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In Crises, A Source of Strength



During financial crises, SIPA’s community of policy experts help keep the economy afloat — and mentor the next generation of leaders.


When the pandemic-induced global economic crisis hit in 2020, Lacey Robbins MPA ’15 found herself on the frontline response—not in a blue hospital gown, but in helping oversee the world’s supply of greenbacks.


In downtown Manhattan at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Robbins was working in Global Currency Services, which focused on shipping US banknotes all over the world. Foreign governments and banks were rushing to get hold of dollars—similar to how households were stockpiling toilet paper—and Robbins was on the lookout for trouble spots. She was familiar with previous market crises from studying at SIPA with Professor Guillermo Calvo, a former chief economist of the Inter-American Development Bank dubbed the “prophet of financial doom” for predicting Mexico’s 1994 peso crisis. Such courses had also given Robbins an understanding of what central bank levers might be pulled to alleviate the economic pain from COVID-19 as the world went into lockdown, plane flights were grounded, and global logistics for the hard currency that the Fed paid out to customers were disrupted.


“There are so many aspects that play off of each other,” says Robbins, who had wanted to work for America’s central bank ever since she read Maestro: Greenspan’s Fed and the American Boom as a high schooler. Without what she learned at SIPA, she adds, “I would be lost in these discussions.”


Learn more in the full article, that was originally published at https://www.sipa.columbia.edu/news/crises-source-strength


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