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.

Fall Issue of The Connecticut Economy Tackles Some Timely Topics

Prospects of an end to the recession have raised hopes but also important questions about the state’s economy. The latest issue of The Connecticut Economy: A University of Connecticut Quarterly Review was unveiled at the UConn Stamford Campus on September 11th at the Fairfield County Economic Summit and Outlook, sponsored by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA).

Featured articles include Bruce and Robert Blakey’s assessment of the potential statewide impacts of employment cuts in Fairfield County’s financial services sector. With Fairfield County accounting for 38% of Connecticut’s personal income and nearly 47% of the state’s income tax revenue, any significant “downsizing” of this critical sector also spells trouble for the rest of the state. Fortunately, Fairfield County has demonstrated its economic resilience in past recessions and seems determined to “reinvent” itself, as described in A Forward Look by Mike Freimuth, Stamford’s Director of Economic Development.

Concerns about traffic congestion in urbanized areas and the push for a “greener” Connecticut have prompted proposals to extend the state’s commuter rail system. Executive Editor Steven Lanza and UConn undergraduate Bryan Murphy explore the potential benefits of rail expansion by examining the effects of the current network on home prices. They show that, after controlling for other factors, households are willing to pay about 5% more for homes in towns with a commuter rail station. These “capitalized” benefits of existing stops may be useful to policymakers in estimating the potential benefits of new commuter links.

Art Wright jumps into the health care reform fray by studying the sources of variation in Medicare spending per enrollee across states, over the period 1991-2004. Medicare has been seen as a model for the controversial “public option” in reform proposals, as well as an example of the problems that might accompany further public involvement in health care. Wright’s study shows that the sources of large spending differences in the Medicare program are not easy to discern. The distribution of doctors seems to be an important factor, but the nature of the relationship is complex.

Connecticut has been wrestling with a large budget deficit that requires expenditure and tax adjustments. Dennis Heffley teams up with former grad students MaryJane Lenon (PhD, 1989)—currently MBA Director at Providence College—and Raymond Salani III (MA, 2008) to examine the effects of the tax mix on non-federal revenues per head. Using data for all 50 states and 12 fiscal years, their panel-data analysis suggests that states may have few options to increase the tax take by simply adjusting their tax mix. The few apparent “targets of opportunity” tend to be politically unpopular with voters or risk offending special interests.

For free access to this and other issues of The Connecticut Economy, visit: http://cteconomy.uconn.edu/.

Bill Lott to become interim department head

Bill Lott will become Interim Head of the Department of Economics as of July 1, 2009. Dennis Heffley (IDEAS), who has served as Department Head for the past four years, recently announced that he would be stepping down from the position on June 30th and returning to full-time teaching and research. Jeremy Teitelbaum, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, subsequently announced that he would be appointing an Interim Head until a full search could take place.

Professor Lott is the Department’s senior member, having just completed his 40th year of service at UConn. Bill completed his PhD at North Carolina State University under the tutelage of prominent econometrician T. Dudley
Wallace, who later joined the Economics faculty at Duke. Lott regularly teaches Econometrics at the graduate level, as well as undergraduate courses in Mathematical Economics, Information Technology for Economists, and
Money & Banking. He and his colleague, Susan Randolph, have recently teamed up to conduct an analysis of the dispersion and growth of income inequality in Connecticut (see pdf). A follow-up paper on this subject is scheduled to appear in the Summer 2009 issue of The Connecticut Economy.