Peterson Institute for International Economics

The Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), previously known as the Institute for International Economics (IIE), is a non-profit think tank focused on international economics, based in Washington, D.C. It was founded by C. Fred Bergsten in 1981, and is led by Adam S. Posen. According to the 2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania), PIIE was number 20 (of 150) in the "Top Think Tanks Worldwide" and number 13 (of 60) in the "Top Think Tanks in the United States".[2]

Peterson Institute for International Economics
Founder(s)C. Fred Bergsten
Established1981 (1981)
FocusInternational Economics
PresidentAdam S. Posen
ChairmanMichael A. Peterson
BudgetRevenue: $8,980,271
Expenses: $14,090,558
(FYE June 2016)[1]
Formerly calledInstitute for International Economics
Coordinates38.9083°N 77.0409°W / 38.9083; -77.0409
Address1750 Massachusetts Ave. NW

The Peterson Institute is not to be confused with the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, an entirely separate organization.


The Institute was founded by C. Fred Bergsten in 1981, in response to a proposal from the German Marshall Fund.[3] It moved to its current building on Massachusetts Avenue in 2001.

In 2006, a capital campaign led to the creation of a sizeable endowment. Previously known as the Institute of International Economics, it changed its name that same year in recognition of Peter G. Peterson's role in the capital campaign and for his longstanding support of the Institute since the early 1980s.

Adam S. Posen succeeded Bergsten as President on January 1, 2013.[4] Michael A. Peterson succeeded his father Peter G. Peterson as Chairman in the spring of 2018.

The Institute's annual budget is about $12-13 million and it is financially supported by foundations, private corporations, and individuals, as well as earnings from its publications and capital fund.[5]

Notable scholars

Notable resident scholars at the Peterson Institute include (as of March 2019):

Nonresident scholars (as of March 2019) include José de Gregorio, Simeon Djankov, Karen Dynan, Jason Furman, Patrick Honohan, Douglas Irwin, Robert Z. Lawrence, Arvind Subramanian, Edwin M. Truman, and Justin Wolfers.

Former scholars include Michael Mussa, Carmen Reinhart, Dani Rodrik, and John Williamson. The latter coined the term "Washington Consensus" while working at the Institute.[6]

Board of directors

The institute chairman is Michael A. Peterson. Other members of the Institute's board of directors (as of June 2018) include Lawrence Summers (vice chairman), Stephen Freidheim (chair of the executive committee), Ajay Banga, C. Fred Bergsten, Mark Bertolini, Ben van Beurden, Ronnie Chan, Richard N. Cooper, Jason Cummins, Barry Eichengreen, Stanley Fischer, Peter R. Fisher, Jacob A. Frenkel, Evan G. Greenberg, Maurice R. Greenberg, Jay Jacobs, Andrew N. Liveris, Sergio Marchionne, Peter R. Orszag, James W. Owens, Ginni Rometty, Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Richard E. Salomon, Mostafa Terrab, Mark Tucker, Jim Umpleby, Ronald A. Williams, Robert B. Zoellick, and Zhu Min.

Areas of research

  • "Debt and Development" – Corruption and Governance, Debt Relief, Foreign Aid/Technical Assistance, Technology and Developing Countries, Transition Economies, World Bank and Regional Development Banks.
  • "Globalization" – Politics of Globalization, Globalization and Labor, Globalization and Environment, Migration, Issues and Impact.
  • "International Finance/Macroeconomics" – Exchange Rate Regimes/Monetary Policy, Finance, Investment, and Debt, Global Financial Crises, International Monetary Fund, New Economy and Productivity, World Economy.
  • "International Trade and Investment" – Competition Policy, Corporate Governance/Transparency, E-commerce and Technology, Economic Sanctions, Energy, Foreign Direct Investment, Intellectual Property Rights, Regional Trading Blocs, Services, Tax Policy, WTO and Other Global Institutions.
  • "US Economic Policy" – Economic Sanctions, Foreign Aid/Technical Assistance, Trade Disputes, Trade Promotion Authority, US Monetary/Fiscal Policy, US Trade Policy.

