The CFE offers a suite of courses exploring finance as a primary driving force in the prosperity, poverty, and progress of individuals, firms, and nations.

Founding Vision

Lou Maccini

The center and its mission are rooted in the visionary leadership of legendary and beloved Professor Lou Maccini, who attaches special meaning to the term financial economics, as distinct from finance. His judgment that finance had wandered too far from its roots in sound economic principles resonated with his former students in the finance industry, and together their work and generous donations created the CFE.

The CFE was born in 2007 as the world was about to plunge into the financial crisis, tragically affirming that Lou was right—he’ll tell you that he wishes he hadn’t been so right!

The economic and political upheaval that nations around the world are currently experiencing have many sources, but these unsettling developments are surely, in part, fallout from the financial crisis. We are committed to the project of explaining what happened in the past and figuring out how to do better in the future. One part of the solution, we’re confidenct, is sending wiser students forth into the financial industry, government, and academics.

The CFE was founded at an important moment in financial history, but also at an important moment in higher education. All universities face pressing questions about how best to advance and spread knowledge in the information age. Great research universities like Johns Hopkins face existential questions about how research universities must evolve to survive.

[Universities should] whet the appetite, exhibit methods, develop powers, strengthen judgment, and invigorate the intellectual and moral forces.
Daniel Coit Gilman

Johns Hopkins plays a special role in this discussion, for Hopkins was the first modern research university in the United States. Having led the first major revolution in higher education, Hopkins remains at the forefront, and the CFE is one part of efforts across the university to ensure that Hopkins plays a prominent role in the revolution now underway.

We believe that Daniel Coit Gilman, the University’s first president, provided two important guide-posts in his inaugural address, stating

The best teachers are usually those who are free, competent and willing to make original researches in the library and the laboratory…

The best investigators are usually those who have also the responsibilities of instruction, gaining thus the incitement of colleagues, the encouragement of pupils, the observation of the public…

What the great research universities have that no other institution can match is a setting in which the “best investigators” are incited by and, in turn, incite the most promising students. The CFE and its students will flourish in any age if we actively promote those life-changing and world-changing interactions when a student’s intellect is ignited by engaging with great thinkers, or the best researchers are driven forward by the persistent Whys? and Why nots? from the outstanding students.