When Stockton speaks, Bernanke listens

When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke speaks about economic issues, the nation listens. But who does Bernanke listen to?

One person on the short list is David J. Stockton ’76 B.A., ’76 M.A., who speaks almost daily with Bernanke in his role as chief economist for the Fed, the agency that directs the nation’s central bank, establishes national monetary policy and monitors the country’s economic health.

As director of the Federal Reserve’s Division of Research and Statistics, Stockton oversees one of the world’s largest economic research teams – approximately 290 economists, financial analysts, computer scientists, research assistants and other personnel. Stockton and his staff sort through and interpret information streaming from the country’s financial markets each day. One of Stockton’s primary responsibilities is presenting periodic economic forecasts to the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) on job losses, housing wealth and business spending. These reports help to determine how much you pay in interest on your credit card and how much banks may charge you for taking out home or auto loans.

Read more in the UConn Alumni Magazine.

UConn Ph.D. Serves as World Bank’s Lead Economist in Russia

Zeljko Bogetic, one of Professor Dennis Heffley’s former Ph.D. students, currently is serving as Lead Economist and Country Sector Coordinator for Russia in the Europe and Central Asia Region of the World Bank. A native of Montegro, Zeljko completed his dissertation (A Computable General Equilibrium Model of the Yugoslav Economy) in 1990. Soon thereafter, he entered the World Bank’s prestigious Young Professionals Program.

Zeljko has held a number of positions during his 20-year career at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Prior to his present assignment in Moscow, he served as a lead economist in the Africa Region of the World Bank, with primary responsibilities for Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, and before that he served as lead economist for South Africa and the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) cluster leader for Southern Africa Customs Union countries at the World Bank. Zeljko’s command of five languages—Serbo-Croatian, English, French, Russian, and Spanish—has clearly been put to good use over the years.

In addition to his administrative duties, Zeljko has published books, scholarly articles, and papers on a variety of subjects: public finance reforms in transition economies; tax and expenditure policies; fiscal federalism; macroeconomic stabilization; dollarization and currency boards; infrastructure, productivity, and growth; and benchmarking of infrastructure performance. In addition to co-editing one the World Bank’s early volumes on transition economies (Financing Government in the Transition, 1995), he has published articles in the Journal of Comparative Economics, Challenge, the Cato Journal, World Development, Central Banking, Contemporary Economic Policy, South African Journal of Economics, Finance & Development, and Journal of Development Perspectives, as well as a number of papers in the World Bank’s Research Working Paper Series. Zeljko also leads a team of researchers that produce the World Bank’s Russian Economic Report, a prime source of information on recent macroeconomic conditions and policy developments in Russia.

Alumnus Profile: Donald Vandegrift

Economics, like most disciplines, has become highly specialized, so it is not surprising that many economists focus their research on a narrow range of topics or issues. Not so for one of our Ph.D. alumni, Donald Vandegrift (IDEAS).

Don completed his doctorate in 1993 under the tutelage of Prof. Richard Langlois. Apparently Dick’s interest in a wide range of topics in the field of industrial organization rubbed off on Don, who currently serves as Chair of the Department of Economics in the School of Business at The College of New Jersey.

Over the years, Don has published papers on performance excuse under contracts (European Journal of Law and Economics, 1997), asset specificity (Eastern Economic Journal, 1998), energy use (Journal of Energy and Development, 1999), product warranty (Contemporary Economic Policy, 2001), risky strategies in “tournament competition” (Labour Economics, 2003), obesity rates (Health & Place, 2004), gender differences in competitive strategies (Journal of Socio-Economics, 2005), prescription drug spending (Southern Economic Journal, 2006), incentive effects in experimental settings (Experimental Economics, 2007), and hedge fund performance (Journal of Derivatives and Hedge Funds, 2009).

Don’s forthcoming work continues to reflect his exceptional versatility. A paper on hedge fund performance will soon appear in the Journal of Derivatives and Hedge Funds; his experimental analysis of differences in competitive behavior between men and women is slated for publication by the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization; a study of sabotage in tournaments has been accepted by the Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics; and the Annals of Regional Science will publish a paper on linkages between open space, house prices, and the local property tax base.