2017 Tax reform debate

The Peterson Institute has been at the forefront of research on the proposals by the Trump Administration of reforming the tax code. Comparative analyses in advanced economies show the tax proposal will increase the budget deficit, unless coupled with a reduction of tax loopholes.


In an opinion piece for The New York Times published in 2016, Steven Rattner called the new building of the Peterson Institute "the locker room of the Team Globalization and Free Trade cheering squad." We should not close our borders or retreat from the world, said Rattner, but free trade has winners and losers, and "we need to be more sensitive to the losers and try to help," for example by redistribution of income through the tax system, which, he said, we haven't been doing. He goes on to state that Ross Perot was right when he said that the North American Free Trade Agreement would transfer American jobs to Mexico, particularly in manufacturing. From 2009 to 2013, employment in the American auto manufacturing sector rose by 23%, from 560,000 to 690,000. But employment in the Mexican auto sector rose from 368,000 to 589,000, or 60%. "I’m happy that 221,000 more Mexicans got jobs," he writes, "but let’s be honest: Absent open borders, many of those jobs would have been in America." He concludes by pointing out that wages in American auto manufacturing are down by 12.7%. Furthermore, American auto manufacturing compensation was $35.67 an hour; in Mexico, it was $6.36 an hour. Adam Posen, then the Peterson Institute's director, responded that “fetishization” of any industry was “immoral.”[7]


In 2001 the Peterson Institute moved into a building it commissioned and built at 1750 Massachusetts Avenue ("Embassy Row"), NW, Washington, D.C. It is located across from the main Brookings Institution building, diagonally across from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and next to the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

The building was designed by James von Klemperer from the architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox. Its state-of-the-art conference center is named in honor of the Institute's founder, C. Fred Bergsten. The sculpture garden is named in honor of Institute benefactor Anthony M. Solomon. The building houses several pieces of art donated by Stephan Schmidheiny, a former director of the Institute, including a sculpture by Joan Miró and a painting by Elizabeth Murray. It also houses collections of Chinese and African art donated by William M. Keck, Ambassador John M. Yates, and Anthony M. Solomon.

The building was granted the Best Architecture for 2001 award by the Washington Business Journal and won a Best Design award from the American Institute of Architects in 2003.[8] Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury and Under Secretary of State Stuart Eizenstat opined that the Peterson Institute building "is to international economics what the House that Ruth Built Yankee Stadium was to baseball".[8] A contemporary review by Washington Post architectural critic Benjamin Forgey observed that "this is a very pretty building, lovely to look at on its own," finding its proportions "satisfying" and its workmanship "superb".[9]


  1. "Institute for International Economics" (PDF). Foundation Center. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  2. James G. McGann (Director) (February 4, 2015). "2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report". Retrieved February 14, 2015. Other "Top Think Tank" rankings include #4 (of 80) in Domestic Economic Policy, #20 (of 30) in Domestic Health Policy, #14 (of 25) in Global Health Policy, #32 (of 80) in International Development, #1 (of 50) in International Economic Policy, #38 (of 45) in Science and Technology, #6 (of 75) for Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks, #12 (of 65) for Best Managed Think Tanks, #2 (of 40) for Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by a Think Tank, #4 (of 47) for Best Policy Study/Report Produced by a Think Tank (2013–2014), #16 (of 60) of Think Tanks with the Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program, #13 (of 40) for Best Use of Media, #7 (of 30) for Most Innovative Policy Ideas/Proposals, and #9 (of 70) for the Most Significant Impact on Public Policy.
  3. "Institute for International Economics Renamed in Honor of Founding Chairman Peter G. Peterson". PR Web. October 24, 2006.
  4. "Adam S. Posen to become new President". Peterson Institute. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
  5. "PIIE donor list" (PDF). Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  6. Williamson, John. "A Short History of the Washington Consensus" (PDF). Peterson Institute for International Economics. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  7. Steven Rattner (January 26, 2016). "What's Our Duty to the People Globalization Leaves Behind?". The New York Times.
  8. Bergsten, C. Fred. "The Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics at Twenty-five" (PDF). The Peter G. Peterson Institute. p. 18. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  9. Benjamin Forgey (November 17, 2001). "A Clear Alternative off Dupont Circle". The Washington Post.

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