Message from the Chair
Dear GW Department of Economics Alumni,
Welcome to the 2021-2022 Academic Year Newsletter!
These newsletters allow us to share developments at the department, feature milestones of our students and highlight special achievements of faculty and alumni alike. Everyone is happy to be back to in-person classes and events!
We are delighted to announce that we have two wonderful new colleagues joining us this fall, incoming Assistant Professors Nick Li and Tanner Regan. On a sadder note, the department mourns the loss of our much-loved colleague, Professor Fred Joutz. Many of the faculty attended his Celebration of Life service on March 12. A remembrance was published in the GW Hatchet. Earlier this year, we marked the passing of Professor Emeritus and former Department Chair Charlie Stewart, who died on January 29 at the age of 99.
Research activities of scholars throughout the world have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these disruptions, the economics faculty continued high research productivity. Some of the many significant examples of published research over the past year are reported in the Kudos section of this newsletter.
The department continued to build on strengths in key areas and is working to be in the best possible position to continue and expand our initiatives post-pandemic. Throughout the year, the department maintained an active program of weekly research events, sponsored by our four major research workshop series: Microeconomics, Macro/International, Trade and Development and Forecasting. The seminars were a combination of online and in-person events, including hybrid formats so that all would be able to attend. We welcome you to join us at our events in the coming year.
Prodded by the need to teach at a high level during the COVID pandemic, most of the faculty developed and adopted new approaches for remote learning. Now back in person, many have experimented with how we can bring online innovations back into the classroom, including posting lecture videos that can be viewed before class and offering classroom recordings on Blackboard.
On behalf of the department, we are very grateful for our alumni whose generous donations have contributed to the success of our students and our academic programs even in the difficult conditions of the pandemic. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in the coming year, as we return more fully to on-campus events and exciting new initiatives!
Stephen C. Smith
Economics Alumna Takes Lead in Measuring Inequality at BEA
Professor Tara Sinclair recently interviewed alumna, Marina Gindelsky, PhD ’16, about her impressive work on the new Distribution of Personal Income statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).
As a graduate student, Marina worked on several projects at the World Bank as a short-term consultant. She was also a research associate in the Economics Department and the Institute for International Economic Policy. Marina also taught International Trade Theory and Policy (Econ 2181) and Survey of International Economics (Econ 2180). Through her work and her studies, Marina developed a passion for research, particularly focusing on income inequality, urban economics, labor economics and development economics.
After completing her PhD in June 2015, Marina joined BEA as an economist in the Office of the Chief Economist. Her application to them stood out because of a chapter of her dissertation that focused on income inequality. That chapter evolved into BEA Working Paper 2018-07: “Modeling and Forecasting Income Inequality in the United States.”
BEA was looking for someone interested in the distribution of income for an ongoing project with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). That project focused on defining “an internationally comparable methodology to produce measures of disparities that are consistent with national accounts concepts and totals using existing microdata sources.” Once onboard at BEA, Marina jumped into this very challenging project as part of the Expert Group on Distributional National Accounts. Marina quickly had to get up to speed on national accounts, working with an international team and SAS code.
After the success of the OECD project, Marina took the lead on the new BEA Distribution of Personal Income statistics. These are the first official statistics linking national account totals with households. Work on these statistics began several years ago and there is also a proposed Congressional bill requesting them. Since the first release of the BEA Distribution of Personal Income statistics in 2020, the time series has been expanded to now cover 20 years of data.
With that expansion, it’s possible to see the link between macroeconomic growth and inequality. Other BEA series show that personal income is growing. But before this data product, it wasn’t possible with official statistics to see how the growth is distributed across households. The striking finding is that over half the growth of personal income is going to the top quintile of the distribution. Marina is careful to note, however, that because it’s not panel data, it’s not possible to track individuals over time. Marina also highlights that this analysis is for the distribution of personal income rather than GDP. Allocating GDP by household adds complexity since some components of GDP are difficult to distribute. For example, Marina asks: “How would you appropriately distribute defense spending to households?”
Marina truly loves her job at BEA. She appreciates how the agency emphasizes close ties between production responsibilities and research. She praised their exceptional research environment and describes it as collaborative with tons of research seminars and active encouragement to publish research.
