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Picture of Kenneth Rogoff
Kenneth Rogoff, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, will be the keynote speaker at SKAGEN's upcoming New Year's Conference. Photo: Bloomberg

In addition to a long career in academia, Kenneth Rogoff has held numerous prominent positions including Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, and as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

As a teenager from Rochester, New York, Kenneth Rogoff was preoccupied with chess; at age 14 he was already a US master and at 16 he represented the United States in the world championships in Stockholm. Rogoff has said that he doesn't know what possessed him to leave the game when, at the age of 18, he decided to apply to college. Despite the many holes in his high school transcript, Yale University accepted him.

This time is different

After Kenneth Rogoff received the lifelong title of grandmaster of chess in 1978, his focus shifted from chess to economics. After Yale, Rogoff moved on to MIT graduate school where he met key influences, including the vice chair of the Federal Reserve, Stanley Fischer.

Rogoff's field of research is broad, encompassing international financial crises, central bank independence, exchange rates, current account imbalances and political budget cycles. He is widely considered one of the world's leading experts on government debt, and has become one of the most cited economists of all time.

His book from 2009, co-authored with Carmen Reinhart, This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly demonstrated that there are more quantitative similarities in the aftermath of financial crises than previously believed. The main message of the ironically-titled book is essentially that too much debt can be dangerous – yet, for various reasons both politicians and investors tend to forget these risks and rationalise away the dangers of a heavy debt burden, claiming that 'this time it's different'.

The book was published at a timely moment in the aftermath of the financial crisis, and received wide critical acclaim. Two keynote alumni from previous SKAGEN New Year's Conferences, Niall Ferguson and Robert Shiller, are among those quoted on the book cover:

"This is quite simply the best empirical investigation of financial crises ever published. Covering hundreds of years and bringing together a dizzying array of data, Reinhart and Rogoff have made a truly heroic contribution to financial history. This single marvellous volume is worth a thousand mathematical models." – Niall Ferguson

"This Time is Different is terrific, for it gives just the perspective we need on the current world economic crisis. People can't expect to understand the current crisis without some in-depth look at past crises. That is exactly what this excellent and timely book provides." – Robert Shiller.

The Curse of Cash

In August 2016, Rogoff's new book was published, The Curse of Cash. It contends that the world is drowning in cash, which is making us both poorer and less safe and makes the case that we should gradually dispense with large denomination notes (which account for 90% of the world's cash), leaving only small denomination notes. He claims that governments have allowed cash supplies to get out of hand, to the benefit of criminals and tax evaders. The former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, is among those who have endorsed the work, calling it a 'fascinating and important book'.

Rogoff vs. Carlsen

Apart from sometimes comparing chess to economics, the game has mostly become a thing of the past for Kenneth Rogoff. However, in August 2012 he ended his three-decade long hiatus in chess and played a casual exhibition game against Norway's champion Magnus Carlsen. How did Rogoff do? He managed to draw.

NYC 2017

Kenneth Rogoff will be the keynote speaker at SKAGEN's New Year's Conference in Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm on 11-13 January 2017. He will present on the topic; "Where We Are and Where We Are Going: A Look at the US and Global Economies".

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