Sean Turnell is a Senior Fellow in the Southeast Asia Program at the Lowy Institute, covering developments in Myanmar, the wider region, and international economic issues. He has been a Senior Economic Analyst at the Reserve Bank of Australia, a policy adviser to a range of international institutions including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and is a Professor of Economics at Macquarie University. Most prominently, from 2016 to 2021 he served as the senior economic adviser to Myanmar’s democratic government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Following a military coup in February 2021, Sean was imprisoned alongside Myanmar’s democratic leadership. After 650 days of incarceration and severe ill-treatment, he was finally released in November 2022.
Dr Turnell has written extensively on macroeconomic policymaking, economic reform and the role of financial institutions in economic development, with a special focus on Australia, Myanmar and the Indo-Pacific. He has written more than 100 scholarly articles on these topics and has been a contributor to publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Financial Times and The Australian, as well as the BBC, Voice of America, CNBC, Bloomberg and many others.
He has been a fellow at the Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University; at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge; the Southeast Asia Program at Cornell University; and the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore. In 2009, Sean’s book on Myanmar’s monetary and financial history, Fiery Dragons, was published by the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. Sean lives in Sydney with his wife and fellow economist, Dr Ha Vu.