LONG TIME NO SEE

Back from the “real world,” academic Raghuram Rajan is looking to just shut himself in a room and think

Quartz india
Quartz india

India’s former central banker Raghuram Rajan is certainly happy to be back at the University of Chicago.

“This has been my home for 25 years. It’s a great city. I have great colleagues. And it’s a wonderful school. It’s different every time you come back. If it wasn’t different, it wouldn’t be doing its job,” Rajan said in an interview with the media team of the university’s Booth School of Business.

Rajan served as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor for three years from 2013 to 2016. In September 2016, Rajan announced that he won’t seek a second term. His exit was one of the most-talked about developments in India in recent times, particularly due to the recurring signs of friction between Rajan and the Narendra Modi-government.

Now back as a professor at Booth, Rajan’s looking forward to the time he’ll get to just sit down and think:

One of the difficulties of a job in the quote “real world” is you don’t really get time to shut yourself off in a room and think. Now in academia, if you’re not too careful, you get really dragged into the real world and you don’t have that time. But if you are careful, you can spend four days in a room, sit looking at a piece of paper and struggling with a thought that refuses to come out. At the end of those four days, sometimes, you say, “Oh my God, how did I miss this?”—and it dawns on you. And that’s as close to bliss as you can get.

Rajan is currently focusing on liquidity in financial markets and has already co-authored a paper with the Cambridge-based National Bureau of Economic Research about industrial liquidity and financial cycles.

The 54-year-old, who is the Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at Booth, will teach the International Corporate Finance course in the winter term. “I hope it introduces the nuances in other countries to our students. Clearly we can’t go to every country in the world and see what’s different. But what I do want them to understand is not every country works like the United States,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rajan is also looking forward to biking around Chicago. “Taking my bike out and riding the bike path along Lake Shore Drive, that’s one of the great experiences in my life. And I hope to do it as long as I can. It’s great to be back,” he said.

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