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Ronald I. McKinnon


Ronald Ian McKinnon was American economics professor.


McKinnon, Ronald Ian was born on July 10, 1935 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Son of Ian Nicholson and Lois Harrison McKinnon.


Bachelor with honors, University Alberta, Edmonton, 1956. Doctor of Philosophy, University Minnesota, Minneapolis, 1961.


Ronald I. McKinnon is an applied economist whose primary interests are international economics and economic development-with strong secondary interests in transitional economies and fiscal federalism. Understanding financial institutions in general, and monetary institutions in particular, is central to his teaching and research. His interests range from the proper regulation of banks and financial markets in poorer countries to the historical evolution of global and regional monetary systems. His books, numerous articles in professional journals, and op-eds in the financial press such as The Economist, The Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal reflect this range of interests.

McKinnon was among the first (together with his Stanford colleague, Edward S. Shaw) to analyze "financial repression" as a substantial barrier to successful economic development. In the 1960s and 1970s, ongoing price inflation combined, with numerous government interventions to set interest rates and direct the flow of credit, had shrunk the deposit base for domestic bank lending throughout the developing world. His first book, Money and Capital in Economic Development (1973), analyzed why the prevailing economic doctrines of the time had become too tolerant of inflation and of state interventions in the credit mechanism. Without proper doctrinal constraints, politicians were only too happy direct the flow of credit to suit their own ends.

But identifying the deleterious effects of financial repression proved to be easier than escaping from it. Thus, in The Order of Economic Liberalization: Financial Control in the Transition to a Market Economy (2nd edition, 1993), McKinnon outlined the appropriate sequencing of liberalizing government policies in domestic finance and foreign trade for securing open markets. He applied this analysis to developing countries and to the former communist states of Eastern Europe and East Asia-with a particular interest in why the Chinese seemed to be more successful in getting the order of liberalization "right".

McKinnon's other major area of interest has been the study of international money and finance. He has focused on how the use of national currencies, only some of which have the important property of being convertible, allows international trade to be effectively monetized and multilateral rather bartered and bilateral. But financial volatility in this multi-currency world can be (and often is) unacceptably high. Unless the underlying "rules of the game" linking national currencies are properly understood and implemented, sharp swings in exchange rates, and currency runs followed by crashes, are all too commonplace.


Ian Nicholson

Lois Harrison McKinnon

Margaret McQueen Learmonth

Neil Charles McKinnon

Mary Elizabeth McKinnon

David Bruce McKinnon