Smirnova

Early College Experience Economics Workshop

The Early College Experience Economics program (https://ece.uconn.edu/) held its annual workshop this fall for 30 Connecticut high school economics teachers who are teaching UConn’s Principles of Microeconomics (ECON 1201), Principles of Macroeconomics (ECON 1202) and/or Essentials of Economics (ECON 1000).

Early College Experience Workshop Presentation with Shor

Leading off the workshop was Professor Mike Shor, presenting “Patent Holdup” in which he explained the limits monopoly power conveyed by patents. The complementary relationships among patents and the price determination of purchasing or licensing of patents. He went on to explain the idea of the patent hold up.  He also provided the workshop participants with a classroom exercise in which students discover how patents are priced.

Early College Experience Workshop Presentation with Smirnova

There followed a presentation by Professor Natalia Smirnova, “Using Data in the Classroom: FRED database.” Professor Smirnova demonstrated several empirical uses of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank’s FRED database including both Macro and Micro economic examples.

Professor William Alpert presented a lunch time talk about the “Perils and Pitfalls of Prediction” highlighting the famine predictions of Paul Ehrlich for the 1980 (100’s of millions die) and the failed predictions of The Club of Rome from 1973. Professor Alpert also “predicted” the rise to more than 600 million in the number of horses in the United States if 18th Century trends had continued, assuming no alternative means of transportation.

Early College Experience Workshop Presentation with Alpert

Professor Steven Lanza then followed up with a presentation entitled “Rediscovering Lost Arts: Economic Index Numbers” in which he stressed the importance of index numbers and the biases in those numbers.  He also demonstrated how to calculate them using data that is easy to access and readily available.

Professor Nishith Prakash rendered the concluding presentation concerning a natural experiment concerning the harassment.  In India 79% of women living in cities have experienced harassment in public spaces.  Professor Prakash and his coauthors set out to determine the effect of street patrolling that targets harassment, on the type and frequency of incidents and women’s proactive responses.  They also are trying to determine the impacts of targeting perpetrators of harassment and what drives these changes — visibility, and/or quantity of a focused taskforce?

All of the presentations were well received and the workshop was among the most successful offered by the ECE Economics program.

Stamford Math Econ Students Working with the Business Community

IRL Case Study LogoThis Fall, Professor Smirnova’s Mathematical Economics class in Stamford engaged in  collaboration with the local business community. A key element of the course was the empirical project, which gave students hands-on experience in working with data and proposing a solution to a real problem for Stamford-based businesses. Separated randomly into seven teams, students pondered the research question: How to attract and retain Millennial talent in Stamford, CT?

This question was posited by Kelly Pierre-Louis, UConn alumna, Founder & Executive Director of #IRLCONN – (In Real Life Conference:  #IRLCONN: Edu). Kelly devoted a substantial amount of time observing teams’ presentations throughout the semester and giving constructive feedback. On the last day of classes, December 5th, teams presented their answer to the research question, their analysis of data, and their recommendations for the Millennial talent retention in Stamford. In attendance at the event were local business community leaders from Stamford Chamber of Commerce, Business Council of Fairfield County, Ferguson Library, Waddell and Reed, GAIA Real Estate, Congressman Jim Himes’s office, and Luigi and Associates.

Students had the opportunity not only to showcase their research but also network with business professionals, ask and answer questions, and connect. Our guests were very enthusiastic about student projects’ outcomes. They asked questions, provided their views on the subject, and were interested in implementing some of the students’ recommendations in their businesses or their line of work. Good dialogue and an exchange of ideas for future collaboration inside and outside of the classroom commenced.

Such real-world projects’ integration in the economics curriculum proves to be an exciting new way of connecting our students to the realm outside the academia. It also makes class projects more meaningful and develops skills that can be easily transferred to the workplace.

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.

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! 😊

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.

Professors Smirnova and Harmon present at the 45th Annual Eastern Economic Association Conference in NYC

Professors Natalia Smirnova (UConn PhD 2004) and Oskar Harmon organized and participated in the panel “College Fed Challenge: Impact on Students’ Knowledge Acquisition”.

Among the panelists were faculty advisers and team captains from three  NY Federal Reserve Region teams, including the captain of the UConn Stamford team, Jonathan Herrick.

For more information about the panel discussion click here.

