Lex Rieffel

Nonresident Fellow

China, East Asia

Lex Rieffel is a Nonresident Fellow with the East Asia Program. From 2009 to 2017, Lex Rieffel focused on the economy of Myanmar during its historic transition to more democratic rule. In 2013 he published a study, co-authored with James W. Fox, of foreign aid to the new government of Myanmar: Too Much Too Soon? The Dilemma of Foreign Aid to Myanmar/Burma. His edited volume Myanmar/Burma: Inside Challenges, Outside Interests (Brookings, 2010) provided a snapshot of Myanmar on the eve of the 2010 elections, through the eyes of its ASEAN partners, its superpower neighbors China and India, and its own people. Other deep policy studies focused on the state enterprise sector in Myanmar and the use of land value capture tools in the development of major investment projects. Since 2017, he has focused on the global challenge of urban youth unemployment, including the demographic dimension and implications for migration.

 In 2007, he published a study, co-authored with Jaleswari Pramodhawardani, focusing on military reform in Indonesia: Out of Business and On Budget:The Challenge of Military Financing in Indonesia. His essay on the remarkable political and economic transitions in Indonesia in 2004 was published in the September-October 2004 issue of Foreign Affairs. He joined Brookings in 2002 to write Sovereign Debt Restructuring: the Case for Ad Hoc Machinery (September 2003), which remains the authoritative work on the process of sovereign debt restructuring. Policy briefs presenting the findings of other research undertaken at Brookings focused on international volunteering, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Nigeria’s Paris Club debt problem, and the roles of the IMF and World Bank.

Between 2001 and 2009, Mr. Rieffel taught a graduate seminar on “Financial Issues in Emerging Market Countries” at (successively) Johns Hopkins University-SAIS, Syracuse University-Maxwell School, and George Washington University-Elliott School. In 2013, he taught the Myanmar seminar at Johns Hopkins University-SAIS. In 2013 and 2014, he taught an economics course in the International Center of Excellence program at the University of Yangon.

From April 1994 to June 2001, Mr. Rieffel was employed by the Institute of International Finance as senior advisor and director of the Multilateral Policy Department. From 1975 to 1993, he served on the international staff of the U.S. Treasury Department. His final assignment was directing the Office of Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union Policy. Earlier, he had external assignments in the offices of the U.S. ambassador to the OECD and the U.S. executive director of the IMF. Earlier, Mr. Rieffel was an economist with the U.S. Agency for International Development (in Indonesia); a planning analyst at the International Paper Company (in New York City); a volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps (in India); and an officer in the U.S. Navy (in Vietnam). He is a graduate of Princeton University (B.A., economics) and the Fletcher School, Tufts University (M.A.L.D., International Development Studies).

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Policy Paper
Normalizing China’s Relations with the Paris Club

The COVID-19 pandemic is pushing many countries to the edge of default. Workouts will be done in the Paris Club, but China is not a member despite being one of the largest creditors

Downhill from Peak Globalization: When Will It End?

Originally published in The Globalist.

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