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Zsófia Barta

German Kennedy Memorial Fellow & Visiting Scholar 2020-2021

Residency Dates: September 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021 (virtually)


Zsófia Barta

Zsófia Barta is a political economist. She is associate professor in the department of political science at the University at Albany. Her main research interests focus on the politics of public debt, covering diverse aspects of public finances from societal conflicts surrounding austerity to the influence of the markets for government debt on policy choice. Her first book, In The Red: The Politics of Public Debt Accumulation in Developed Countries (University of Michigan Press, 2018) explored the variation in countries' ability to control their debt. The book received honorable mentions for the APSA’s European Politics and Society Section Best Book Award, the ISA’s International Political Economy Annual Best Book Award, and the SASE Alice Amsden Book Award. (Listen to a Rhodes Center podcast discussing the book below.) Barta’s current research focuses on sovereign credit rating agencies, particularly on the influence they exercise over politics and policy choice in developed democracies. She published the first results of this project in a series of journal articles in the Review of International Political Economy, Comparative Political Studies, the Journal of Public Policy and the Journal of European Integration among others.

At CES, Barta will work on her second book manuscript, Rating Politics: The Impact of Politics and Policy Choice on Sovereign Credit Ratings in Developed Countries – that discusses the reactions of sovereign credit ratings to politics and policy in developed countries in Europe and beyond. Rating Politics’ will demonstrate that sovereign ratings systematically reward and penalize certain political and policy developments. Given the significant influence of ratings on the interest rate charged on government debt, such rating penalties translate into more onerous financing conditions for countries characterized by such political and policy choices.

Barta holds a Ph.D. in European political economy from the London School of Economics and Political Science, an M.A. in international economics from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University and an M.Sc. in finance from the Budapest University of Economics. Prior to taking up her current position at the University at Albany, she held a Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence.

This information is accurate for the time period that the visiting scholar is affiliated with CES.


  • Associate Professor of Political Science, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, University at Albany, SUNY
  • German Kennedy Memorial Fellow & Visiting Scholar 2020-2021, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University

Research Project

Rating politics: The impact of politics and policy choice on sovereign credit rating


Political Science