In this essay, I outline the path that I have taken as a monetary economist. As befits this volume, my discussion is necessarily very personal (hopefully not too self-indulgent), and it also illustrates my personal philosophy of economics and how it developed over my career. Let me start by describing why I became an economist in the first place, and then I will move on to my research, teaching, and role as a policy maker.
Why I Became an Economist
The path to becoming an economist starts as early as I remember. I was a pretty nerdy child and I was destined for academia. From the time I was six, my parents and siblings sometimes referred to me as the “little professor,” not just because I was studious, with my face always in a book, but also because I was a “space cadet” who often was off in another world. Although this appellation was to some extent a criticism that my social skills were not of the highest order, I never took offense. Indeed, I was proud to be a nerd. When my eldest sister, whom I love dearly, came home for Thanksgiving from her freshman year at college at a small teacher’s college in Boston, she told us about going to a mixer with boys from MIT and described them as “creeps” (the word used for “nerds” at the time, which was in the early 1960s). She then turned to me and said, “Just like you.” Again, I didn’t take offense at all. Indeed, I took it as a compliment because I wanted to be just like them and go to MIT, which I did six years later.