In Memoriam: Charles Wolf, Jr.

Photo of Charles Wolf
Distinguished Chair in International Economics; Senior Economic Adviser; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in economics, Harvard University

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Charles Wolf passed away on October 24, 2016. He held the Distinguished Chair in International Economics at the RAND Corporation. He previously served as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State (1945–1947, 1949–1953). In the early 1950s, he was a visiting professor of economics and Asian studies at Cornell University and an assistant professor of economics and Far East studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He joined RAND in 1955 and headed the Economics Department from 1967 to 1981. He served as founding dean of the Pardee RAND Graduate School from 1970 to 1997; he was also now a professor at the school.

Wolf was a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and was on the advisory board of the Center for International Business and Economic Research at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He was a board member of Capital Income Builder and of Capital World Growth and Income, Inc., and a member of the American Economic Association, the Econometric Society, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

In 2007, Wolf received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, from the government of Japan. He was recognized for helping to nurture U.S. public opinion that was favorable to Japan through his balanced analyses and thereby promoting the maturation of Japan's relationship with the United States. The two-part ceremony was held at the Foreign Ministry office in Tokyo, followed by a reception with Emperor Akihito at the Imperial Palace. The award he received is Japan's highest honor for members of academia.

Wolf earned a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

Recent Projects

  • China's role in global merger and acquisition markets
  • China and India, 2025: A Comparative Assessment
  • Modernizing the North Korean System

Selected Publications

Charles Wolf, Jr., et al., U.S. Combat Commands' Participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative: A Training Manual, RAND Corporation (TR-654), 2009

Jerrold D. Green et al., Understanding Iran, RAND Corporation (MG-771), 2009

Charles Wolf, Jr., et al., Enhancement by Enlargement: The Proliferation Security Initiative, RAND Corporation (MG-806), 2008

Charles Wolf, Jr., Looking Backward and Forward: Policy Issues in the Twenty-First Century, Hoover Press, 2008

Charles Wolf, Jr., and Norman D. Levin, Modernizing the North Korean System: Objectives, Method, and Application, RAND Corporation (MG-710), 2008

Charles Wolf, Jr., and Thomas Lang, Russia's Economy: Signs of Progress and Retreat on the Transitional Road, RAND Corporation (MG-515), 2006

Charles Wolf, Jr., and Kamil Akramov, North Korean Paradoxes: Circumstances, Costs and Consequences of Korean Unification, RAND Corporation (MG-333), 2005

Charles Wolf, Jr., and Brian Rosen, Public Diplomacy: How to Think About and Improve It, RAND Corporation (OP-134), 2004

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: CBS; CNN; Los Angeles Times; National Journal; Newhouse News Service; San Francisco Chronicle; Wall Street Journal

Commentary: Asian Wall Street Journal; Hoover Institutional Policy Review; The International Economy; International Herald Tribune; Los Angeles Times; Milken Institute Review; New York Times; The Orange County Register; South China Morning Post; Wall Street Journal; The Weekly Standard


  • Delegates protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 25, 2016

    If Not Free Trade, Then What?

    It may not be unrealistic to hope that the next U.S. president could define and implement a concept of fair trade that is not antitrade.

    Nov 4, 2016 The Weekly Standard

  • Illustration of people thinking and organizing their thoughts

    Book Review: 'Bourgeois Equality'

    In Bourgeois Equality, economist and historian Deirdre McCloskey advances the theory that ideas — not capital, institutions, innovation, R&D, tax policy, monetary policy, or regulatory policy — are the propelling force behind economic and societal growth.

    Sep 30, 2016 The Weekly Standard

  • Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C.

    Central Bank Perversity

    Aggressive monetary policy has negative effects on retirees, on income inequality, and on market stability both domestically and globally.

    Sep 13, 2016 The International Economy

  • A man is seen next to signs of Chinese yuan and U.S. dollar at a foreign exchange store in Shanghai, January 8, 2016

    China's Yuan as a Reserve Currency: Boon or Bane for the Dollar?

    Establishing a system in which two reserve currencies compete with each other to affect global decisions about reserve holdings may lead to greater financial stability than the present dollar-dominated system.

    Jun 3, 2016 The Weekly Standard

  • Pump jacks are seen at the Lukoil company owned Imilorskoye oil field, as the sun sets, outside the West Siberian city of Kogalym, Russia, January 25, 2016

    Crude Economics, Crude Politics: Who Wins and Who Loses with Cheap Oil?

