Sean Turnell



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Professor Sean Turnell is Honorary Professor of Economics at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He has had a distinguished career in government, banking and academia. Professor Sean Turnell is a devoted economist, and he has interest in areas of public policy, economic transition, economic development, and financial reform. Since the early 2000s, he has worked tirelessly on Myanmar economic and banking issues to bring to the table the best possible practices to help Myanmar with economic reforms and growth.


Sean joined the Economics Department of Macquarie University in 1991.

His research interests include:

  • Burma and its economy,
  • financial sector reform in developing countries,
  • the history of global monetary institutions, and
  • the history of Australian economic thought.


As well as teaching and research at Macquarie University, Professor Turnell's experience includes:

Special Economic Consultant to the State Counsellor, Government of the Union of Myanmar, 2016–2020

Senior Economic Adviser to the Minister of Planning, Finance and Industry, Government of the Union of Myanmar, 2016–2020

Director of Research, Myanmar Development Institute, 2016–2020

Senior Analyst, Bank Supervision Department, Reserve Bank of Australia, 1990–1991

Analyst, Domestic Markets Department, Reserve Bank of Australia, 1988–1990

Senior Clerk, Securities Markets Department, Reserve Bank of Australia, 1985–1988

Clerk, Exchange Control Department, Reserve Bank of Australia, 1983–1985


Sean has authored two books:

The Struggle for Economic Reform in Myanmar. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) Press (2021, Forthcoming).

Fiery Dragons: Banks, Moneylenders and Microfinance in Burma. Copenhagen, Denmark:  NIAS Press (2009).

And has also published many book chapters, including:

Turnell, S. (2016). Microfinance in Myanmar: Releasing the potential’. In Melissa Crouch (ed), The Business of Transition in Myanmar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Turnell, S. (2014). The glass has water: A stock-take of economic reforms in Myanmar. In Nick Cheeseman, Nicholas Farelly and Trevor Wilson (Eds.), Debating Democratization in Myanmar (pp.181-204). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Turnell, S. (2014). Burma’s economy and the struggle for reform. In Mikael Gravers and Flemming Ytzen (Eds.), Burma/Myanmar: Where Now? (pp.369-386). Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies.

Turnell, S. (2014). Legislative foundations of Myanmar’s economic reforms. In Melissa Crouch and Tim Lindsay (Eds.), Law, Society and Transition in Myanmar (pp.183-200). Oxford: Hart Publishing.

Turnell, S. (2014). Least free: The economic consequences of fifty years of totalitarian rule in Burma. In Gregory C.G. Moore (ed.), The Open Society and its Enemies in East Asia (pp.78-94). London: Routledge.

Education/Academic qualification

Economics, PhD, Monetary Reformers, Amateur Idealists and Keynesian Crusaders: Australian Economists' International Advocacy, 1925-1950 , Macquarie University

Award Date: 6 Jun 2000

Economics, Bachelor of Economics (Hons), Macquarie University

Award Date: 11 Nov 1990


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