Economist and Assistant to the President Peter Navarro has admitted to quoting a fictional character he made up and named after an anagram of his last name, The Chronicle Review reports. Tessa Morris-Suzuki, emeritus professor at the Australian National University, was reportedly working on an essay involving Navarro's books when she noticed an oft-quoted man named Ron Vara—a rich military veteran and Harvard-trained economist who studied utilities regulation. None of Morris-Suzuki's Harvard contacts had any record of a Ron Vara, but Ron Vara's name suspiciously shared letters with Navarro's last name. Both Vara and Navarro also reportedly studied utilities regulation in their real and fictional bouts in higher education.
In a statement, Navarro fessed up to Vara being fictional and called the character a “whimsical device and pen name I’ve used throughout the years for opinions and purely entertainment value, not as a source of fact.” He also likened his use of Vara in his own works to director “Alfred Hitchcock appearing briefly in cameo in his movies,” and said it was an “inside joke that has been hiding in plain sight for years.” One of Navarro's co-authors, Columbia professor Glenn Hubbard, said he did not know Vara was a fictional individual and said he was not okay with Vara being in the book that he and Navarro wrote.