Femme Finance

04.01.131:54 PM ET

Hélène Rey Named Top European Economist

The first woman to win the coveted Yrjö Jahnsson Award.

Hélène Rey, economist at London Business School, became the first woman to win the Yrjö Jahnsson Award last week. The prize recognizes an outstanding European economist under 45 whose work is relevant to Europe. The French-born Rey made waves with research pointing out that the U.S.’s role in the global financial crisis actually allowed it to borrow more cheaply and make riskier investments. This has worked out well, proving that the deficit is not such a bad problem after all. Rey has impressed economists throughout her career, from Ben Bernanke (who hired her at Princeton) to Nobel laureate Christopher Pissarides. On the lack of women in important economic roles, she says, “People don’t want to think very hard, so they come up with their own friends, and they’re all boys.” Rey shares the award with Thomas Piketty.