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Kris Mitchener

Kris Mitchener

Santa Clara University
Fellow, 2021-22

Kris James Mitchener will spend the fellowship year working on several projects. He is finishing a book entitled, In Defense of Public Debt. Although debt crises and debt defaults are dramatic events that attract considerable attention, his book argues these are only part of the history of two millennia of government borrowing. The ability of governments to issue debt has played a critical role in addressing emergencies – from wars and pandemics to economic and financial crises, as well as in funding essential public goods and services such as transportation, education, and healthcare. In these ways, the capacity to issue debt has been integral to state building and state survival. A second project will utilize a quasi-natural experiment from history to explore how the governance of central banks influences their ability to respond as lenders of last resort during financial crises.

Mitchener’s research focuses on financial crises, economic growth, exchange-rate regime choice, and monetary economics, and has appeared in leading scientific journals, including the American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, and Economic Journal. He served as editor-in-chief of Explorations in Economic History from 2015 to 2020.

Mitchener is the Robert and Susan Finocchio Professor of Economics at Santa Clara University, a research associate at NBER and CAGE, and a research fellow at CEPR and CESifo. He received his BA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

For more information about his work, visit