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Professor Sudipto Bhattacharya

(1951-2012)

The death of Professor Sudipto Bhattacharya was met with considerable shock and sadness, both in the Department of Finance and the whole of the LSE. This has also been reflected in the wider international academic community. Sudipto had been a professor of finance at LSE since 1995 and played an instrumental role in transforming the School’s finance group from a handful of academics into a large and vibrant modern finance department, with a faculty of over 30. Sudipto was particularly influential in the design of the MSc Finance and Economics, whilst at the same time contributing greatly to the international projection of finance at LSE, enabling us to recruit outstanding faculty and students. All those that met and worked with him will know of his intellectual integrity and acute and very individual analytical skills, which he applied in all of his research and in his seminar and conference participation. However, to many of us, both staff and students, he will be most fondly remembered for his somewhat unorthodox sense of humour and personal style.

Raised in an academic family in India, Sudipto began his education with a BSc in Physics from the University of Delhi, followed by postgraduate studies in business administration at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He then travelled to the USA, where he obtained a PhD in economics and finance at MIT under the supervision of Prof Stewart Myers. Sudipto was recognized as one of the outstanding young economists of his time, holding assistant professorships at the University of Chicago and Stanford University, during which he won prestigious Batterymarch and Bell Labs Research Fellowships. These appointments were followed by tenured positions at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Michigan. In 1989 Sudipto returned to his roots as Professor of Economics at the University of Delhi, where he remained for 5 years, before joining the LSE faculty in 1995.

In the early part of his career Sudipto’s work was concerned with the role of information in financial markets, writing seminal papers on signalling and delegated portfolio management. At the same time he showed the breadth of his skills and insights in a number of papers on theoretical asset pricing. His later work, post 1987, had two main themes, one a deeper understanding of banking and financial intermediation and a second, concerning innovation, research and development. In the latter, his work on the sharing of knowledge is generally regarded as seminal. Most recently, Sudipto was working on a number of projects relating to financial crises and contagion in financial markets aimed at improving our understanding of the risks facing the financial system and how to manage them. Scattered throughout his career are a number of edited volumes (notably with George Constantinides and Arnoud Boot and Anjan Thakor) and survey papers, in which Sudipto demonstrated a remarkable ability to draw together large literatures and organise the key contributions around a small number of salient principles. In this his skill and knowledge of the literature was second to none. At times it seemed as if there was nothing that he hadn’t read and understood thoroughly. His contributions are broad and many and will be long remembered.

Sudipto worked with many co-authors, some of whom were his PhD students. Notable amongst his students are Jay Ritter, Kathleen Haggerty and Charles Jacklin. Countless students and young faculty members benefited from conversations with him and learnt from his skill as a seminar participant, where his comments were often extraordinarily illuminating and insightful, and often interwoven with (sometimes good) jokes. Sudipto was a one off. He was an unusually idiosyncratic individual, so for most of us our memories will be quite personal and very special. However, it is certainly the case that his unique personality, intellect and engaging personal style will be missed by many of us and will leave a gap that will be impossible to fill. We will remember him with affection and admiration. Our thoughts and thanks are with his family.
 

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Professor Sudipto Bhattacharya