Obituary: Sven W. Arndt

Leading economist, Claremont McKenna College professor

Sven W. Arndt, a Claremont McKenna economist who spent his lengthy career guiding students and professional colleagues through the complexities of global trade and finance, has died. He was 81.

Mr. Arndt, who kept an office on campus and intended to pursue his research even after retiring last year, died Wednesday, March 21 at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center.  The cause of his death was heart failure, his wife Linda Arndt said.

“He had such incredible energy and stick-to-it-ive-ness.” she said.  “If he were healthy, he’d still be attending conferences and interacting with students.”

Mr. Arndt, the Charles M. Stone Professor for Money, Credit and Trade, and former director of the college’s Lowe Institute of Political Economy, joined CMC’s faculty in 1991. Previously he taught for 20 years at UC Santa Cruz as well as holding visiting appointments at universities in Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, and elsewhere.

He authored and edited several books, including most recently, “Evolving Patterns in Global Trade and Finance.”  He published articles in a variety of professional journals including the American Economic Review and Econometrica.

“Sven was a giant in his field, in the preparation of our students, and in the vibrant life of our community,” CMC President Hiram Chodosh observed.  “We will dearly miss him and remember him.”

In the 1970s, while working at the US Treasury Department in Washington DC, he met Tom Willett, who became a close friend as well as a prominent economics professor at Claremont McKenna.

Mr. Willett said his friend, known both for the rigor of his economic thinking and the dry humor he could unleash in an instant, was always in demand.  “He was incredibly well-known and very few people got invited to as many conferences around the world as Mr. Arndt did.”

At CMC, Mr. Arndt succeeded Mr. Willett as the Lowe Institute’s director in 1992.  He was known for helping undergraduates develop research projects on the kind of real-world problems in international economics that they might face in their careers.

It was an ambitious undertaking, Mr. Willett said, noting that the undergraduates had to be productive while lacking the advanced tools of a PhD.

For Joe Matt, CMC class of 1999, Mr. Arndt’s guidance was invaluable.  Mr. Matt, now a vice president at Capital Research Global Investors in Los Angeles, said his former teacher inspired him to pursue international economics.  Now a board member of the Lowe Institute, Mr. Matt recalls that he cherished his mentor’s humor.

“He had a stern face, he was serious about his work, and he expected others to be serious about theirs,” Mr. Matt said. “But he’d start joking and he’d be laughing at the top of his lungs, and he was incredibly funny. It was like a sneak attack—you never expected it!”

In addition to being an ardent traveler, Mr. Arndt savored wine and opera. He and his wife made a yearly pilgrimage to the Metropolitan Opera in New York as well as taking in the LA Opera’s performances closer to home. He also loved to entertain, preparing gravlax, the Scandinavian marinated fish dish, for friends and family every Christmas. Best of all, and within the community, he cheered for his grandchildren—soccer games at La Puerta, basketball games at CHS, and taiko and dance recitals at Village Dance Arts.

Born October 18, 1936, Mr. Arndt grew up in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Western Ontario.  He received his doctorate from UC Berkeley in 1964.

In addition to his wife of 54 years, his survivors include their daughter Nicole Ouellette (Mark); three grandchildren, William, Paige and Justine of Claremont; his sister Christine Eastwood; brothers Wilfred (Doris) and George (Caroline) of Ontario, Canada; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A private service will be held. Memorial contributions in Sven Arndt’s name may be made to Claremont Educational Foundation ( or Claremont McKenna College (


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