Brad W. Setser

Senior Fellow


Central bank reserves and sovereign wealth funds, IMF policy, emerging market economies.


Brad W. Setser is a senior fellow in the Greenberg Center for Geoeconomics. His expertise includes international macro-economics, global capital flows, financial vulnerability analysis, sovereign debt restructuring and the management of financial crises. 

Setser served as the deputy assistant secretary for international economic analysis in the U.S. Treasury from 2011 to 2015, where he worked on Europe’s financial crisis, currency policy, financial sanctions, commodity shocks and Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. He was previously the director for international economics, serving jointly on the staff of the National Economic Council and the National Security Council.  

He is the author of Sovereign Wealth and Sovereign Power (CFR, 2008) and the coauthor, with Nouriel Roubini, of Bailouts and Bail-ins: Responding to Financial Crises in Emerging Economies (Peterson Institute, 2004), which draw lessons emerging market financial crises between 1995 and 2003.   His work has been published in Foreign Affairs, Finance and Development, Global Governance and Georgetown Journal of International Law, among others. 

Setser was an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2003, and a fellow from 2007 to 2009. He also has been the director of global research for Roubini Global Economics and a visiting scholar at the International Monetary Fund. He holds a BA from Harvard University, a masters from Sciences-Po and an MA and PhD in international relations from Oxford University.

All Publications


China's Difficult Choices

CFR's Brad Setser examines U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's statements about the need to rebalance China's economic relations with the United States and says China shouldn't be overly concerned about the risks of U.S. inflation.

See more in China; Monetary Policy

Contingency Planning Memorandum

If the U.S. Dollar Plummets

Author: Brad W. Setser

The scale of financing needed to support the U.S. fiscal deficit—together with the Federal Reserve’s policy of keeping U.S. interest rates low to ward off deflation—has revived concerns about a sudden and sharp depreciation of the U.S. dollar. This Center for Preventive Action Contingency Planning Memorandum by Brad W. Setser examines potential triggers and indicators of such a crisis and posits concrete policy options to limit U.S. vulnerability to the possibility of a plummeting dollar.

See more in United States; Monetary Policy

Other Report

GCC Sovereign Funds: Reversal of Fortune

Authors: Brad W. Setser and Rachel Ziemba

For several years, high oil prices enabled the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to add large sums to their state coffers. Falling oil prices imply that some Gulf countries may need to draw on their depleted funds to cover their import bills. In this Center for Geoeconomic Studies Working Paper, Brad W. Setser and Rachel Ziemba examine the impact of the fall in global equities on the Gulf’s large funds and explore how various oil price scenarios could shape those funds’ future growth.

See more in Regional Security; Middle East and North Africa; Sovereign Wealth Funds


Sovereign Wealth Funds

Author: Brad W. Setser

Brad Setser argues that the best way to address concerns over sovereign wealth are policy shifts in the United States and abroad that would reduce surpluses abroad and U.S. deficits, and bring the U.S. external deficit back to a level that could be more easily be financed by private demand for U.S. assets.

See more in United States; Sovereign Wealth Funds

Council Special Report No. 37

Sovereign Wealth and Sovereign Power

Author: Brad W. Setser

The rise in China's trade surplus, the increase in oil prices, and a slowdown in demand for U.S. assets from private investors abroad has increased the United States' reliance on foreign governments for financing. This report examines whether the United States' ability to secure large quantities of external financing from foreign governments is a reflection of its political power, a constraint on its ability to exercise power, or a combination of the two.

See more in United States; Financial Crises


What's in a Name?

Author: Brad W. Setser
Emerging Markets

China’s sovereign wealth fund looks more like a state agency for managing financial sector investments than a diversified global fund manager, says Brad Setser in a piece that first appeared in the May 2008 issue of Emerging Markets.

See more in Emerging Markets; China


What to Do with Over a Half a Trillion a Year? Understanding the Changes in the Management of China’s Foreign Assets

Author: Brad W. Setser
RGE Monitor

The China Investment Corporation’s $5 billion investment in Morgan Stanley, its $3 billion investment in Blackstone and the China Development Bank’s likely $2b investment in Citigroup have attracted an enormous amount of attention.  In this paper for RGE Monitor, Brad Setser examines the unprecedented growth in China ’s foreign assets, the key institutions managing these assets, and the composition of China's aggregate external portfolio.

See more in China; United States; International Finance


Understanding the New Financial Superpower - The Management of GCC Official Foreign Assets

Authors: Brad W. Setser and Rachel Ziemba
RGE Monitor

With oil at $100, what do we know about how the big oil exporters are managing their petrodollars? In this paper for RGE Monitor, Brad Setser and Rachel Ziemba examine the different GCC funds and estimate that total Gulf investment abroad exceeded $2 trillion in 2007.  One surprising conclusion that emerges from their analysis is that the Gulf as a whole has not diversified away from the dollar.

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Regional Security; International Finance

CFR Events

Conference Call

Global Markets and the Chinese Economy

Speakers Sebastian Mallaby

Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations

, Brad W. Setser

Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Presider Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

January 6, 2016 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

January 6, 2016

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

The Financial Crisis: Where Do We Go From Here?

Speakers Nouriel RoubiniProfessor of Economics, Stern School of Business, New York University; Chairman, RGE Monitor, Brad W. SetserFellow for Geoeconomics, Council on Foreign Relations, Benn SteilDirector of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations
Presider Mortimer B. ZuckermanEditor-in-Chief, U.S. News & World Report
September 25, 2008 7:45–8:00 a.m. - Breakfast Reception
8:00–9:00 a.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

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