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Where can I find your finance books?
Las nuevas finanzas en México (Editorial Milenio, ITAM, IMEF, 1992) and Las finanzas populares en México (Editorial Milenio, ITAM, CEMLA, 1995) are both still in print and from time to time, can be found in Mexican bookstores, including Sanborns and Ghandhi. Las finanzas populares en Mexico is also available in the bookstore at the MIDE museum in Mexico City's Colonia Centro. If you're really in a pickle, you can find used copies of both my books on-line at amazon.com and abebooks.com.
Are they be available as e-books?
They will both be available as e-books soon. Please revisit this page for updates (and be sure to click on "refresh.")
Do you plan to update your finance books?
Alas, my commitments to other writing projects make that impossible. But I do plan to offer some comments about Las finanzas populares en México on this website, in particular, about how the digital revolution has helped promote both a massive expansion and some very unfortunate social and institutional problems in lending to low-income individuals.
Why do you use different names, Catherine Mansell, Catherine Mansell Carstens, and also C.M. Mayo?
This is probably more than you want to know, but here goes:
Catherine Mansell is my maiden name, and Catherine Mansell Carstens is my married name. My husband is the Mexican economist Agustín Carstens.When I began publishing as an economist in the 1980s, I used my maiden name together with my married name, as is common practice in the U.S. This led to some confusion, however, because in Mexico, it is customary to add the "de" before one's married name; in addition, it is also customary to add one's maternal name after the paternal name, so on my Mexican documents my legal name appears as Catherine Mansell Mayo de Carstens, while in the U.S. it remains as Catherine Mansell.
In the 1990s, I began publishing literary fiction and poetry as C.M. Mayo, using my mother's maiden name. Why the pen name? I wanted the freedom of (then) anonymity to try something completely different. Needless to say, people who knew my work as an economist were bamboozled. Whatever.
I also sometimes comment on blog posts with names made up on a whim. And I blog as Madam Mayo because one day the poet E. Ethelbert Miller addressed me in an e-mail as "Madam Mayo," which I thought was hysterical. Now I receive e-mail from strange people from foreign countries addressed to "Madam." Never a dull moment.
Do you still work or write as an economist?
No, I have not worked as an economist in some years, though of course, my background as an economist informs the way I think about the world. (See in particular Miraculous Air.) I set aside my career as an economist in part to avoid any conflict of interest with my husband, who has held some important public sector positions over the years, but also, and more importantly, I relish writing in a more literary vein and across a far broader range of genres and subjects.
You came out of the University of Chicago, so you're all gung ho for free markets and capitalism, right?
The University of Chicago got this reputation in large part because of Milton Friedman's columns for Newsweek and best-selling books, back in the 1970s and 1980s. Milton Friedman, God rest his soul, had left Chicago for Stanford by the time I showed up, and anyway, last I checked, the faculty of the economics department, which has included many Nobel Prize winners over the years, is an ever-changing group of extremely intelligent, highly competitive, and curious academics. If I had to make one more gross generalization about them, it would be that they're mostly middle aged men who don't get enough sun. Although one them, famously, had a sex change operation. I say this with affection, and especially for Donald a.k.a Deirdre McCloskey, whose work has been a very important influence for me. In addition to a masters degree in economics, I earned my undergraduate degree in the college, which has a strong liberal arts tradition, so for me, the University of Chicago was most of all preparation for a life of the mind. It is a university with a strong interdisciplinary tradition, and has outstanding faculty in areas as diverse as astrophysics and Far Eastern Studies and I was fortunate to be able to take year-long courses on, in fact, astrophysics, and Asian Consciousness. As for the economics department, those of us who have actually earned a degree there find some of the portrayals in the media and the mosh pits of blogdom, well, pretty silly.
So what's my take on capitalism? It depends on what you mean by the word. And I am not even convinced it's particularly useful word at this stage in human history, when it has accumulated so many layers of cement-like connotations, both good and bad.
My underlying philosphy is: with all due respect for the rights of others, freedom is a very good thing.
As for economic policymaking, the two most important things I took from my years studying economics in Chicago are that first, human beings tend to respond to incentives in certain ways, and second, if you don't take that into account, you may as well go battle the winds and the tides.
Oh, and a third: inflation is, in fact, a tax and, alas, a very pernicious one because it tends to hit the poor the hardest.
I believe the best economic policymaking, however you want to label it, is based on refined common sense.
How did you make the transition from economist to literary writer?
It wasn't all that difficult because first, my liberal arts education gave me confidence (I spent as much time reading Hemingway, Joyce, and Tolstoy et al, as I did with my economics textbooks), and second, anyway, economics is all about storytelling (and if you think it's not, read McCloskey's delightful work on the rhetoric of economics, If You're So Smart How Come You're Not Rich?).
What are you writing now / your current interests?
As C.M. Mayo I recently published Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Seceret Book, Spiritist Manual, which includes my translation, the first, of the 1911 Spiritist Manual. Madero was the leader of 1910 Revolution and President of Mexico from 1911 until his death in the coup d'etat of 1913. Read all about it at the book's website here.
At present I am at work on a travel memoir of Far West Texas, and apropos of that, I host podcast series "Marfa Mondays." Listen in to those podcasts anytime here.
You can read all about my work as C.M. Mayo at www.cmmayo.com
Do you have any advice for economists, lawyers, and others who want to write a novel?
Yes, and you are most welcome to read all of it on my Resources for Writers page.