Author: mam15102

UConn-Stamford Team Participates in College Fed Challenge 2019

This year, the UConn-Stamford team participated again in the College Fed Challenge competition of the second district of the Federal Reserve System. Thirty teams competed on October 23 at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This program is designed to bring real-world economics into the classroom. Teams play the role of monetary policymakers by analyzing economic conditions and recommending a course for monetary policy.

The UConn–Stamford team this year consisted of the following eight students.

Ignacio Gonzalez is a junior pursuing his Economics degree at UCONN-Stamford. This is his second year on the College Fed Challenge team. Through the program he has enhanced his understanding of economic indicators and how they interconnect in signaling the current state of the economy. This past summer he interned for the Treasury department at DZ Bank AG. He was able to use the experience gained in the Fed Challenge program as a base for assets and liabilities management as well as for bond pricing.

Viviana Castillo is currently a senior majoring in Economics. In addition to her studies, she works for People’s United Bank as a relationship administrator in their Commercial Real Estate department. Through her job, she has gained knowledge in the real estate lending market in the U.S. and how rates are affected by the current economic conditions. As part of the Women In Leadership program through her job she has been matched with a mentor who is the Chief Risk Officer of the company. With him, she has been able to gain knowledge of the different risk components of the bank. All of this being done while analyzing the risk appetite of the company regarding the current economic conditions and predictions for the future. After graduation, she is hoping to further her career by getting a master’s degree in the risk management field, preferably with a concentration in enterprise risk.

Alexander Giannico is a senior majoring in Economics. He is participating in the 2019 FED Challenge team in order to improve his understanding of macroeconomics, specifically labor economics and unemployment. He is helping run the Chess Club on campus as well as participating in the Debate Club.

George Angel Gonzalez is a senior majoring in Economics. As he will be graduating in the Spring of 2020, he is currently applying to graduate schools to further his education in Economics/Finance. He joined the team last spring after hearing a couple of his classmates discussing the competition in class; and, since, it has been one of the most academically enriching experiences of his undergraduate career. The Fed challenge has brought the lessons learned in class into the real-world application, as well as enhanced the understanding of the innerworkings of the American economy. Comprehending how the Federal Reserve operates and its hand in the economy are lessons that he will take beyond his undergraduate education- whether it be to graduate school or the work force.

Isaiah Montanez is a senior Economics student with a minor in Business Management. He is currently working as a business analyst for a small consulting firm. He chose economics because of the effect that the 2008 recession had on his family’s business. He wanted to better understand how the economy affects people. Now, he assists small businesses on recognizing economic trends to make good decisions and capitalize on them. The Fed Challenge has been the backbone of his studies allowing him to see real world applicability of his degree and has led him into the position he is in today.

You Kim is a junior majoring in Financial Management with a minor Economics. He is currently interning as a business development analyst at RIS Media, a real estate publishing company. Prior to this he interned at IBM as a financial analyst. He is passionate about learning and understanding what is going on with the world and the economy. This competition has taught him a tremendous amount about how to analyze different indicators to measure the overall health of the economy.

At UConn Stamford, students can participate in this program as early as their freshman year. The main criterion is one’s interest in economics, passion for research, and willingness to work in a team. This year, we had two first-year students supporting the team through research, collaboration, and constructive criticism.

Sisi Huang is a first-year student. She is studying within the School of Business and is currently a Digital Marketing and Analytics major and is an active member of the BCLC. Other clubs she is participating in are the Marketing Club and Huskies for Charity. Sisi enjoys the arts as well as sciences other than business. She participated in the FED Challenge team as a researcher this year with hopes to join the presenters’ ranks next year.

Francesca Merentie is another first-year student studying within the School of Business, majoring in Digital Marketing & Analytics. She shadowed the UConn–Stamford FED Challenge team and aided them in their research and presentation preparation. She plans on fully joining the team and compete in the Fall 2020 competition. She plans on using her degree in Digital Marketing & Analytics in being either a market research analyst, a marketing manager, or public relations specialist.

The whole team worked very hard preparing for the competition and developed and defended unconventional approaches to monetary policy implementation. The main learning outcome for students is the development of economic analysis, critical thinking and debate, and oral presentation skills. All of these are highly transferable to their future careers and academic endeavors.

This year, we did not advance to the semi-final round. However, the overall experience of visiting the New York Fed, listening to the presentation of John C. Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and competing with 30 teams was an amazing experience for students. Good job, UConn–Stamford Team!

Membes of the 2019 NY Fed Challenge Team

Photo: from left to right: Isaiah Montanez, Viviana Castillo, Dr. Smirnova, Angel Gonzalez, Ignacio Gonzalez, Alexander Giannico, and You Kim.

