Steve Hanke
Steve H. Hanke.jpg
BornSteve H. Hanke
(1942-12-29)December 29, 1942
Maco, Georgia, United States
Alma materUniversity of Colorado Boulder
OccupationApplied Economist
EmployerJohn Hopkins University
Known forResearch in applied economics: micro, macro and finance

Steve Hanke is a leading world expert on currency boards, measuring and stopping hyperinflation, privatization, currency and commodity trading, water resource economics, and other topics.

Background and Education

Steve Hanke was born in Macon, Georgia in 1942 and grew up in Atlantic, Iowa, where he attended Atlantic High School. Prof. Hanke and his wife, Liliane, reside in Baltimore and Paris. He then attended the University of Colorado Boulder, where he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He earned a B.S. in Business Administration (1964) and a PhD in Economics (1969), both from the University of Colorado Boulder.


A professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, Hanke is co-founder and co-director of the Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise, an interdivisional Institute between the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering. The institute’s extensive research and publishing focuses on applied economics and finance, business history, and public health.

Recognized globally for his expertise, Hanke advises a number of public and private institutions. He is senior advisor at the Renmin University of China’s International Monetary Research Institute in Beijing and special counselor to the Center for Financial Stability in New York. A member of the Charter Council of the Society of Economic Measurement and of Euromoney Country Risk’s Experts Panel, he also served on the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers in Maryland in 1976-77 and as a Senior Advisor to the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress in 1984-88.

As a senior economist on President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, he led a team of economists in re-writing the federal government’s Principles and Guidelines for Water and Land Related Resources Implementation Studies. In addition, he was responsible for designing Reagan’s major privatization initiatives. A faculty member of the JHU Global Water Institute, Hanke remains a sought-after expert on municipal water system privatization.

His international appointments also include state counselor to both the Republic of Lithuania in 1994-96 and the Republic of Montenegro in 1999-2003. He advised the presidents of Bulgaria (1997-2002), Venezuela (1995-96), and Indonesia (1998). He played an important role in establishing new currency regimes in Argentina, Estonia, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ecuador, Lithuania, and Montenegro. Hanke has also held senior appointments in the governments of many other countries, including Albania, Kazakhstan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yugoslavia.

A well-known currency and commodity trader, Hanke is chairman of the Supervisory Board of Advanced Metallurgical Group N.V. in Amsterdam and chairman emeritus of the Friedberg Mercantile Group, Inc. in Toronto. During the 1990s, he served as president of Toronto Trust Argentina in Buenos Aires, the world’s best-performing emerging market mutual fund in 1995.

Hanke joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1969 as a water resource economist in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering (now the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering). His pioneering scholarship includes the first event study of the impact of water meter installation on water use and the development of sewer interceptor design criteria, still widely used across Europe. Hanke founded and teaches his premier Johns Hopkins course, Applied Economics and Finance, which has been featured in Bloomberg Business and other publications for its focus on primary data and its placement rate of 100 percent for course alumni into Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, and other top Wall Street firms. Hanke selects 12 students from across majors and undergraduate and graduate programs for that course.

Research into Troubled Currencies

As a senior fellow and director of the Troubled Currencies Project at the internationally recognized Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., Hanke studies countries unable to maintain a stable domestic currency. Often, it is difficult to obtain timely, reliable exchange-rate and inflation data for these “troubled currencies.” To address this, Hanke’s Cato Institute Center collects black-market exchange-rate data for troubled currencies and measures the implied inflation rates for each country by using Purchasing Power Parity theory and high-frequency data.[1]

Research Areas

  • Applied economics: finance
  • Applied economics: macro
  • Applied economics: micro

Research on Zimbabwe's Inflation

The year 2020 ended with an inflation bang in the 14 countries listed on Hanke’s Inflation Dashboard. To qualify for entry, a country had to end the year with an annual inflation rate of 25 percent or more. He made the measurements of each country’s inflation by using high-frequency, free-market exchange-rate data in combination with Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) theory. For countries with elevated inflation rates, the PPP method has proven very accurate and reliable.

