Director, Thematic Research, Deutsche Bank
Course and Program Areas
What do you teach and why?
I teach at both Harvard Extension School and Harvard Kennedy School. I have had the pleasure of teaching Game Theory, Capital Markets, Microeconomic Theory, and Macroeconomics, and more recently Financial Technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, and Cryptocurrencies and Mergers, Acquisitions, and Restructurings.
Over the past seven years, I feel very lucky to have been surrounded by remarkable students. They have not only achieved brilliant things in their careers, but many have already made a difference for the good of society.
“Being at Harvard enables you to discuss hundreds of current policy topics and to make and remake the world from scratch every week with bright people from many different countries and walks of life.”
Why would you choose Harvard if you were a student?
I would choose to attend Harvard Extension because of the talented people from all over the world that you meet and get to know! Being at Harvard enables you to discuss hundreds of current policy topics and to make and remake the world from scratch every week with bright people from many different countries and walks of life.
At Harvard, you will be inspired and stimulated and get the energy — and resilience — to apply for dozens of jobs unsuccessfully before getting your dream job. Harvard is not a destination: it is a starting point that will open your horizons and grow your opportunities exponentially.
What first drew you to the field of economics and finance?
I completed an undergraduate degree in quantitative mathematics and econometrics at the University of Paris Dauphine and a master’s in European politics and international relations at the European Institute of the London School of Economics.
My professional journey started at the European Commission in Brussels at the Bureau of European Policy Advisers, which advises the president. I then worked as an economist at Barclays in London and next at the Central Bank of Luxembourg. I was also a fellow researcher at the International Monetary Fund.
“The best way to learn a topic is to practice it. If you are thinking about studying cooking, start making dinner for your partner or friends. If you are interested in economics, read the news, try to write an op-ed, and so on. Real life and practice are much more important than theory.”
I did a PhD in economics at the Ecole Normale Superieure and ended up lecturing in the economics department at Harvard. Although working at Harvard was an unplanned way to follow my partner to the United States, it turned out to be one of the most interesting times in my life and was a great platform to grow.
I ended up writing three books and won several awards for my research. However, the one thing I was missing was the fast-paced, collaborative, and real-world focus of investment banking. That is why I am now back in London, working at Deutsche Bank. Harvard allowed me to keep my position, so I still teach students every week.
What is your current area of focus or research?
I am especially interested in the topics of inequality and the democratization of finance. I recently published a book Democratizing Finance about financial technology and how it can reduce inequality.
Tune in: Hear Marion discuss her book on our CARC Podcast.
Technology can help people overcome the poverty trap, especially in emerging economies. If you look at what is happening in Africa, India — Asia overall — and even in Latin America, it is spectacular how widespread access to mobile banking, for example, is enabling millions of people to play a role in the economy for the first time.
Financial technology (fintech) is a global equalizer that can reduce the severe inequalities between countries that emerged during the first Industrial Revolution. In developing countries, fintech is lifting people out of poverty by providing access to basic banking, payment, and insurance services. In developed countries, fintech is also having an equalizing impact by offering new investment tools to the middle class and alternative loan solutions to the underserved.
What advice would you give to future students interested in taking your courses or returning to school as an adult student?
First, invest in education! As Nelson Mandela put it, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Warren Buffett said, “The best investment you can make, is an investment in yourself. The more you learn, the more you’ll earn.” I fully agree.
My move to LSE was not a natural one and was definitely outside my comfort zone. Despite having studied mathematics and advanced quantitative skills for my bachelor’s degree, I decided to pursue economics when I went to LSE for my master’s. Although I have never shied away from a challenge — while studying full time I committed 12 years to piano performance until I achieved my gold medal — I found this move challenging!
Second, theory matters, but learning by doing matters even more. The best way to learn a topic is to practice it. If you are thinking about studying cooking, start making dinner for your partner or friends. If you are interested in economics, read the news, try to write an op-ed, and so on. Real life and practice are much more important than theory.
Which issue do you most care about?
Financial literacy is a problem everywhere, including in advanced economies. In a recent survey, only one-quarter of all adults in the 38 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries responded correctly to questions about simple and compound interest. Only 53% of all surveyed adults — and 57% in the OECD countries — achieved the minimum target score.
This highlights the importance of financial education, which should be an integral part of school curricula. It is also a reason why regulation is so vital to protect consumers, firms, and governments.
In developing countries, governments must play a central role in creating inclusive financial ecosystems. Consider India’s ambitious Aadhaar programme. This centralized digital identification scheme was initially intended to facilitate the delivery of government benefits. But it now also helps banks to verify customers seeking to open accounts. This has helped to bolster financial access and paved the way for several innovative financial services in India.
More About Marion
Marion Laboure is a senior economist at Deutsche Bank in London and a lecturer at Harvard University. She has extensive private sector, public policy, and monetary policy experience, including at the European Commission, the IMF, the Luxembourg Central Bank, and Barclays. She received first prize from the American Society of Actuaries, Revue Banque nominated her as a rising star in finance, she is part of the 45 standout women in fintech, and Business Insider named her a cryptocurrency mastermind. She is the author of Democratizing Finance published by Harvard University Press.