James Kwak

Jesse Root Professor of Law
  • Banking and Financial Regulation
  • Federal Budget
  • Deficits
  • Fiscal Policy
  • Retirement Security
  • 401(k) Plans

James Kwak is a prolific writer whose wide range of scholarly interests includes corporate law and governance, financial markets and regulation, retirement security, fiscal policy, and the contemporary American political landscape. His most recent book is Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality. He previously co-authored two books with Simon Johnson: White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You; and the New York Times bestseller 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown. Professor Kwak has also written numerous scholarly and popular articles and book chapters, and is the co-author of “The Baseline Scenario,” a leading blog on economics and public policy.

After earning an A.B. in social studies from Harvard College and Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Kwak spent more than a decade in the business world before a growing interest in the law led him to begin work on his JD at Yale Law School in 2008. His business experience includes working as a management consultant at McKinsey and Company, serving as a director of marketing at Ariba, and co-founding and serving as vice president of Guidewire Software, a leading provider of core systems for property and casualty insurance companies.

Professor Kwak has been a member of the board of directors of the Southern Center for Human Rights since 2013 and is currently the organization's vice chair.

James Kwak, Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality (Pantheon, 2017). An intellectual history of the development and influence of "Economics 101" ideas in the United States, with an analysis of the impact of those ideas on labor markets, financial regulation, health care, and other policy areas.

James Kwak with Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson, Amir Kermani, and Todd Mitton. "The Value of Connections in Turbulent Times: Evidence from the United States," Journal of Financial Economics 121, no. 2 (August 2016): 368-91.

Working paper version: NBER Working Paper 19701, December 2013; MIT Department of Economics Working Paper 13-22, November 27, 2013.

James Kwak, Reducing Inequality with a Retrospective Tax on Capital, 25 Cornell J. L. & Pub. Pol'y 191 (2015).

James KwakCorporate Law Constraints on Political Spending, 18 N.C. Banking Inst. J. 18 (2013).

James Kwak, "Cultural Capture and the Financial Crisis ", Chapter 4 in Preventing Regulatory Capture: Special Interest Influence and How to Limit It, Daniel Carpenter and David Moss, eds., (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

James Kwak, Improving Retirement Savings Options for Employees, 13 U. Penn. J. Bus. L. 483 (2013)

Simon Johnson & James Kwak, White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters To You (Pantheon, 2012)

Simon Johnson & James Kwak, 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown (Pantheon, 2010)

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