Marina had been looking for a job with a strong research component and is thrilled with where she landed. She has three-to-four meetings a week, and most of her time is spent doing research. For example, her recent publication in Economic Inquiry, “Do Transfers Lower Inequality Between Households? Demographic Evidence from Distributional National Accounts,” is an example of how her production work led to a research question and eventually an academic publication. She’s also had time to work on research unrelated to inequality, such as her ongoing collaborations with Professor Remi Jedwab, “Killer Cities and Industrious Cities? New Data and Evidence on 250 Years of Urban Growth.”
Marina has stayed in touch with the department through adjunct teaching (Intermediate Microeconomics, Econ 2101, and Survey of International Economics, Econ 6280). She’s also kept an eye on the continued success of GW Student Association of Graduate Economists where she served as co-chair as a graduate student.
Visit Marina’s website to find out more about her research.
Tribute to the Life of Professor Fred Joutz
We are deeply saddened to share the news that Fred Joutz, our treasured colleague and friend, passed away on February 21, 2022, due to prostate cancer. Fred joined the department in 1988 and was a professor of economics and co-director of the H.O. Stekler Research Program on Forecasting at GW.
Fred served as a PhD advisor and dissertation committee member to countless GW PhD students over the years dating back to 1991. His research focused on macroeconomic and energy econometric modeling and forecasting. He contributed quarterly macroeconomic forecasts to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and the Survey of Professional Forecasters and the Economic Survey International ESI by the CES/Ifo Institute for Economic Research.
Fred served as a consultant and technical expert to many agencies and offices including the Energy Information Administration, IMF, American Gas Association, New England Power Pool, Consumers Energy, the U.S. and European Patent Offices, the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other private corporations and government agencies.
He participated in the Federal Forecasters Consortium. He taught short courses for Timberlake Consultants and co-hosted its events at GW. He was a Senior Fellow of the U.S. Association of Energy Economics, and associate editor for Energy Economics and the International Journal of Forecasting. He taught one-day workshops at Meridian House about the U.S. economy for visiting foreign journalists and government officials.
His professional work also took him around the world to the UAE, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, the Caribbean and the continents of Africa and Asia. Fred was a dedicated world traveler in his personal and professional life, and he made a point of sending his friends witty postcards from distant places—always written with his signature dry humor that we adored.
Fred was especially beloved by many Economics Department staff members over the years who felt endeared to him because he formed friendships with staff as respected and valuable members of the department. One staff member warmly spoke of Fred as someone who always treated her like an equal. He became friends with our long-time manager and nicknamed her “Boss”—“Hi Boss,” “Thanks, Boss,” “Go talk to the Boss.”
Fred made a point of coming into the department office with fun souvenirs when he returned from his latest world travels—all the better on those occasions when the souvenir was edible or came in a bottle. Fred was an all-around good-natured guy and a brilliant thinker who built an amazing record of work and friendships in his lifetime. He enjoyed camping, canoeing, fishing, spending time with loved ones and all things pistachio. He ate lunch with our faculty “lunch bunch” in the department. Fred greeted colleagues with a friendly wave and a hello when they walked by his open door, often inviting people in to catch up and ask how they were doing. Those who spent enough time with Fred were fortunate to enjoy his subtly funny facial expressions and dry sense of humor. And if you were very lucky, Fred chose you to hear his hilariously honest observations about work, politics and current events.
We mourn Fred with alternating feelings of sadness over his loss and joy for all the fun and friendly moments he gave us. He was one-of-a-kind and will be deeply missed.
Written by Mira Selm
Welcome New Faculty
Dr. Li is an economist at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He graduated with a PhD in economics from UC Berkeley in 2019, and his thesis adviser was Nobel Laureate Professor David Card. He is a labor economist with a particular focus in quantitative methods. He has published research in Econometrica (among the top handful of journals in economics), and in the Journal of the European Economic Association. During his interview, he presented his sole-authored paper, “Housing Market Channels of Segregation,” in which he quantitatively decomposes the forces driving racial segregation in U.S. cities in 1940, finding that the early constraints on Black households’ neighborhood choices drive the persistence in segregation across cities between 1960–2010. His research applies innovative empirical methods from labor economics and industrial organization.
