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Orvis A. Schmidt was an economist who specialized in South American economics, with an emphasis on Brazil. He received his M.A. degree from the Department of Sociology and Economics of Tufts College in 1935 with a thesis titled The examination of the international trade of Brazil, 1926-1934, with special reference to forces operating during boom and depression. He then enrolled as a Ph.D. candidate in economics at the University of Chicago with a proposed thesis on the history of Brazilian monetary policy, working under Jacob Viner. Despite a nearly completed draft, he did not finish the dissertation.
In 1936 the United States Department of the Treasury hired Schmidt, and he was stationed in Brazil during 1937-1938. He then returned to the US and worked in the Treasury's international financial field, including six months as the acting director of the Division of Monetary Research, which became the Office of International Finance. According to an oral history interview with Schmidt, he attended some ofthe early inter-American financial conferences, particularly the First Meeting of the Ministers of Finance of the American Republics. During the Second World War he worked on foreign funds control and attended the Bretton Woods conference as the secretary to Commission III.
Schmidt joined the World Bank in November of 1947, shortly after John J. McCloy became President. He initially served in the Loan Department as chief of its western European subdivision and then as the assistant to the loan director. In 1951 he became Assistant Director of the Western Hemisphere Department and in 1956 he became its Director. Described by William Bennett as one of the ablest people the Bank had, Schmidt became Special Adviser to the President in 1964. He died in November 1967 at the age of 55.