Kenneth S. Rogoff

Kenneth S. Rogoff

As the American under-21 chess champion, Kenneth S. Rogoff decided to "miss most of the last two years of high school." He left Rochester, New York, to support himself in Yugoslavia on prize winnings—perhaps an inkling of his international interests. Yale accepted his equivalency diploma; in college he played chess summers only (placing no lower than seventh in three U.S. Championships), indulging instead a new passion, economics, in which he was taught by future Nobel laureate James Tobin. Thereafter, Rogoff dropped out of MIT to play chess until he quit (cold turkey) to earn a Ph.D. in 1980. Professor of economics at Harvard since 1999, he has pursued "problems at the intersection of political economy and economics," a phenomenon he saw firsthand during two years on leave as chief economist and research director of the International Monetary Fund, ending last fall. He has documented the "political budget cycle": governments' willingness to raise taxes, for example, relative to the electoral calendar, and "why voters fall for it." His interpretation of international debt (more symptom than cause of developing countries' weak growth) extends to speculation on "why countries like the U.S. can borrow enough to wrap a rope around their necks several times" while others cannot secure credit. As the new director of Harvard's Center for International Development, he will focus research on "the big problem for the world over the next 100 years": that two billion people are poor although "our world is a cornucopia." On the home front, filmmaker Natasha Rogoff pioneered the Russian Sesame Street, but International Grandmaster Kenneth will teach children Gabriel, seven, and Juliana, five, the basic chess moves.

You might also like

John Manning Appointed Interim Provost

Harvard Law School dean moves to central administration

Facebook’s Failures

Author and tech journalist Jeff Horwitz speaks at Harvard.

Kevin Young Named 2024 Harvard Arts Medalist

Museum director and poet to be honored April 24

Most popular

Convocation 2017: What Should an Education Be at Such a Moment?

Speakers reflect on the goals of a liberal arts university. 

Nicco Mele

The director of the Shorenstein Center on how the Internet came to mean so much to him. 

Found in Translation

Maureen Freely ’74, longtime translator of Orhan Pamuk, shares the nuances of bringing a text from one language to another.

More to explore

Photograph of Winthrop Bell 1910

Winthrop Bell

Brief life of a philosopher and spy: 1884-1965

Illustration of people talking to each other with colorful thought bubbles above their heads

Talking about Talking

Fostering healthy disagreement

Vacationing with a Purpose

New England “summer camps” for adults