    What is the outlook for oil prices? And how can we assess the balance between positive effects on national security and negative effects on the national economy?

    Feb 26, 2016 The Weekly Standard

  • Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange after an announcement by the Federal Reserve, October 28, 2015

    Zero Interest, Greater Inequality?

    Low interest rates mandated by the Federal Reserve may have had and possibly continue to have adverse effects on income inequality. Those who argue for continuing near-zero short-term interest rate policy should be cognizant of this.

    Nov 2, 2015 U.S. News & World Report

  • Investors watch stock information at a brokerage house in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, August 25, 2015

    China's Currency

    Much of the worry in the United States and elsewhere about China's currency “manipulation” is overblown because a less restricted yuan would more likely be overvalued than undervalued, thereby adversely affecting Chinese trade and exports.

    Sep 28, 2015 The Weekly Standard

  • Chinese currency

    China's Foreign Aid Offensive

    China has given an average of $174 billion per year in foreign assistance for the last six years. How will the scale of its foreign aid change in the future?

    Jun 29, 2015 The Weekly Standard

  • An Iraqi soldier rides in an armoured vehicle in Salahuddin province, Iraq, March 4, 2015, where Islamic State militants set fire to oil wells in the Ajil field east of the city of Tikrit to try to hinder aerial attacks aimed at driving them from the oilfield

    Oil Bonanza: Good News for the World

    World oil prices have fallen by more than 40 percent since June 2014 and over the next several years prices are more likely to fall than to rise. The global economy will benefit hugely from this shift, and it's possible that global security will also benefit from lower oil prices.

    Mar 31, 2015 The International Economy

  • A man walking in the financial district of Pudong in downtown Shanghai

    The U.S.-China Crossover

    According to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. and Chinese GDPs in 2015 are $18.4 trillion and $11.1 trillion, respectively. Current and impending conditions in both economies suggest that the estimates of when China will surpass the U.S. are likely premature, and by a substantial margin.

    Mar 20, 2015 The Weekly Standard

  • A man at an Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City, October 2011

    Growth Versus Equality: Striking the Right Balance

    There's a difficult trade-off between income equality and the growth that comes from successful innovation. But one doesn't have to overwhelm the other.

    Jan 30, 2015 The Weekly Standard

  • Oil barrels under a clear, blue sky

    The Upside of Lower Oil Prices

    Movement toward sharply lower oil prices should be a prominent component of any strategy directed at disabling many of the world's most disruptive threats: Iran's nuclear development, ISIS, Hamas attacks on Israel, and Russia's threat to Ukraine.

    Oct 17, 2014 The Weekly Standard

  • Chinese Renminbi banknotes

    A Liberated Yuan Is Likely to Fall

    Some critics claim that the People's Bank of China is contriving to weaken the yuan's value to promote Chinese exports and stimulate the country's lagging growth. But the yuan's true value may be lower than some popular estimates.

    May 21, 2014 The Wall Street Journal

  • The facade of the Federal Reserve Bank

    The Fed and Inequality

    Pretax income inequality has been driven by long-term societal trends that are numerous, complex, and hard to change. They include education, parenting and family structure, neighborhood, immigration, globalization, and IT-based technology.

    Feb 13, 2014 The Weekly Standard

  • A Chinese contractor at the site of the Nairobi-Thika highway project

    The Strategy Behind China's Aid Expansion

    Between 2001 and 2011, China's pledged foreign aid was $671 billion. In all regions and countries, China's assistance focuses on the development of natural resources, principally energy-related (coal, oil, and gas). Both parties presumably benefit from China's aid but both are also exposed to added risks and hidden costs.

    Oct 9, 2013 The Wall Street Journal

  • In a photo from June 2013, Shinzo Abe speaks to an audience in London, England about Japan's economic revival.

    Japan's Sun May Be Rising

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plans for reviving Japan’s economy after two decades of stagnation differ sharply from the policies pursued by the United States and the European Union to recover from the deep recession of 2008-2009.

    Aug 9, 2013 The Weekly Standard

  • Euros and dollars on a flag

    Austerity and Stimulus—Two Misfires

    The experience to date strongly suggests that the reactions and behavior of private investors and consumers to stimulus in the U.S. and austerity in the EU critically affected each policy's tarnished record, writes Charles Wolf.

