Turning points here and there…
I am a Mexican economist, born to Gustavo Armendáriz Ruíz and María Luisa Guerra de Armendáriz. I was born in Comitán de Domínguez, Chiapas on 20th September 1959, into a family of eight children. I keep fond memories of my childhood in Comitán and San Cristóbal de las Casas, where the family moved when I was 11 years old.
I completed my secondary education in Elgin, Illinois. I returned to México where I studied for a B.A. in economics at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM). I was then puzzled by the relatively low increase in staple food production during the green revolution in my native Chiapas, and wrote my Bachelor thesis on this topic.
I moved on to post graduate work. First at Harvard, and then at the University of Cambridge where I obtained an MPhil in Economics.
I married Philippe Aghion and returned to Cambridge Massachusetts where I became a Visiting Scholar at MIT. My arrival coincided with one of the most virulent Latin American financial crises, in the mid-1980s. I started working on my dissertation, Foreign Debt Negotiations: An Historical and Theoretical Analysis, under the supervision of Rudiger Dornbusch. It was during this period that I became a mother of two lovely children, Mikhaela and Eduardo.
The family moved to Paris in 1989. In Paris I worked for the Development Centre at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). I launched the initiative for México to join the OECD, and a few years later Mexico became the first Latin American OECD member-country. It was also in Paris where I finished my PhD dissertation at l’École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.
The entire family moved from Paris to London where I joined the London School of Economics (LSE) as a Lecturer in Economics. It was at the LSE where I met a former student of mine from Bangladesh, Lamiya Morshed. She explained to me that contracts without collateral were not a feature of sovereign debt contracts only; that poor individuals in Bangladesh were contracting loans without collateral for income generation and poverty alleviation.
Lamiya encouraged me to spend the entire summer of 1995 in Bangladesh. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) financed my trip, and entrusted me with seed capital to start a microfinance enterprise, Grameen Trust Chiapas.
My research agenda in the mid-1990s changed radically from contracts without collateral in international finance to contracts without collateral in microfinance. My research in microfinance has been published in various journals. These, together with my field experience in Bangladesh, Chiapas, and Latin America helped collaborative efforts for the "Economics of Microfinance" book, published by MIT Press. The second edition of my book (joint with Jonathan Morduch) was published in 2010 http://books.google.fr/books/about/The_Economics_of_Microfinance.html?id=i40pAQAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y. It has been subsequently translated into Spanish by El Fondo de Cultura Económica in 2011. The Chinese edition appeared in 2013.
I was promoted Senior Lecturer in Economics at University College London (UCL) in 1999. And in the early 2000s my whole family moved back to the United States where I joined the MIT faculty as a Visiting Associate Professor in Economics. But the entire family moved back to London, where I re-joined UCL, and then back again to Cambridge, Massachusetts.
I joined the Harvard Economics Department as a Lecturer in Economics. My marriage abruptly broke down in 2004. But I had to remain in Cambridge until my youngest child completed secondary education.
In September 2008 I got married to Georges-Antoine Capitani. I happily return to Europe with him. Georges-Antoine and I now have a beautiful girl by the name Lara, born in August 2016. My entire family has now settled in Europe.
Georges-Antoine and I regularly go back to Cambridge, Massachusetts, which we find as intellectually challenging as ever. It is always a joy to re-encounter good old friends on the other side of the Atlantic.
During most of the academic year I commute between London and Paris. The Eurostar has become a good ally. I have good friends on both sides of the Eurotunnel and an exciting academic life at UCL.
In parallel to joint work for a new book on Latin America, also for MIT Press, my research nowadays is focusing on corporate social responsibility, on gender equity, and on the economics of street children from field work in Dakar and Bogotá. While research and field work in development and poverty alleviation are my passion, I thoroughly enjoy teaching microeconomics and applied economic analysis.