Post Date: October 27, 2006

On Thursday, October 19, the Program on International Financial Systems celebrated its 20th anniversary, honoring two decades of commitment to international financial law. Guest speakers Dean Elena Kagan ’86 and investor Wilbur Ross welcomed the crowd, and recognized the range of contributions that PIFS has made toward solving critical international financial regulatory problems throughout the world.

Launched in 1986 by current HLS Nomura Professor of International Financial Systems, Hal Scott, PIFS initially began in partnership with Lecturer on Law Phillip Wellons, then at the Harvard Business School. The intention was to combine shared interests and knowledge of international development, and take a serious look at the regulatory and legal dimensions of the world’s financial structures. Back then, the program was primarily centered around development assistance on an overall global scale. Today, the focus has shifted, and the emphasis is on encouraging global dialogue among the largest economies or “super-emerging” countries. Overall however, the PIFS goal has remained steady: to build and maintain global connections.

“Recognition that we are, after all, in one world and financial events in other jurisdictions have an impact, although of varying severity, on the global financial scene,” said Afolabi Elebiju LL.M. ’07, commenting on how the program had changed his perspective.

The fruits of the PIFS program are far-reaching and varied. As an integral part of the HLS community, PIFS is on the forefront of research, publications and academic opportunity. Focused on the effects of governmental policy in relation to financial markets, the program also provides public policy advice to governments and financial regulators.

PIFS has helped establish the international environment at HLS, and many programs have benefited from the expertise it provides. In 1999, when the LLM program announced its international finance concentration, Scott helped coordinate and engineer the program. Today, the international finance concentration remains one of the most popular among the LLM students.