Look for the next GCER Newsletter in June. Past Newsletters can be found here.
News Archive - Page 1
Jan 27, 2017
The sixth year of the GCER Distinguished Visitor Series features a number of prominent economists who will spend time in the Department during the 2016-17 academic year. This years Distinguished Visitors include: Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde (UPenn), Douglas Gale (NYU) and Whitney Newey (MIT).
Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde is the Director of Graduate Studies and Professor of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Fernandez-Villaverde is a Research Associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and Penn's Population Studies Center, and a Research Affiliate for the Centre for Economic Policy Research. His research agenda is in macroeconomics and econometrics, with a focus on the computation and estimation of dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models.
Douglas Gale is the Silver Professor of Economics at New York University. Professor Gale is a Fellow of the Econometric Society. Professor Gale’s research interests include the foundations of general equilibrium theory; financial economics and banking; experimental economics and decision theory. He has worked closely with Franklin Allen on the theory of banking and financial crises, with special focus on the interaction of banks and markets. Professor Gale will visit the Department during the week of February 27-March 3, 2017 where he will present his latest research in the departmental workshop, and will meet with faculty and students.
Whitney Newey is the Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Newey will visit the Georgetown Economics department during the week of February 21-24, 2017, where he will meet with faculty and students.
Dec 12, 2016
Professor Billy Jack recently published an article in Science, which shares the analysis of data collected over a six year period in Kenya that has revealed that the country's mobile money platform, M-PESA, has lifted nearly 200,000 households out of poverty. The effects of this form of digital financial inclusion are particularly strong for female headed households, with an estimated 185,000 women moving from agriculture to business as their primary occupation as a result of the expansion of mobile money. The study, conducted by Tavneet Suri at MIT Sloan with Billy Jack from Georgetown's Department of Economics, appears in the current issue of Science Magazine. For the full article that was posted on Georgetown University's website, please click here.
Oct 27, 2016
Alan Krueger, Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University will deliver the 2017 Razin Policy Lecture on April 24. The Lecture will take place on Monday, April 24, 2017 from 4:00 to 6:00 on the Georgetown University campus. A reception will follow.
Professor Krueger’s research has included: a study showing that minimum wage hikes can be associated with increased low-skill employment; predictions about who becomes a terrorist; proposals to create national “well-being” accounts to complement measured GDP; a demonstration that graduates of selective colleges (Georgetown?) do not earn higher incomes than similar graduates of less-selective colleges; evidence that computers have contributed to growing income inequality; evidence that economic growth does not necessarily degrade the environment; a paper about the music industry called “Rockonomics”; and much, much more.
While not at Princeton, Professor Krueger has served as Chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, Chief Economist at the U.S. Treasury during the financial crisis, and Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Oct 20, 2016
Featured Research Profile: Fall/Winter 2016-2017
Markets with Search and Matching Frictions: Georgetown economists James Albrecht and Susan Vroman discuss directed search in the housing market. In textbook economics, the market for a good is in equilibrium when its price “equates supply and demand.” The supply-demand approach is a useful tool, but for many important markets, this framework doesn’t do a good job because of frictions that make it hard for buyers to find suitable sellers and vice versa. Take, for example, the labor market. This is a market in which the “good” being sold (labor services) isn’t standardized, so the notion of a “market-clearing price” isn’t useful. Instead, it takes time and effort for workers to find the right job, and, similarly, employers have to expend time and effort to find the right worker. That is, the labor market is characterized by search and matching frictions. Most of the research of Jim Albrecht and Susan Vroman is focused on developing models to better understand how markets with search and matching frictions work. They have applied their models to several markets, in particular, the labor market and the housing market. Their most recent published paper focuses on the housing market. Search theory is a natural tool to use to analyze this market: anyone who has bought or sold a house knows that it takes time and effort to find a suitable counterpart on the other side of the market. When a house is listed for sale, the seller posts an asking price. Sometimes houses sell at a price below the asking price, sometimes above, and often exactly at the asking price. What role does the asking price play in the housing market, and, more generally, how are sale prices determined in this market? In “Directed Search in the Housing Market,” published in the Review of Economic Dynamics earlier this year, Albrecht and Vroman, together with co-author Pieter Gautier, analyze these questions by constructing a model in which they assume that sellers have limited commitment to the posted asking price. Commitment is limited in the sense that if only one buyer makes a bona fide offer at the asking price, the seller is obliged to sell at that price. This commitment is typically written into contracts with sellers’ agents. However, if more than one buyer offers the asking price, the sale price can be bid above the posted level, and, of course, if the only the offers received are below the asking price, the seller is free to accept or reject the highest of these. In addition to helping understand the pricing patterns that we see in the data, the model explains how the asking price can signal seller “motivation,” that is., how eager the seller is to make a deal. Buyers observing a variety of asking prices will direct their search so that their expected benefit is the same regardless of the price. Buyers know that there is a tradeoff: a low asking price is appealing but it appeals to many buyers so that the chance of being the highest bidder is small whereas bidding on a house with a high asking price likely means paying more if the buyer has the winning bid but having a greater chance of winning. In equilibrium, Albrecht, Gautier and Vroman find that asking prices can indeed signal seller motivation and that prices draw more buyers to the more motivated sellers, an efficient outcome. Albrecht and Vroman, together with co-author Bruno Decreuse, are currently working on a search-theoretic model of the labor market in which “phantom” job vacancies affect the rate at which the unemployed find jobs. Phantoms are ads for jobs that have been already filled but not yet removed from online job sites like Craigslist and Monster.com. The unemployed direct their search (decide which listings to pursue) taking the fact that older listings are more likely to be phantoms into account. Albrecht, Decreuse and Vroman show that workers over-apply to relatively new job listings – “over-apply” in the sense that if workers could coordinate their search activity, they would choose to direct more applications towards older listings. The authors also show that phantoms are quantitatively extremely important. In a calibrated version of their model, phantoms account for a substantial fraction of unemployment and an even larger percentage of search frictions.
Oct 11, 2016
GCER Congratulates the Economic Science Nobel Laureates of 2016, Oliver Hart (Harvard), and Bengt Holmström,(MIT). The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Prize for their work in Contract Theory. Their work has profoundly shaped economists' understanding of the role of incentives and property rights. Besides providing essential building blocks for a modern theory of the firm, this year Laureates' writings have found applications that span from Corporate Finance, to Labor Economics, to the Economics of Prisons. GCER is also proud to note that the Nobel Committee in its Scientific Background Paper cited a contribution co-authored by GCER Fellow Luca Anderlini (Anderlini and Felli, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1994) .