It is great to see our former students enjoying their work and sharing it with others. Don spoke at our on-campus 2008 Economics Reunion and Forum, and we are hoping that he will be back in Storrs next spring, when we repeat this successful event. Don and other former grad students presented research papers, participated in job-experience panels, met our current students and newer faculty, and reconnected with old friends and fellow alums. We will be posting plans for the next event, but it is clear that even in his current administrative role as Department Chair, Don has continued his lively line(s) of research and will have little problem coming up with a new paper for the 2010 reunion.

Former MA and PhD Students: Hold These Dates

In late March 2008, the Department hosted a Graduate Reunion and Forum at the Bishop Center. At the one-day reunion, some of our former PhD students presented their recent research, while others employed in the private sector or by government described their work in professional experience panels. That evening, we also held the Department’s annual awards banquet. We are planning to host a similar event on Friday, April 2, 2010.

Also, the day before the reunion (April 1), we will be holding the “Philip E. Austin Forum on Economics and Public Policy.” Professor Segerson is organizing this event, and funding it using part of the endowment funds for the Austin Chair. The speaker for the forum will be Harvard University environmental economist Robert Stavins. He will speak on climate change in a Post-Kyoto era. President Emeritus Austin, Provost Nicholls, and Dean Teitelbaum are all planning to attend this event.

We will have more details about both events, but for now we hope you will keep the two dates open and plan to attend. See you in April!

MA alumnus applies his training in the insurance industry

After leaving UConn with his MA in 2005, Steve Sugrue worked for Circuit City in Richmond, VA designing large-scale inventory demand forecasting systems and later moved to online/digital marketing. Since the company folded, he has been working for State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, IL as a Research Statistician, a PhD-level position. He does a lot of time series modeling related to banking deposit instruments and also some panel data modeling related to Internet consumers. He just started some work related to game-theoretic approaches to optimal financial product mixes over the customer life cycle.

The job is a mixture of economics and statistics. Steve does literature reviews to see how certain problems or classes of problems have been approached academically and he tries to adapt that to local needs. His group is more unconventional, in that it is bit of a think-tank in that it is called out to consult on the more esoteric issues that are not as clear-cut with respect to methodology choice and analytic flow. He states that his group’s job is to bring their bubble gum and duct tape expert opinions and experience and solve the problems. In this respect, the flexibility of the training of an economist, along with a few statistics classes have helped him a lot.

Economics alum combines academic research and public service

After completing his Ph.D. in 1991 under the supervision of Prof. Francis Ahking (IDEAS), Kenneth Daniels (IDEAS) joined the Department of Finance at Virginia Commonwealth University. A specialist in financial services and community development, Ken has published his research in the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, The Journal of Corporate Finance, The Financial Review, and a rich variety of other professional journals. His most recent contribution is a co-authored paper titled “An Empirical Analysis of the Determinants and Pricing of Corporate Bond Clawbacks” in the Journal of Corporate Finance. For his earlier work on derivatives, he received the Sydney Futures Exchange Prize; the Eastern Finance Association offered similar recognition for a paper on investments.

Throughout his career, Ken has combined his academic research with various forms of public service. He serves as a Board Member of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Treasury Board, a group that oversees the state’s public banking deposits and debt and manages several state investment portfolios. He also is a Board Member of the Virginia Community Development Corporation and the Virginia Community Capital Corporation, the only non-profit bank holding corporation in the U.S.

Two MA, PhD alumni publish new edition of popular textbook

A new edition of a popular health economics textbook, “Health Economics: Theory, Insights, and Industry Studies,” written by two of the Department’s former Ph.D. Students, Rexford Santerre (PhD, 1983) and Stephen Neun (PhD, 1988), will be published this June by South-Western/Cengage Learning.

Formerly a Professor of Economics at Bentley College, Rex Santerre (IDEAS) is now a Professor of Finance and Healthcare Management in the UConn School of Business. He has published extensively in the fields of health economics, local public finance, and industrial organization.

