He received a degree in finance in 1956 at Karl Marx University of Economics, and also studied Spanish and History at Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Humanities. In 1967 he spent a year at Harvard University as a Ford Scholar. Between 1965 and 1988, he worked at the Center for Afro-Asian Research of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences that later became the Institute for World Economics.
He was the Minister of International Economic Relations in the Antall-Boross government (1991-1994). Between 1994 and 1998, he acted as the head of the Budget Committee of the Hungarian Parliament, then as Ambassador of Hungary to the OECD, Paris (1999-2003). He was the member of the Monetary Council of Magyar Nemzeti Bank between 1999 and 2008. In 1990 he became the vice president, in 2002 the president, and in 2008 the honorary president of the Hungarian Economic Association.
As for his academic achievements, he received the title "Doctor Honoris Causa" in 1993 from the National University of San Marcos, Lima. In 2001 he became a corresponding member and since 2007 he has been a full member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Since 1999 he has also been Honorary Professor at Corvinus University.
His academic career demonstrates his outstanding intellectual capacity both in teaching and research: he has given lectures at eighty universities and research institutions all over the world, and he has published eight books, two of them in English, and more than four hundred essays and articles. His field of research is comparative economics, the problem of overdue modernization, the processes and direction of economic growth, and the tendencies of international economic cooperation.