Professor Lalith P. Samarakoon serves as the Secretary-General and the Chief Economist of the National Economic Council. He is a financial economist, a professor of finance and the President of the Sri Lanka Finance Association. He is also a Chartered Accountant and a Certified Financial Analyst. Samarakoon is Sri Lanka’s first professor of finance and widely known and respected as the foremost authority on Sri Lanka’s financial sector.
As an economist, he has had nearly three decades of high-level advisory experiences with the World Bank, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), Ministry of Finance, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Colombo Stock Exchange and the banking sector, among others. His private sector experiences include investment and commercial banking, stock brokering, insurance, fund management, economic and financial analysis, and financial training.
Currently, he is on leave from his Professorship at the Department of Finance of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Previously, Samarakoon served as a Professor of Finance at the University of Houston and the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka. He held the position of Head of the Department of Accountancy and Financial Management at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura and Chair of the Department of Finance at the University of St. Thomas. Professor Samarakoon was the architect of the restructuring of the Faculty of Management Studies and Commerce of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. He was a member of the Board of Management of Postgraduate Institute of Management, Senate, Board of Graduate Studies, and Board of Study of Management and Commerce, among others, at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.
Samarakoon graduated from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura with a B.Sc. (special) degree in Business Administration with First Class Honors. Then, he joined its faculty as an Assistant Lecturer in Business Administration. He was awarded the Presidential Scholarship by the Government of Sri Lanka to follow postgraduate studies in the United States. Samarakoon earned an MBA in Finance from the University of New Hampshire, and a PhD in finance with specialization in international finance and economics from the University of Houston. Upon returning to Sri Lanka, he served as a Senior lecturer in Finance and went onto become Sri Lanka’s first professor of finance in 2001 with a meritorious triple promotion.
Professor Samarakoon teaches Contemporary Global Finance and Economic Issues and Policy, Global Economics, Global Financial Services and Emerging Financial Markets – China, International Finance, Financial Management, Corporate Finance, and Investments and Portfolio Management. He is an expert on emerging economies and the Chinese financial markets in particular. His areas of research include causes and international transmission of financial and economic crises, understanding monetary, fiscal and other policy issues and solutions associated with financial crises, monetary policy and asset bubbles, and global finance and emerging markets. He has published numerous scholarly articles covering developed, emerging and frontier markets. He has also presented at numerous international conferences. His most recent work involves the study of the eurozone debt crisis and its global contagion, and modelling monetary policy and asset bubbles.
He is a well-published researcher in the areas of capital markets and international finance, and received Sri Lanka’s highest research recognition – the Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Sri Lankan Science – from the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science. Students and executives from both the private and public sectors have benefited from his books, teaching and training over the past 25 years. He has authored five books – Sri Lankan Corporate Bond Market, Debt Securities: Markets, Instruments and Analysis, Equity Securities: Theory and Practice, Financial Markets of Sri Lanka (in Sinhala and Tamil), four of which are published by the SEC and widely used as standard texts on financial markets in Sri Lanka.