Robert C. Merton
|Born||July 31, 1944|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||Columbia University|
California Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
|Known for||Black–Scholes–Merton model|
Merton's portfolio problem
Long-Term Capital Management
|Awards||Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (1997)|
|Institutions||Massachusetts Institute of Technology Harvard University|
|Doctoral advisor||Paul Samuelson|
|Doctoral students||Jonathan E. Ingersoll |
Robert Cox Merton (born July 31, 1944) is an American economist, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences laureate, and professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, known for his pioneering contributions to continuous-time finance, especially the first continuous-time option pricing model, the Black–Scholes–Merton model. In 1997 Merton together with Myron Scholes were awarded the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for the method to determine the value of derivatives.
Merton's current research focus is on the topics of lifecycle investing and retirement funding, measuring and monitoring systemic risks in macrofinance, and financial innovation coupled with changing dynamics in financial institutions.
Merton was born in New York City to sociologist Robert K. Merton, who was of Jewish descent and Suzanne Carhart, who was from a "multigenerational southern New Jersey Methodist/Quaker family." He grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.
Merton earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Mathematics from the School of Engineering and Applied Science of Columbia University, a Masters of Science from the California Institute of Technology, and his doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970 under the guidance of Paul Samuelson.
In 1970 Merton joined the faculty of the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he taught until 1988. Subsequently, Merton moved to Harvard University, where he was George Fisher Baker Professor of Business Administration from 1988 to 1998. He was the John and Natty McArthur University Professor from 1998-2010, becoming Professor Emeritus at Harvard University in 2010.
In 2010 Robert C. Merton rejoined the MIT Sloan School of Management where he is the School of Management Distinguished Professor of Finance. Since 2010, he also has been a Resident Scientist at Dimensional Fund Advisors, working on pension management.
Merton received the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1997 for a new methodology to value derivatives. He is past President of the American Finance Association (1986), a member of the National Academy of Sciences (1993) and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Merton’s research focuses on finance theory including lifecycle finance, optimal intertemporal portfolio selection, capital asset pricing, pricing of options, risky corporate debt, loan guarantees, and other complex derivative securities. He has also written on the operation and regulation of financial institutions. Merton’s current academic interests include financial innovation and dynamics of institutional change, controlling the propagation of macro financial risk, and improving methods of measuring and managing sovereign risk. He is the author of Continuous-Time Finance, and a co-author of Cases in Financial Engineering: Applied Studies of Financial Innovation and The Global Financial System: A Functional Perspective; Finance; and Financial Economics. Merton was a founding co-editor of the Annual Review of Financial Economics, serving from 2009 to 2021.
Merton has also been recognized for translating finance science into practice. He received the inaugural Financial Engineer of the Year Award from the International Association of Financial Engineers in 1993, which also elected him a senior fellow. Derivatives Strategy magazine named him to its Derivatives Hall of Fame in 1998 as did Risk magazine to its Risk Hall of Fame in 2002. He also received Risk’s Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to the field of risk management in 2003. A distinguished fellow of the Institute for Quantitative Research in Finance ('Q Group', 1997) and a fellow of the Financial Management Association (2000), Merton received the Nicholas Molodovsky Award for Outstanding Contribution to Investment Research from the CFA Institute (2003).
His first professional association with a hedge fund came in 1968. His advisor at the time, Paul Samuelson, brought him on board Arbitrage Management Company (AMC), to join founder Michael Goodkin and chief executive Harry Markowitz. AMC is the first known attempt at computerized arbitrage trading. After a successful run as a private hedge fund, AMC was sold to Stuart & Co. in 1971. In 1993, Merton co-founded a hedge fund, Long-Term Capital Management, which earned high returns for four years but later lost $4.6 billion in 1998 and was bailed out by a consortium of banks and closed out in early 2000.
Merton married June Rose in 1966. They separated in 1996. They have three children: two sons and one daughter.
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Past recipients of the Financial Engineer of the Year award include Robert Merton (Harvard), Fischer Black, Mark Rubinstein (Berkeley) and Stephen Ross (Yale).
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