Carmen Reinhart arrived in the U.S. at the age of 10, with her family and three suitcases. They were refugees from Cuba. At the local college, she initially took courses on fashion merchandising. “I really hated it,” she says.
Then she discovered economics. “That was that,” recalls the chief economist of the World Bank. By her second year of college, she was so enamored that she pledged to attend graduate school.
At Columbia, she grew fascinated by financial crises and contagion. By the time she joined Bear Stearns in 1982, she was well prepared to analyze Mexico’s sovereign default and the Latin American debt crisis, as well as the concerns that U.S. banks would go under as a result.
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Reinhart, 65, has been in academia for most of her career, but her ideas about boom/bust cycles, sovereign debt defaults, and other financial debacles are widely influential, as is the bestselling book she co-wrote, This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly.
She has always been intrigued by Sherlock Holmes: “What can you figure out? How can you connect the dots? I’m always fascinated not by what you know but by what you don’t know. That’s been a lifetime.”
Write to Leslie P. Norton at [email protected]