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Leon Berkelmans

Dr Leon Berkelmans was formerly the Director of the International Economy Program and the G20 Studies Centre at the Lowy Institute. Before joining the Institute, Leon was a Senior Manager at the Reserve Bank of Australia, where he worked on the Chinese and Indian economies, investment, trade, and financial markets. Prior to the RBA, Leon worked at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington D.C., where his main responsibilities were macro-econometric modelling of the United States economy. Leon has also spent time working in Kenya, evaluating the efficacy of different methods of giving aid, and has also worked as an economic consultant at the Centre for International Economics. Leon has a PhD in economics from Harvard University. He completed his undergraduate studies at the Australian National University, with a year on exchange to Oxford University.

Articles by Leon Berkelmans (46)

  • Negative interest rates: A reflection of our world

    I remember sitting in a room years ago loudly proclaiming it would be great if Japan adopted negative interest rates. People snickered. Well, the Bank of Japan did it last week! I was somewhat pleased. But not everyone was. A few days ago on The Interpreter, Steve Grenville struck a discontented note. I have sympathy with some of Steve’s points.
  • The Big Short: A reminder of the danger of groupthink

    Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling at The Big Short premiere.             Photo: Barcroft Media via Getty Images I’m looking forward to seeing The Big Short, which traces the stories of some who dared to doubt the US housing market before the global financial crisis.
  • Going negative: The giants of American economics talk interest rates in San Francisco

    Last year I wrote a piece in the Chongqing international airport after the Chinese Economists Society annual meetings. That was a relatively small affair – I think there were around 400 attendees. I write this dispatch from San Francisco Airport, where I've been attending the much larger American Economic Association meetings. Fourteen thousand economists converge on one US city every year to discuss elasticities, regressions, and robustness.
  • The Korea FTA, one year on: Those touting the benefits are cherrypicking results

    Happy first birthday to the Korean Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA), which came into effect on 12 December last year. At the time, Trade Minister Andrew Robb said: KAFTA will increase export opportunities across a wide range of industries: from beef, wheat, sugar, dairy, wine, horticulture and seafood, to automotive suppliers, and the resources and energy industries.  It will also open up significant opportunities for service providers. Let's check the data, one year in.
  • Why DFAT is wrong on the opportunity cost of FTAs

    Last month the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) secretary, Peter Varghese, had this to say about Australia’s participation in the global movement toward preferential free trade agreements (FTAs): To not participate would carry with it a significant potential opportunity cost, as Australian businesses’ international competitive position erodes. I hear this reasoning a lot: if everyone else is doing it, we have to do it too. But the argument is not correct.
  • Discuss: upsides not worth the downsides in FTAs

    On Thursday, the Institute is hosting a panel on free trade agreements with me, Jessica Irvine from Fairfax and Luke Nottage, law professor from the University of Sydney. Steve Grenville, former deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia will be chairing. There’s a divergence of views on the panel, so it should be a great event. For those that can’t make it, I can at least easily summarise my views. I’m very sceptical of the direction of Australian trade policy.