letter". IMF. Retrieved May 4, 2013.
  14. ^ a b c d Blinder, Alan S. (2015-04-03). "What Did We Learn from the Financial Crisis, the Great Recession, and the Pathetic Recovery?" (PDF). The Journal of Economic Education. 46 (2). Princeton University Griswold Center for Economic Policy: 135–149. doi:10.1080/00220485.2015.1015190. ISSN 0022-0485. S2CID 144314357.
  15. ^ "How Much Unemployment Was Caused by Reinhart and Rogoff's Arithmetic Mistake?". Center for Economic and Policy Research. April 16, 2013. Archived from the original on April 19, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  16. ^ a b 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.
  17. ^ "Austerity's Spreadsheet Error - The Colbert Report (Video Clip)". Comedy Central. 24 April 2013. Retrieved 2019-05-18.
  18. ^ "Reinhart "Reinhart-Rogoff Initial Response". Financial Times blog. April 16, 2013. Retrieved 2020-07-20.
  19. ^ Inman, Phillip (April 17, 2013). "Rogoff and Reinhart defend their numbers". The Guardian. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  20. ^ a b Reinhart, Carmen M.; Rogoff, Kenneth S. (April 25, 2013). "Opinion | Debt, Growth and the Austerity Debate". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-20.. Op-ed by Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff.
  21. ^ Rampell, Catherine (July 4, 2010), "They Did Their Homework (800 Years of It)", The New York Times
  22. ^ Coy, Peter (September 7, 2016). "This Harvard Economist Is Trying to Kill Cash". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 2016-09-07.

External links[edit]

Media related to Kenneth Rogoff at Wikimedia Commons

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund
Succeeded by