Graciana del Castillo Obituary
March 26, 2019
The Center on Capitalism and Society regrets to inform members and friends of the death of Graciana del Castillo, who passed away on March 21, 2019, in New York City. Graciana was Associate Director of the Center on Capitalism and Society from 2008 until late 2009. She was an economist with a Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University and occupied prominent positions in several international organizations, including Director of Sovereign Ratings at Standard & Poor’s, where she helped alleviate economic crises in several countries.
For her doctoral and master's theses, she worked with three economists who later won the Nobel Prize: Robert Mundell, William Vickrey and Edmund Phelps. During her career, Del Castillo was principal investigator and associate director of the Center for Capitalism and Society at Columbia University, of which Edmund Phelps is the director. She was also a senior economist at the Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) and later joined the International Monetary Fund. She is the author of Rebuilding War-Torn States: The Challenges of Post-Conflict Economic Reconstruction (Oxford University Press, 2008) and of Guilty Party: The International Community in Afghanistan (XLibris, 2014). Her academic articles have been published in top economic and political journals and her press articles have appeared in over seventy newspapers worldwide. She was also a Director of Sovereign Ratings at Standard & Poor’s, a board member of the Centennial Group Latin America, a senior consultant to the Inter-American Development Bank, a visiting scholar at the OECD Development Center, and an economic advisor to the Mission of Uruguay at the UN.
One of her most striking accomplishments was advising the special representative of the UN Secretary General and Kosovo's administration to boost the country's economy after the Balkan War. "I remember that I arrived in Kosovo when the NATO bombing ended - between the end of March and the beginning of June 1999 - and within a month, by decree, we made all the infrastructure of a country that did not exist. It is very stimulating to see how there is an immediate impact of your work, " she recalled. She also designed the land arms program for El Salvador, which put the peace process back on track. "They were very tough negotiations, although working with the Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation and seeing all the problems was very interesting (...) when there are minefields and a militarized civil police, it is all very different. We had to offer the guerrillas something in economic terms to be part of the peace process, " she said.