    May 22, 2013 The Wall Street Journal

  • Dong Hua Men night market in Beijing

    A Truly Great Leap Forward

    Charles Wolf Jr. reviews How China Became Capitalist by Ronald Coase and Ning Wang: The authors interpret China's rise in terms that are distinctly different from what has been accepted as conventional wisdom, which holds that China's dramatic rise has resulted from astute guidance by its Communist Party leadership.

    May 2, 2013 The Wall Street Journal

  • tax form

    Tax the Nonprofits

    Charles Wolf asks: Can the NPO sector contribute to easing the U.S. fiscal imbalance, while helping rather than hindering the dynamic free enterprise system, and retaining societal benefits provided by nonprofits?

    Mar 6, 2013 The Weekly Standard

  • Beijing street life

    The Paradoxes of China

    China is rife with paradoxes...of class, foreign aid, military spending, and corruption. Whether and how they are resolved will seriously affect the evolution of policies within China, as well as its future relations with the United States, writes Charles Wolf, Jr.

    Nov 2, 2012 The Weekly Standard

  • "We are the 99%. We are the one" sign held at Occupy Wall Street on 10/09/2011

    What Drives Income Inequality?

    The mixed picture of income inequality around the world reinforces the point that it is more important to know the underlying explanations for inequality across countries and within them, rather than the amount of inequality or changes in it, write Charles Wolf, Jr., and John Godges.

    Oct 24, 2012 The Orange County Register

  • Pro-Growth Austerity

    Government austerity and economic growth are not antonyms: Austerity in debt-financed government spending complements economic growth, rather than conflicting with it, writes Charles Wolf.

    Jun 27, 2012 The Weekly Standard

  • The Inequality Debate

    The inequality debate should focus more on the sources and reasons for inequality, and less on how much inequality there is, or how much it has changed, writes Charles Wolf, Jr.

    Jun 4, 2012 The International Economy

  • Questions After the First U.S. Bank Takeover by a Chinese State-Controlled Company

    In considering foreign application to acquire U.S. companies, the United States needs to consider both risks as well as benefits in both defense and economic dimensions, write Charles Wolf, Jr., Brian Chow, Gregory Jones, and Scott Harold.

    May 15, 2012 and

  • Where Keynes Went Wrong

    Failure to consider the potentially adverse effect of government spending on the preexisting level of aggregate demand was and remains a disabling flaw in Keynesian theory—then and now, writes Charles Wolf, Jr.

    Nov 7, 2011 on October 31, 2011 and in The Weekly Standard

  • How Might bin Laden's Demise Affect Business?

    Given how markets are responding thus far, Osama Bin Laden's death is likely to have a modestly positive and buoyant effect on equity markets, writes Charles Wolf, Jr.

    May 25, 2011 and

  • The Facts About American 'Decline'

    It's fashionable among academics and pundits to proclaim that the U.S. is in decline and no longer No. 1 in the world. The declinists say they are realists. In fact, their alarm is unrealistic, writes Charles Wolf, Jr.

    Apr 13, 2011 Wall Street Journal

  • China's Next Buying Spree: Foreign Companies

    What is significant about China's acquisitions over the past few years is the change they represent from the negligible amounts in the past, writes Charles Wolf, Jr.

    Jan 24, 2011 Wall Street Journal

  • The Cost Of Reuniting Korea

    Prospects for reuniting South and North Korea may be better than at any time since the demise in 1994 of North Korea's "Great Leader," Kim Il Sung. Several indicators suggest a possible move in this direction, writes Charles Wolf Jr.

    Mar 15, 2010

  • Asia's Nonproliferation Laggards: China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia

    The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction ranks as one of the biggest challenges facing the Obama administration. Luckily, Mr. Obama has a tool to combat this threat, in the form of the Proliferation Security Initiative.... The trick now will be to convince key Asian countries to participate, writes Charles Wolf Jr.

    Feb 9, 2009 Wall Street Journal Asia

  • Clarifying the Yuan Debate

    Deficit and surplus relationships between the U.S. and China, respectively, are actually of substantial mutual benefit to both countries, writes Charles Wolf Jr.

    Feb 1, 2008 Far Eastern Economic Review

  • Our Misplaced Yuan Worries

    To reduce the bilateral imbalances between China and the U.S. requires more carefully crafted policies than revaluation of the yuan, else the results could be perverse, writes Charles Wolf Jr.