Professor Prakash publishes in Feminist Economics

Nishith Prakash and co-author Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati are publishing their article “Girls for Sale? Child Sex Ratio and Girl Trafficking in India” in Feminist Economics, the journal of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE)

From the abstract:

Illegal trafficking of girls results from their disadvantageous position in society, often reflected by preference for sons and neglect of daughters. India has both higher levels of illegal trafficking of girls and abnormal child sex ratios in favor of boys. This paper examines if the skewed sex ratio in India is associated with trafficking of girls. Using panel data from twenty-nine Indian states from 1980 to 2011, the study finds that a 100-unit increase in the child sex ratio is associated with a 0.635 percent increase in girl trafficking. Further, the association is heterogeneous by women’s empowerment, crime against women, and party rule in the state, and the association between the child sex ratio and trafficking of girls is stronger and larger in magnitude in states with greater women’s empowerment. Overall, it appears the results are driven both by greater reporting and a greater incidence of illegal girl trafficking.

https://doi.org/10.1080/13545701.2019.1666212

Deepak Saraswat presents at NEUDC

PhD student Deepak Saraswat presented his paper “Gender Composition of Children and Sanitation Behavior in India” at the North East Universities Development Consortium (NEUDC) Conference.

Hosted this year by the Global Poverty Research Lab at Northwestern University, the conference is considered one of the best in Development.

Information about the conference may be found online at: https://sites.northwestern.edu/neudc2019/

Former PhD student accepts Professorship

Anupam Nanda has accepted a Professorship at the University of Manchester, UK.  He will start in November this year.

Anupam completed his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Connecticut in 2006. Anupam has been at the University of Reading and has developed a significant scholarly reputation for his research in real estate markets. Professor Stephen Ross was his major advisor.

Stamford “Money and Banking” Class Visits the Gold Vault

On Thursday, October 3, 2019, a group of students from Dr. Smirnova’s “Money and Banking” class at Stamford visited the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The program included a visit to the Money Museum as well as to the Gold Vault.

In the Museum, students learned about the history of New York Fed, and saw old-time photographs and film footage of how the Fed looked and operated during the first half of the 20th century. The exhibit also includes the original trading board, the money cart that is used to transport currency, and the scale that is used to weigh the gold bars.

The highlight of the trip was the visit to the Gold Vault. Students learned that New York Fed holds many tons of gold bricks belonging to foreign countries. The vault is located on the bedrock of Manhattan, several hundred feet below subway level. The size of the vault is half of the American football field, and it goes on forever if you are standing at the entrance. We were able to see one compartment’s gold very close and almost touch it. The gold bricks are different shapes (trapezoid and rectangle) depending on where the brick was cast.

There was an opportunity to ask questions and discover more nuances about the Fed, about monetary policy implementation, and about the gold. Overall, a lot of learning and discovery occurred during the trip. We thank the Department of Economics for sponsoring it! The picture shows the group in front of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Taking pictures inside is prohibited, so we could not take a picture with the gold! 😊

Research by Eric Brunner, Shaun Dougherty and Steve Ross on Career and Technical Education

Research by Eric Brunner, Shaun Dougherty and Steve Ross on Career and Technical Education in Connecticut has been featured recently by both the Brookings-Brown Center and in The Conversation.

As described in an article for UConn Today:

Career and Technical H.S. Grads Have More Initial Earning Power, Study Says

Males who graduate from career and technical high schools in Connecticut earn more than their peers in the years immediately following graduation, according to a new study by the University of Connecticut.

Through age 23, the career and technical high school graduates earned 31% more than students who graduated from traditional high schools, according to the team from UConn’s departments of public policy, economics, and education.

The past decade has witnessed a resurgence in interest in career and technical education as an alternative pathway for high school students, the authors write in their study, published in the Annenberg Institute’s education working paper series.

“Career and technical education has been an important strategy for improving the economic opportunities of students who might not pursue a traditional four-year college degree,” says author Eric Brunner, UConn professor of economics and policy. “This is especially important given the declining opportunities for non-college educated workers.”

Even as the job market evolves, researchers found positive results for both the educational and labor market outcomes for students at the 16 technical high schools in Connecticut, where 7% of the state’s students enroll.

The team examined data on approximately 57,000 eighth-graders from 2006-2013, through age 23.

They found that male students who went to career and technical high school in Connecticut were about 10% more likely to graduate high school, with the improved labor market outcomes being accompanied by a roughly 8% dip in their likelihood to attend college.

Being disadvantaged, being eligible for free-lunch programs, and more likely to have lower scores on standardized tests did not lower the effectiveness of the career and technical high schools, Brunner says.

However, the findings were limited to males. There were not any noticeable effects in attending a career technical school, either positive or negative, for females, says Stephen Ross, co-author and UConn professor of economics.

“One of our next goals is to look closer at females in these settings and hopefully come up with some answers,” says Ross.

Additionally, in December of 2019, the researchers are slated to receive data on the eighth-graders through the age of 26, providing a fuller picture of the effects.