Since he uses high-frequency data to measure inflation in countries where inflation is elevated, he has been able to refine Cagan’s 50 percent per month hyperinflation hurdle. With improved measurement techniques that he developed when he was studying Zimbabwe’s record hyperinflation, he defined a hyperinflation as an inflation in which the monthly rate exceeds 50 percent per month for at least thirty consecutive days.[2]


Zimbabwe Economic Crisis
Zimbabwe: Africas's Shame and Opportunity
Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls' Rise above Zimbabwe's Economic Mess

When you visit Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River, you will find that it is still one of the Wonders of the World in the traditional geomorphological sense. But, you will quickly discover that it is also an economic Wonder of the World. Indeed, when you enter the town of Victoria Falls, it’s as if you have walked into an alternative African economic universe. Victoria Falls is an island of stability in Zimbabwe, a country that has descended into monetary and fiscal chaos. How could this be?

Victoria Falls is an enclave that has long operated under very different monetary rules. As a key tourist destination in Southern Africa, it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to view the thunderous volume of water passing into the Zambezi’s 300-ft deep gorge — a true Wonder of the World.

Traveling from any other place in Zimbabwe to Victoria Falls is like stepping through a portal that aligns much more with an experience of visiting, say, Yosemite Valley in the United States. Hotels, lodges, and restaurants abound, offering everything from down-home cooking to elegant five-course meals. Safari companies offer a wide variety of first-class venues. U.S. and other international credit cards are gladly accepted, a rarity in other parts of Zimbabwe. And, the glue that holds Victoria Falls together is the U.S. dollar. It’s the coin of the realm in Victoria Falls. Yes, Victoria Falls is officially dollarized. It only accepts U.S. dollars for payment of property taxes and keeps its books in U.S. dollars as well.

There is also a new stock market in the city: The Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX). The VFEX trade securities listed in U.S. dollars and other convertible currencies. The new "dollarized" market would challenge the National Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) in Harare, which has few trades and little investor trust because the stocks are traded in Zimbabwe’s local currency.

So, to many, Victoria Falls qualifies as a Wonder of the World in more than one sphere. It’s not just the great falls on the Zambezi that make it so wondrous, but the dollarized world of the city, too.[3]

Recent Books

  • Zimbabwe: Hyperinflation to Growth (2008)
  • A Blueprint for a Safe, Sound Georgian Lari (2010),
  • Juntas Monetarias para Paises en Desarollo (2015),
  • Currency Boards for Developing Countries: A Handbook (2015),
  • Gelişmekte Olan Ülkeler İçin Para Kurullari El Kitabi (2019)

Some of his Awards

  • 2017: Doctorate Honoris Causa
  • 2015: Doctorate Honoris Causa
  • 2015: Profesor Visitante
  • 2010: Doctorate of Economics, Honoris Causa
  • 2008: Distinguished Professor
  • 2004: Named Profesor Asociado (the highest honor awarded to international experts of acknowledged competence) - Universidad del Azuay - Cuenca - Ecuador
  • 2004: Awarded Outstanding Achievement Award (in recognition of contributions in applied economics - currency reform and dollarization) - Economia y Negocios (Ekos) - Quito - Ecuador
  • 2004: Delivered the Keynote Address - Centenial Celebration - Warsaw School of Economics - Warsaw - Poland
  • 2003: Awarded Doctor of Arts - Honoris Causa: Universidad San Francisco de Quito - Quito - Ecuador.
  • 2003: Honorary Member of the Board of Directors - Friends of the Rule of Law in
  • 1998: Distinguished Associate(In recognition of outstanding contributions to economics)International Atlantic Economic Society
  • 1998: Delivered the William S. Vickrey Distinguished Address Forty-Sixth International Atlantic Economic ConferenceBoston - Massachusetts
  • 1998: Twenty-Five Most Influential People in the WorldWorld Trade Magazine
  • 1996: First Prize (Argentine Mutual Fund Performance - 1996) Toronto Trust Argentina - Standard and Poor's Micropal - London
  • 1995: First Prize (World Emerging Market Mutual Fund Performance - 1995) Toronto Trust Argentina - Standard and Poor's Micropal - London


File:Steve H. Hanke.jpg File:Prof Steve Hanke and Prof Mthuli Ncube.jpg


  1. [1], John Hopkins, Department of Environmental Health & Engineering, Accessed: 19 January, 2020
  2. Steve H. Hanke, [2], Spotlight Zimbabwe, Published: 3 September, 2020, Accessed: 19 January, 2020
  3. Steve H. Hanke and Craig Richardson, [3], National Review, Published: 10 December, 2020, Accessed: 19 January, 2021