    Dec 15, 2007 Wall Street Journal

  • A Few Low Notes Won't Spoil China-US Harmony

    A Few Low Notes Won't Spoil China-US Harmony, in South China Morning Post

    Aug 2, 2007 South China Morning Post

  • Paradoxes: Liberal...Conservative...Go Figure

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Paradoxes: Liberal...Conservative...Go Figure, in Milken Institute Review.

    Mar 26, 2007 Milken Institute Review

  • A Mighty Country's Progress and Regress

    Published commentary by RAND staff: A Mighty Country's Progress and Regress, in Project Syndicate--an association that distributes commentaries to 291 newspapers in 115 countries.

    Jan 4, 2007 Project Syndicate

  • Tokyo's Leverage Over Pyongyang

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Tokyo's Leverage Over Pyongyang, in the Asian Wall Street Journal.

    Nov 21, 2006 Asian Wall Street Journal

  • Shareholders Don't Shoot Each Other

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Shareholders Don't Shoot Each Other in the Wall Street Journal.

    Nov 23, 2005 Wall Street Journal

  • One Korea?

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jun 30, 2005 Wall Street Journal

  • A Sensible Solution To Beijing's Yuan Dilemma?

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    May 20, 2005 Asian Wall Street Journal

  • The Multilateral Path To Disarming North Korea

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Feb 16, 2005 Asian Wall Street Journal

  • A Tale of Two Economies

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Nov 10, 2004 Asian Wall Street Journal

  • Allies and Interests: A Test to Determine Who's an Ally

    In the mid-19th century, the foreign minister (and future prime minister) of Britain, Lord Palmerston, famously asserted that "we have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual enemies," and that Britain's interests "are eternal and perpetual."

    Jul 7, 2004 International Herald Tribune

  • China's Rising Unemployment Challenge

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jul 7, 2004 Asian Wall Street Journal

  • Postwar Rebuilding: Pick the UN's Best for a Wider Iraq Role

    Depending on whom you talk to, the United Nations is either an obstacle to more effective security and reconstruction efforts in Iraq, or an opportunity to advance precisely these goals.

    Nov 13, 2003 International Herald Tribune

  • Behind the Rhetoric

    A chronological list of commentaries authored by RAND staff and published in newspapers and magazines worldwide.

    Sep 26, 2003 South China Morning Post

  • Fault Lines: Eight Threats to China's Economic Miracle

    Among the four so-called "economic miracles" of the past half century—Germany after the second world war, Japan in the 1970s and 1980s, South Korea in the 1970s through to the mid-1990s, and China between 1980 and the present day—that of China has been the most remarkable.

    Aug 7, 2003 South China Morning Post

  • The Decision for War Was Still Right

    commentaries by RAND Staff: insightful commentaries on current events, published in newspapers, magazines and journals worldwide.

    Jul 18, 2003 Wall Street Journal

  • China: Pitfalls on Path of Continued Growth

    commentaries by RAND Staff: insightful commentaries on current events, published in newspapers, magazines and journals worldwide.

    Jun 1, 2003 Los Angeles Times

  • Doom or Boom?

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Dec 2, 2002 Wall Street Journal

  • The Buy-Side Revolution

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 27, 2002 Wall Street Journal

  • Uncertain Times for Foreign Investment in China

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jun 24, 2002 Wall Street Journal

  • Europeans Are Unilateralists Too

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    May 17, 2002 Wall Street Journal

  • The Wages of Comfort

    Published commentary by RAND staff

    Feb 24, 2002 Los Angeles Times

  • China's Capitalists Join the Party

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Aug 13, 2001 New York Times

  • Globalization: Less Than Meets the Eye

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Aug 10, 2001 International Herald Tribune

  • Tax Fairness Is in the Eye Of the Beholder

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Apr 17, 2001 Wall Street Journal

  • Communist Ideologues Struggle to Make Room for Capitalists

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Feb 11, 2001 Los Angeles Times

  • To Intervene or Not to Intervene

    When U.S. policymakers contemplate intervention abroad, they should do so with abundant humility, if not timidity, because of the profoundly uncertain connections between the blunt instruments they can use and the complex ends they seek.

    Nov 5, 2000 Los Angeles Times