Everything I Know About Good Economic Policy I Learned From Mother Teresa

(Editor’s note: On the occasion of the canonization of Mother Teresa, we reprint a 2013 column from Ralph Benko, our senior advisor, economics, from Forbes.com about his 1979 personal encounter with her.)

My close encounter with Mother Teresa was a chance one, in 1979.  This chance encounter taught me everything I know about good macroeconomic policy.

I, a young law student, was standing on 41st Street, by the Port Authority bus terminal in New York City, one afternoon.  I was waiting to be met by my then girlfriend.  I held three roses purchased for her inside the terminal.

She was late.  I walked down the long, deserted, New York City block looking for her.  And then I walked back.   Walking in the opposite direction was a small party: a priest, a monk, a nun dressed in white, and a tiny old woman, her face weather-beaten and lined, dressed in a coarse brown robe. I thought to myself, “the tiny woman sure looked like Mother Teresa.”

It did not immediately click. I was under the impression that Mother Teresa was far away in Calcutta.  It never occurred to me that she traveled.  She having been on the cover of Time Magazine, a few years before, under the headline “Living Saints,” I assumed her an international celebrity always thronged by crowds. Destined for the Nobel Peace Prize.  (Now beatified.)  I thought, based on the Time cover illustration, her to be 6 feet tall. So far away….

A priest, a monk, a nun, and … who else could it be? Continue Reading