Laureation address: Professor Carmen Reinhart

Lauren Sykes
Thursday 15 June 2023

Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws
Laureation by Professor Alan Sutherland, School of Economics and Finance

Thursday 15 June 2023

Vice-Chancellor, it is my privilege to present for the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Professor Carmen Reinhart.

Carmen Reinhart is the Minos A Zombanakis Professor of the International Financial System at Harvard Kennedy School and from 2020 until 2022 she was Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist of the World Bank Group.

Professor Reinhart is a macroeconomist whose career spans leading positions in academic research, major financial institutions, and national and international policy organisations. She has made outstanding contributions to our understanding of international capital flows, debt crises, financial contagion, financial regulation, monetary policy, and exchange rate policy.

Professor Reinhart is originally from Cuba. She moved to the USA in the mid-1960s, where she completed her education. She is a graduate of Columbia University, New York, where she completed her PhD under the supervision of Nobel Laureate Professor Robert Mundell.

In between degrees, Professor Reinhart was Chief Economist and Vice-President of the investment bank, Bear Stearns. And, in 1988, after completing her PhD, she moved to the International Monetary Fund – where she rose to the position of Senior Policy Advisor and Deputy Director of the Research Department.

In 2000 Professor Reinhart returned to academic research, first as Professor of Public Policy and Economics at the University of Maryland, then to the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, and in 2012 she took up her present position at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Professor Reinhart is the winner of the King of Spain Prize and the Adam Smith Award. Speaking of Adam Smith, it is particularly appropriate that we should be celebrating the work of an eminent economist in this year – the 300th anniversary of Smith’s birth. One of Smith’s most important contributions was the understanding that the wealth of nations depends

on productive capacity rather than on acquisition of resources and financial wealth through financial flows from abroad. Smith’s work led to an emphasis on private enterprise, free trade, and free capital flows.

In contrast, Professor Reinhart’s work demonstrates that, while wealth accumulation via international financial flows may not be a sensible focus of economic policy, it is not possible to ignore the impact of capital flows and international financial markets on the macroeconomy.

Indeed, far from being benign and self-regulating – financial markets and financial flows can be a significant source of economic shocks and repeated crises.

Professor Reinhart has published widely on these topics in leading economics journals, but her most widely known work is her bestselling and award-winning book This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly which documents the remarkable similarities between financial crises across the world and across time.

Vice-Chancellor, in recognition of her major contribution to economics on a global scale, I invite you to confer the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, on Carmen Reinhart.

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