Author and Journalist

Neil Irwin is senior economic correspondent at The New York Times and author of The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers and a World on Fire and How to Win in a Winner-Take-All World. Irwin writes frequently about the U.S. and global economic trends; economic policy; and the interconnections between economics, politics, and financial markets.

Irwin was a founding staff member of The Upshot, the Times's site for analytical and explanatory journalism. He was previously a reporter and columnist at The Washington Post, where he led coverage of the global financial crisis.

He often analyzes economic trends on television and radio, including appearances on the PBS Newshour, CBS This Morning, BBC America, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, and public radio's Marketplace.

Irwin has an M.B.A. from Columbia University, where he was a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism. His undergraduate studies were at St. Mary's College of Maryland, where he served on the Board of Trustees from 2007 to 2013. 

Irwin lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Sarah Halzack.

Read Irwin's most recent articles in the Times here.

How to win
in a winner-take-All world

The Definitive Guide to Adapting and Succeeding in High-Performance Careers

“Neil Irwin has written a wonderful, fascinating narrative of our fast-changing world, filled with erudite analysis and practical advice. His conclusion: The people who adapt are the ones who win―in business and life―and adaptation isn’t an inborn trait, but something we can all cultivate and learn. This is a map to the modern economy―and a lodestar for navigating your career.” 

Charles Duhigg, bestselling author of The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better


“How do you prepare for a stable career when the world of work is changing under your feet? Read this excellent book. Neil Irwin offers insights that are interesting, thought-provoking, and surprisingly useful for identifying the skills and experiences that will prepare you to succeed today and adapt tomorrow.” 

Adam Grant, bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take, and host of the TED podcast WorkLife


“How to Win in a Winner-Take-All World demonstrates why Neil Irwin is one of America’s most highly regarded economic journalists. He offers shrewd practical advice ― why you should combine skills rather than focus on a single aptitude, how big data can improve your job performance, and why working hard but not too hard is the key to results. If you want to navigate the rocky terrain of modern work, this book is your map and Irwin is your guide.” 

Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of When, To Sell Is Human, and Drive

Every ambitious professional is trying to navigate a perilous global economy to do work that is lucrative and satisfying, but some find success while others struggle to get by. In an era of remarkable economic change, how should you navigate your career to increase your chances of landing not only on your feet, but ahead of those around you?

In How to Win in a Winner-Take-All World, Neil Irwin, senior economic correspondent at the New York Times, delivers the essential guide to being successful in today’s economy when the very notion of the “job” is shifting and the corporate landscape has become dominated by global superstar firms. He shows that the route to success lies in cultivating the ability to bring multiple specialties together―to become a “glue person” who can ensure people with radically different technical skills work together effectively―and how a winding career path makes you better prepared for today's fast-changing world. Through original data, close analysis, and case studies, Irwin deftly explains the 21st century economic landscape and its implications for ambitious people seeking a lifetime of professional success.

Using insights from global giants like Microsoft, Walmart, and Goldman Sachs, and from smaller lesser known organizations like those that make cutting-edge digital effects in Planet of the Apes movies or Jim Beam bourbon, How to Win in a Winner-Take-All World illuminates what it really takes to be on top in this world of technological complexity and global competition.

Learn more about the book here. Read an excerpt in The New York Times here. Or order at these retailers:

The Alchemists
Three Central bankers and a world on fire
"An accessible, engrossing account… [Irwin] has a nice touch for translating central banking's mysteries, opaque and forbidding, into understandable English."
—The New York Times
"An excellent account...scrupulously reported and full of clear explanations of events and economic incredibly valuable book for all economically concerned non-economists."
—Foreign Affairs
"A detailed and fast-moving account of these perilous years. This is the crisis as told through emails, phone calls, meetings and one very fateful walk along the beach in Deauville, France."
—The Wall Street Journal

When the first fissures became visible to the naked eye in August 2007, suddenly the most powerful men in the world were three men who were never elected to public office. They were the leaders of the world’s three most important central banks: Ben Bernanke of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Mervyn King of the Bank of England, and Jean-Claude Trichet of the European Central Bank. Over the next five years, they and their fellow central bankers deployed trillions of dollars, pounds and euros to contain the waves of panic that threatened to bring down the global financial system, moving on a scale and with a speed that had no precedent.

Neil Irwin’s The Alchemists is a gripping account of the most intense exercise in economic crisis management we’ve ever seen, a poker game in which the stakes have run into the trillions of dollars. The book begins in, of all places, Stockholm, Sweden, in the seventeenth century, where central banking had its rocky birth, and then progresses through a brisk but dazzling tutorial on how the central banker came to exert such vast influence over our world, from its troubled beginnings to the Age of Greenspan, bringing the reader into the present with a marvelous handle on how these figures and institutions became what they are – the possessors of extraordinary power over our collective fate.  What they chose to do with those powers is the heart of the story Irwin tells.

Irwin covered the Fed and other central banks from the earliest days of the crisis for the Washington Post, enjoying privileged access to leading central bankers and people close to them. His account, based on reporting that took place in 27 cities in 11 countries, is the holistic, truly global story of the central bankers’ role in the world economy we have been missing.  It is a landmark reckoning with central bankers and their power, with the great financial crisis of our time, and with the history of the relationship between capitalism and the state. Definitive, revelatory, and riveting, The Alchemists shows us where money comes from—and where it may well be going.

The Alchemists, published in 2013 by the Penguin Press, was short-listed for the Financial Times-McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award, was a New York Times Bestseller, and appeared on year-end best book of the year lists from outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and NPR.

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