Maxim was born in Leningrad/St. Petersburg, Russia, where he lived until he was seven, when his family, stimulated by the rise of overt anti-Semitism, moved to Brooklyn - they are now naturalized US citizens.
Maxim is an economics-math major. Beginning in his sophomore year, he began taking graduate level courses, and by his junior year was taking almost exclusively doctoral level courses in economics and statistics. During his time at Columbia, he has won several prestigious essay contests, including prizes for the best annual papers in Lit Hum and Contemporary Civilization. Maxim even did an internship at the New York Federal Reserve.