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Vito Tanzi

Vito Tanzi

Vito Tanzi, Economist, Director of Fiscal Affairs Department, International Monetary Fund (1981–2000) Dr. Tanzi is also known for the Tanzi effect, or Olivera Tanzi effect, which refers to the diminished real value of tax revenues in periods of high inflation due to collection lags.


Vito Tanzi was born in Italy and is now a citizen of both Italy and the United States. He is married, has three sons, and resides in Bethesda, Md. USA.

He received degrees in economics, from Harvard University, (MA, 1963, and PhD, 1967), and from George Washington University (BA, 1959, “special honors in economics”, and MA, 1961).

In 1967-76 he was Professor of Economics (and Department Chair, 1970-73), at the American University, where he taught graduate courses in Public Finance and in Macroeconomics. Before that he had taught at George Washington University.

In 1974 he took leave from his academic position and joined the International Monetary Fund, as Head of the Tax Policy Division. In 1981 he became Director of the Fund’s Fiscal Affairs Department, a position he held until the end of 2000. In that position he supervised hundreds of economists, mostly with PH.Ds, directed the IMF work in the fiscal area, and advised the governments of many countries.

In 2001-2003 he served in the Italian Government, at ministerial level, as Undersecretary for Economy and Finance. From 2003 until 2006 he was a vising scholar at the Inter American Development Bank in Washington.

From 1990 to 1994 he was President of the International Institute of Public Finance (IIPF) of which he is now Honorary President.

He has been awarded honorary degrees from five universities: Torino and Bari, in Italy, Cordoba, in Argentina, Liege in Belgium, and Lisbon in Portugal. He has received various important prizes.

An economic effect (the “Tanzi effect”) was named after him. In 2018 he was made an external member of the Lisbon Academy of Science.

In recent years he has been a consultant to the UN, the European Commission, the European Central Bank, The World Bank, The Organization of American States, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

In addition to his general work in macroeconomics and in public finance, for both developed and developing countries, he has made important contributions to the economics of corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and the underground economy.

His recent work has been focused on the economic role of the state in market economies, on which he has published three books all with Cambridge University Press. The most recent of these books was The Termites of the State: How Complexity Leads to Inequality (2018). The Financial Times included this book among the 12 most important economics books of 2018. An other book, His previous book published by Cambridge University Press (and also in Russian bythe Gaidar Institute) in 2014 was included, by China Economics Network, among the 8 most important financial books of that year. The Ecology of Taxation, was published by Edward Elgar in 2018 when he also published an historical book, in Italian,  on the Italian Unification in 1861.

He is the author of hundreds of papers (many published in the top economics journals) and of at least two dozens books.