Alberto Alesina, the economist who had conquered America, to become the director of the economic department of Harvard University, from 2003 to 2006, who suddenly disappeared on May 23, suffered a heart attack while he and his wife Susan went on a mountain hike in the United States. He had just turned 63.
An original and rigorous thinker who changed economic policy forever. Its star has guided generations of students in Italy and around the world. His friendship enriched those who were fortunate enough to be close to him. Mario Draghi, former president of the European Central Bank, reminds the economist Alberto Alesina,
Born in Broni, in the province of Pavia, in April 1957, Alesina had graduated from Bocconi University in 1981 and then obtained it in 1986 the PhD in economics (PhD) at Harvard. And in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he built his whole career. Its dense curriculum includes affiliation to the National Bureau of Economic Research (Nber) and the Center for Economic Policy Research (Cepr); he was also a member of the Econometric Society and the American Academy of Art and Sciences. Since 2006, then Alesina had become the director of the Nber’s economic policy program and, when at the meetings he saw that the participants were mainly Italian, he was not surprised and amused to comment that for those who live in Italy it is inevitable to deal with how decisions are made political, given the rapid alternation of governments and the heated political debate.
Alesina considered one of the leading experts in economic policy. When they will be awarded the Nobel Prize political economics, the branch of economic science that studies the mechanisms of formation of political decisions, and sooner or later will happen, it will be a blow to the heart not to read the name of Alberto, says Tito Boeri, professor at Bocconi and former president of INPS, given that Alesina had contributed to founding this discipline of the economy together with Guido Tabellini and Torsten Persson. In 1990 theEconomist he had described him as one of the eight best economists under the age of forty. Visiting professor at Bocconi University, in Italy he was known to the general public also as a commentator on the Corriere della Sera, where he used to sign the editorials together with Francesco Giavazzi, the Bocconi teacher he considered his best friend.
I remember him last time at Bocconi, last year, to present his book on austerity, which was then awarded, says Marco Mazzucchelli, director of Kredietbank Luxembourg and senior advisor of Bain & Co and old friend of Alesina. He wanted to speak first justifying himself: “So I say the few simple things I know, then I leave the difficult ones to Favero and Giavazzi “. Typical of Alesina: he could say complex things in a simple way and always with a sense of humor that made him immediately nice, especially to students, even if he said difficult or uncomfortable things. To Harvard students loved it because he knew how to make himself one of them thanks to his attitude as a wingman and his hand. The book Austerit, when it works and when not, written together with Francesco Giavazzi and Carlo Favero in recent days has received the prestigious Hayek Prize. Alesina was a supporter of an expansive austerity, to deal with periods of emergency and to support growth, focusing more on selective spending cuts than on increasing taxes. For him the way forward was the great reforms and liberalizations rather than the priority use of investment for major works.
Alesina loved to launch provocations, to shake politics, as she did on the occasion of tax women less than men (gender based taxation), a measure that would have contributed to effectively achieving equal opportunities, and contained in a study published in 2011 onAmerican Economic Journal together with Andrea Ichino and Loukas Karabarbounis.
Many messages to celebrate it, including that of Paolo Gentiloni. I remember Alberto Alesina. His studies and ideas have enriched our economic debate, wrote the European Commissioner for Monetary Affairs, Paolo Gentiloni in a tweet.