UConn-Stamford FED Challenge Team Earns Honorable Mention at Competition in NYC

The UConn-Stamford FED Challenge team earned honorable mention in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York 2018 College FED Challenge competition. This marked the third consecutive year of participation in the competition by the Stamford Campus team and the first time advancing to the semi-final round. The competition started with 39 teams in the initial round on October 24. The UCONN-Stamford team advanced to the semi-final round held on November 14 among only eight teams. Rutgers University-New Brunswick placed first and advanced to the final round held in Washington DC November 29. Columbia University placed second. UConn-Stamford earned Honorable Mention along with Fairfield University, Fordham University, Siena College, and SUNY-Oneonta.

The College Fed Challenge is a team competition for undergraduate students. Teams analyze economic and financial conditions and formulate a monetary policy recommendation, modeling the Federal Open Market Committee. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is one of four Federal Reserve Banks that host the College Fed Challenge Competition. The regional winners go to the final round at the Board of Governors in Washington D.C.

UCONN-Stamford team was comprised of 3 presenters: Ignacio Gonzalez, Jonathan Herrick, and Brendan Armburst-Mulcahey. The team coach was Di Yang, (Stamford Business School MBA). The researchers who helped prepare the team for the competition were Aditya Dadavai, Sijie Hu, Lingyi Zhu, and Roma Roma (all in the Stamford Business School BPMA Program). Faculty advisors were professors Natalia Smirnova, Steven Lanza, Kanda Naknoi, and Oskar Harmon. The team benefited from practice sessions of challenging questions with volunteer members of the Fairfield Business Community.

The team participants shown in the picture at the awards ceremony at the FRBNY are (from left to right): Brendan Armburst-Mulcahey, Di Yang, Natalia Smirnova, Jonathan Herrick, Ignacio Gonzalez, Oskar Harmon.

Professor Smirnova publishes in The Social Studies

Dr. Smirnova’s article “Teaching Money and Inflation Across the Curriculum” came out online on January 2 in The Social Studies, a peer-reviewed journal that publishes articles of interest to educators at all levels. The article describes the outcomes of a program for K-12 teachers that she created while serving as Director of Education at the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER). The program uses the Economics-Across-the-Curriculum approach which encourages the integration of economic concepts into various disciplines.

Dr. Smirnova has long been an advocate for bringing economic and financial literacy education to a wider audience. This publication is her fourth in the series of articles describing the impact of this unique approach on knowledge acquisition and showcasing creative lessons that were field-tested by teachers. In her articles, she demonstrates that any subject area can be a fruitful ground for the infusion of economic concepts and for making lessons relevant and meaningful to students.

This latest publication features several lesson ideas for teaching about money and inflation to high-school students. These lessons were incorporated in algebra, American history, and Spanish language classes. The main beauty of the lessons presented in the article is the empowerment of students to apply economics to their everyday life. The article also presents details on how to setup a professional development workshop for teachers and how to inspire them to create and field-test an economic concept integration idea.

Early College Experience Program Workshop

The Economics Department Early College Experience Program held its annual workshop for teachers on November 1 at the Storrs Campus. The workshop was attended by 25 teachers from high schools across the state who hold the positions of instructor and preceptor of economics responsible for teaching high school students Principles of Microeconomics (Economics 1201), Principles of Macroeconomics (Economics 1202) and Essentials of Economics (Economics 1000) in their high school.

 

The teachers who attended, learned from a program they inspired by suggesting topics in the spring of 2018.  Highlights of this year’s program included Professor Nishith Prakash presenting his work entitled “Gender, Crime and Punishment”, which provided a peek at original economics research.  The teachers were excited by this work and raised numerous questions.

 

Professor Prakash’s paper was followed by a presentation by Professor Natalia Smirnova (a UConn Economics Ph.D.) entitled “Oligarchs and Ivans:  A Changing Russian Economy 1990-2020” in which Professor Smirnova provided both background and predictions for the modern Russian Economy including a look forward. 

 

Professor Oskar R. Harmon, who is doing research and teaching about sports economics, presented an exciting session entitled “Sports Economics and Principals of Economics” over lunch.  Professor Harmon was followed on the program by Mr. Paul Conant explaining the Kyoto Treaty to the teachers in a session titled “Kyoto and Beyond.”

 

ECE Economics Coordinator and Emeritus Professor of Economics Bill Alpert capped off the day with his discussion “Income Distribution: What’s the Matter?”   

After continuing discussion the workshop was adjourned.