Steve Neun is currently the Academic Dean at Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts. Prior to that he served as Professor Economics, Assistant VP for Academic Affairs, and Dean of the School of Graduate and Extended Studies at Utica College in upstate New York.

MA Alumnus appointed CFO of prominent Chinese biotechnology firm

From PRNewswire:

3SBio Inc. (NASDAQ:SSRX), a leading biotechnology company focused on researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing biopharmaceutical products primarily in China, today announced that it has appointed Mr. Bo Tan as Chief Financial Officer, effective February 1, 2009. Since joining 3SBio in October 2008, Mr. Tan has been acting as the financial advisor for the company, providing advice on the company’s capital market initiatives and overseeing the company’s treasury functions.

Dr. Jing Lou, Chief Executive Officer of 3SBio, commented, “I am delighted to name Bo as our CFO, given both his recent contributions to 3SBio as financial advisor and the broad wealth of experience he brings, as reflected by his previous roles in the financial services industry and pharmaceutical industry. I strongly believe that his skills and experience will further benefit our company during an important time of our development.”

Mr. Tan, 36, has extensive experience within the financial and pharmaceutical industries, having worked across private equity, equity research and commercial practice. Previously, he has served as the Executive Director and a member of Investment Committee for Bohai Industrial Fund Management Company, a private equity fund in China. Earlier in his career, he spent six years in the pharmaceutical industry with Eli Lilly & Company and EMD Pharmaceuticals, Inc in North America and went on to serve as a China healthcare and consumer analyst at Lehman Brothers Asia and Macquarie Securities in Hong Kong.

Mr. Tan received his MBA degree from Thunderbird School of International Management, an MA degree in economics from the University of Connecticut and a BA degree in economics from Renmin University of China. Mr. Tan is also a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst).

MA, PhD alumna featured in UConn Alumni magazine

Excerpts from a feature in the latest UConn Magazine:

In the more than a dozen years since she returned to Taiwan from Storrs, Lih-Chyi Wen ’93 M.A., ’96 Ph.D. has established a career as an environmental economist who continues to break new ground in one of the world’s emerging regions.

Wen, deputy director and research fellow in the International Division of the Energy and Environmental Research Center at the Taiwan World Trade Organization, is playing a crucial role in proposing new economic and environmental policies to aid her country.

Lih-Chyi has combined her economics training and her passion for environmental issues and used them to understand and improve environmental management in her home country of Taiwan, which faces numerous environmental challenges as its economy grows,” says Kathleen Segerson, Philip E. Austin Professor of Economics, who served as Wen’s advisor at UConn.

The respect is mutual. Wen says the key to her success at Storrs was the support she received from the faculty, particularly Segerson.

“She not only has a brilliant, analytical mind and great originality, which is evidenced throughout her teaching and research work, but she also takes care of graduate students as if they were her own kids,” Wen says.

The author of two books and dozens of commissioned articles on environmental policy as well as economic policy, Wen was named one of 2008’s Rising Stars in Taipei by the Central News Agency, selected by a 10-member panel of university presidents.

Read more here.

Maintain a ‘can-do’ attitude, speaker (MA Econ) tells winter graduates

Approach life with a positive attitude, protect your health, and be personally accountable. That’s the advice businessman and philanthropist Denis McCarthy gave to students at UConn’s winter commencement exercises in Gampel Pavilion on Dec. 14.

About 800 students – including more than half who earned their degrees from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences – were joined by friends and family members for the ceremony.

Having a positive attitude in life helps build self-confidence, McCarthy told the crowd. “Certainly you have to be realistic depending on the subject or circumstance, but having that ‘can do’ attitude will help you be enthusiastic and passionate about what you do professionally,” he said. “Those are two excellent leadership skills.”

McCarthy is the retired chairman, CEO, and president of Fidelity Management Trust Co., a subsidiary of Fidelity Investments, one of the world’s leading providers of financial services. During the ceremony, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

McCarthy earned a bachelor’s degree in finance at UConn in 1964, and a master’s degree in economics in 1965. He is co-chair of UConn’s capital campaign and a member of the UConn Foundation board of directors, which he chaired from 2000-2004.

Read more at UConn Advance