The study comes as the government continues to invest in this area of education. In 2018, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act was reauthorized, providing $1.2 billion in funding for these programs and job training for students.

Can this study be applied to other states? Possibly, says Ross. While the data clearly shows the positive effect of career technical schools, it’s important to take into account the format of Connecticut.

“For most states, career technical high schools are all over but in Connecticut they really have it as a whole model with one umbrella, one superintendent and its own district,” Ross says.

Further, the degree of career and technical education offered by a traditional high school may impact the findings.

“If your [traditional high] school had a lot of career technical education then getting into the system wasn’t as important,” says Brunner. But if the traditional high school did not, “you got a bigger payoff for going to a career technical high school.”

Professor Prakash to be Published in the Journal of Development Economics

Professor Nishith Prakash’s paper “Do criminally accused politicians affect economic outcomes? Evidence from India” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Development Economics

Abstract

We study the causal impact of electing criminally accused politicians to state legislative assemblies in India on the subsequent economic performance of their constituencies. Using data on the criminal background of candidates running in state assembly elections for the period 2004–2008 and a constituency-level measure of economic activity proxied by the intensity of night-time lights, we employ a regression discontinuity design and find that narrowly electing a criminally accused politician lowers the growth of the intensity of night-time lights by about 24 percentage points (approximately 2.4 percentage point lower GDP growth). The negative impact is more pronounced for legislators who are accused of serious or financial charges, have multiple accusations, are from a non-ruling party, have less than a college education, or have below median wealth. Overall, we find that the effect appears to be concentrated in the less developed and the more corrupt states. Similar findings emerge for the provision of public goods using data on India’s major rural roads construction program.

“Earlier politicians used criminals. Now the criminals themselves have entered politics” – (Associated Press, 2014).

Undergraduate, Mateen Karimi, Publishes Research

Mateen Karimi, a rising junior majoring in management, published his paper, “The Socioeconomic Integration of Second-Generation MENA Immigrants,” in the journal, Aisthesis, this past June. Each year, the journal publishes a compilation of scholarship completed by students in honors programs nationwide.

Supervised by Professor Furtado, Mateen conducted the analysis for the paper last summer as part of his Holster project.

The article shows that the native-born children of Middle Eastern North African (MENA) immigrants in the United States acquire more education and achieve higher salary incomes than both non-MENA whites and blacks, but falter on employment outcomes as a whole. Interestingly, second-generation Iranians and Yemenis acquire more education than both whites and blacks, but also have the highest unemployment rates.

Professors Harmon, Smirnova, and PhD Candidate Conant participate at Conference on Teaching and Research in Economic Education

Professors Harmon, Smirnova, and PhD Candidate Conant participated in the Ninth Annual AEA Conference on Teaching and Research in Economic Education (CTREE), in St. Louis, Missouri, May 2019.

Professors Oskar Harmon and Natalia Smirnova organized and moderated the panel “The College Fed Challenge: Discussion of Participating in an Existing Competition or Organizing a Competition in your Federal Reserve District”. The panelists were the faculty organizers of the regional Fed Challenge competitions in 4 of the 5 Fed Districts that sponsor a Fed Challenge competition, and the organizer of the finals round at the Fed Board of Governors in Washington DC. The discussion focused on two themes. One was a comparison of the similarities and differences in the structure of the competitions across regions and the effect on team outcomes in the national finals. Second was strategies to the geographic challenges and the difficulties facing the non-eastern states 8 reserve districts, only one of which competes (Chicago) relative to the 4 east coast districts, all of which compete.

Paul Conant and Oskar Harmon presented their paper “Teaching of Sports Economics by Reacting to the Past”. They presented a real-world scenario (RWS) assignment that is an adaptation of the “reacting to the past” teaching style. In this style students learn by taking on roles, informed by articles from the period of the event. They participate in a competitive game using the communication skills of speaking and writing, and analytical skills of critical thinking and problem solving. The specific RWS discussed in this paper will consist of students answering the historical event question: Should college athletes be allowed to unionize? The Case of Northwestern 2014. Students are assigned roles which can force them to combat their preconceived notion about the issue and help students consider different perspectives on the issue. We hope to merge the sociopolitical world with neoclassical economic learning in order to help students understand the nuance of pertinent world issues.

Natalia Smirnova also assumed an active role at the conference. She was a discussant of two papers. One paper presented the use of Excel for teaching students a Health Economics addiction model; and the second paper analyzed the reasons for female students’ attrition from the first Economics course they took and not becoming Economics majors at UC Berkley. Both papers were well received and generated debates among sessions’ participants.

Professor Smirnova extended her stay in St. Louis to explore Team-Based Learning (TBL) techniques. The TBL workshop was sponsored by the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) initiative. Professor Smirnova is encouraged to bring new techniques into her classroom.