Kenneth Rogoff – Visiting Professor for 2017

Kenneth Rogoff is Sanjaya Lall Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford, and Thomas D. Cabot Professor at Harvard University.  From 2001–2003, Rogoff served as Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund.  His 2009 book with Carmen Reinhart, This Time Is Different:  Eight Centuries of Financial Folly has been very widely cited by academics, policymakers and journalists. One regularity that Reinhart and Rogoff illustrate is the remarkable quantitative similarities across time and countries in the run-up and the aftermath of severe financial crises. In general, they show that for financial crises, the differences between emerging markets and advanced countries are far less pronounced than previously believed. Rogoff is also known for his seminal work on exchange rates and on central bank independence.  His treatise Foundations of International Macroeconomics (joint with Maurice Obstfeld) is the standard graduate text in the field worldwide. His new book, The Curse of Cash (September 2016), argues the case for drastically scaling back the world’s paper currency supply. His monthly syndicated column on global economic issues is published in over 50 countries. He is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the Economic Advisory Panel of the New York Federal Reserve.

Rogoff is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Group of Thirty. Rogoff is among the top eight on RePEc’s ranking of economists by scholarly citations. He is also an international grandmaster of chess.

Our first major event of 2017 was held on 9th May, as we proudly welcomed Professor Kenneth Rogoff, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University, as the Sanjaya Lall Visiting Professor 2017. This prestigious panel event also featured Professor John Muellbauer of Nuffield College, the University of Oxford, as well as Martin Wolf CBE, Associate Editor and Chief and Economics Commentator at the Financial Times, exploring ‘Trumponomics’ and the early economic consequences of Trumpism and how policies are likely to take shape in key areas such as trade, tax, infrastructure, finance, and monetary policy.

Sanjaya Lall Visiting Professor Kenneth Rogoff has since participated in regular events in the Department of Economics, including seminars and the weekly departmental tea with faculty and graduate students. He has also held one-to-one meetings with the Department’s research students and postdoctoral researchers to provide advice and feedback on their work.

Professor Rogoff’s period in Oxford coincided with a short visit by Professor Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde from the University of Pennsylvania, a macroeconomist and economic historian. The Department of Economics took full advantage of having them both in Oxford to run a one-day research workshop on International Economics to mark the University of Oxford joining with LSE, UCL, Cambridge, NIESR and the Bank of England at the Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM). The workshop attracted a number of distinguished participants, including Silvana Tenreyro from the LSE, who has just been appointed to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee.

Professor Rogoff also gave a public lecture with the Department of Economics on 16th May 2017. The lecture was titled “India’s Demonetization and the Case for Reducing Cash in Advanced Countries” and was based on his award winning book “The Curse of Cash”.


The Curse of Cash by Kenneth S. Rogoff

** Winner of the 2017 PROSE Award in Economics, Association of American Publishers **
** One of Bloomberg’s Best Books of 2016 **
** One of Financial Times ( Best Economics Books of 2016 **
** Selected for Canada’s Financial Post Best Personal Finance and Economics Books of 2016 **
** Longlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year 2016 **

From the New York Times bestselling author of This Time Is Different, “a fascinating and important book” (Ben Bernanke) about phasing out most paper money to fight crime and tax evasion—and to battle financial crises by tapping the power of negative interest rates

The world is drowning in cash—and it’s making us poorer and less safe. In The Curse of Cash, Kenneth Rogoff, one of the world’s leading economists, makes a persuasive and fascinating case for an idea that until recently would have seemed outlandish: getting rid of most paper money.

Even as people in advanced economies are using less paper money, there is more cash in circulation—a record $1.4 trillion in U.S. dollars alone, or $4,200 for every American, mostly in $100 bills. And the United States is hardly exceptional. So what is all that cash being used for? The answer is simple: a large part is feeding tax evasion, corruption, terrorism, the drug trade, human trafficking, and the rest of a massive global underground economy.

As Rogoff shows, paper money can also cripple monetary policy. In the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, central banks have been unable to stimulate growth and inflation by cutting interest rates significantly below zero for fear that it would drive investors to abandon treasury bills and stockpile cash. This constraint has paralyzed monetary policy in virtually every advanced economy, and is likely to be a recurring problem in the future.

The Curse of Cash offers a plan for phasing out most paper money—while leaving small-denomination bills and coins in circulation indefinitely—and addresses the issues the transition will pose, ranging from fears about privacy and price stability to the need to provide subsidized debit cards for the poor.

While phasing out the bulk of paper money will hardly solve the world’s problems, it would be a significant step toward addressing a surprising number of very big ones. Provocative, engaging, and backed by compelling original arguments and evidence, The Curse of Cash is certain to spark widespread debate.