Mauricio Cardenas Headshot

Mauricio Cardenas

Professor of Professional Practice in Global Leadership; Director, MPA in Global Leadership

Personal Details

Dr. Mauricio Cárdenas is Professor of Professional Practice in Global Leadership in the Faculty of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and Director of the MPA in Global Leadership. He is also affiliated with Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy where he conducts research on energy and climate policy. 

Dr. Cárdenas is a recognized expert on Latin America and an economist with vast academic and policymaking experience. As Colombia’s finance minister between 2012 and 2018 he led a series of fiscal reforms that cut payroll taxes, triggering an unprecedented increase in formal jobs, while also discouraging the use of tax heavens and criminalizing tax evasion for the first time. Facing a dramatic reduction in commodity export prices and government revenues, he implemented an adjustment program based on “intelligent austerity” that preserved high investment and resulted in sharp reductions in poverty and inequality. He was chosen by Euromoney as finance minister of the year in 2015. In addition to Finance, has been a minister in four other portfolios in Colombia: Economic Development, Transport, Planning (DNP), Mines and Energy. 

He has been twice executive director of Fedesarrollo, Colombia’s leading policy research center, and Senior Fellow and Director of the Latin America Initiative at the Brookings Institution.  He is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington D.C. 

He has been a member of The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response mandated by the World Health Assembly, 2020-2021. Co-chair of the Taskforce on Carbon Pricing and Net Zero (2021) and Chair of the ‘Doing Business’ External Review Panel (2021). He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a former president of the Board of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank (2016) and of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association (LACEA).

He has a long list of publications. His latest book Cómo Avanza Colombia (Penguin, 2021) is a reflection on the progress in a number of policy areas in his home country. He regularly writes commentary in the Project Syndicate and Americas Quarterly.

He is married and has three daughters. 

Honors and Awards

  • Chairman of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, 2015-2016
  • Vice-Chairman (2014-2015) and Chairman (2016) of the Intergovernmental Group of Twenty-Four (G-24)
  • Euromoney, Finance Minister of the Year 2015
  • Emerging Markets, Finance Minister of the Year. Latin America 2013
  • The Banker, Finance Minister of the Year. Latin America 2015
  • Latin Finance, Best Finance Minister. Latin America 2015
  • América Economía, Mejor Ministro de Finanzas de América Latina 2015

In The Media

Climate & Sustainable Development

Mauricio Cárdenas writes about the importance of finding a way to reduce our reliance on critical minerals for the success of the energy transition.

Jan 15 2024
World Economic Forum
Climate & Sustainable Development

Mauricio Cárdenas and Luisa Palacios discussed the region's clean energy opportunities and challenges in a one-hour program.

Nov 07 2023

SIPA Professor and former Colombia finance minister Mauricio Cárdenas reviews the significance of better GDP growth for the region's economies.

Oct 24 2023
Americas Quarterly
Democratic Resilience

Mauricio Cárdenas says Latin America seeks to go beyond being a mere supplier of raw materials.

Sep 14 2023

Are you looking for one great book this summer — or maybe a few? We’re pleased to share recommendations from our faculty and staff.

Jun 14 2023