Dr. Regan is a research fellow at the London Business School. He received his PhD in economic geography from the London School of Economics in 2021. His research focuses on the economics of housing, slum upgrading, formalization and redevelopment, land tenure, urban planning and property tax in developing country cities, mostly in Africa. To study these issues, he uses tools from applied microeconomics, behavioral economics and experimental economics and a combination of satellite imagery, primary surveys and administrative data. He has four publications, two of them in the leading economics publication the Journal of Political Economy, as well as the Review of Economic Studies.
Alumni Class Notes
- B. Jay Baraff, AA ’60, BA ’62, graduated from Harvard Law School and practiced until he retired in 1995. He married Sandra Schultz in 1969 and moved to Bethesda, Md., in 1970 where they raised two cherished children: Laura and Aaron Paul. They have been blessed with three grandchildren.
- Brian Buzzell, BA ’69, is a retired Navy captain, international business consultant and Five Guys Franchisee (Wisconsin). He continues consulting in National Security Policy with an emphasis on INDO-PACOM Region.
- Alicia Garcia-Herrero, PhD ’04, moved to Taipei from Hong Kong. She is a chief economist for the Asia Pacific for French investment bank, NATIXIS, and the senior research fellow for Brussels-based think tank, Bruegel. She is now affiliated with the National University of Singapore.
- David Goodwin, BA ’06, MD ’10, is an orthopedic surgeon in Northern Virginia. He continues to work with medical students from GW, where he also went to medical school.
- Sanjay Gupta, BS ’98, relocated from New York to London and is the global head of private equity investing at UBP.
- Barry Lerner, BA ’83, runs a consulting company helping large firms prepare technical proposals for the government and industry.
- Lana (Bronipolsky) Lodge, BA BS ’04, is the executive vice president of business operations for MPOWER Financing, a Fintech that helps international students finance their educations. She oversees Fund Operation, Talent and Recruiting, and Legal.
- Sultan Lufti, MPhil ’76, served as a Jordanian diplomat in Washington, D.C., retired as an ambassador in 1992 and was an economic advisor to the Crown Prince of Jordan for four years. He joined the World Bank in 1992 as a senior advisor to the executive director and retired in 2014.
- Haley (Meyers) Mathieu, BA ’17, married fellow GW alumnus Kevin Mathieu, MPH ’19, and works for congressional affairs at HUD OIG.
- Les Megyeri, BA ’63, ABA ’72, BA ’73, JD ’68, MBA ’80, retired from the House Judiciary Committee and currently volunteers as a ski patroller in Pennsylvania. He is especially proud of providing first aid to injured skiers and still continues to lobby for Hungarian issues.
- Jean Montgomery, PhD ’76, retired in 2003 after working for the Montgomery County Department of Information Systems for 27 years.
- Mary Clare O'Connor, BA ’20, works at Deloitte Consulting and is having fun re-exploring her hometown.
- Jake Ottley, BS ’21, is an analyst at Deloitte in Government and Public Services.
- Leigh Payne, BA ’21, won the Miss Rhode Island Scholarship Pageant and competed at the 100th Anniversary of Miss America in December 2021.
- Kesner Pharel, BA ’85, is a leading economist in the field of development in Haïti, where he founded a consulting firm, Group Croissance. They give services to local and international organizations and educate people in finance and economics through the media.
- Eli Pullman, BS ’18, is an MBA student at Columbia Business School, graduating in 2023. This summer, he will be interning at PJT Partners in New York City.
- Conway Reinders, BA ’16 was elected to The National Academy of Social Insurance.
- Julia Richards, BA ’06, is an executive director for J.P. Morgan, managing treasury services relationships with medium-size technology corporations.
- Pasquale (Pat) Rocco, BA ’87, is celebrating 25 years of employment at TWIN Capital Management, Inc., where he serves as the research director. He resides in western Pennsylvania with his wife, Sue, and their five children.
- Shamik Trivedi, BA ’04, rejoined the IRS Office of Chief Counsel in April as a special counsel after serving as deputy associate counsel and senior tax counsel in the White House.
- Alex Wang, BA ’16, MA ’18, is a global investor analyst at CBRE, the largest commercial service firm in the world. He lives in Arlington, Va., and his office is in DuPont Circle.
- Shuangyuan Wei, MA ’12, is a data scientist at Amazon. She uses statistics and economics to help businesses make better decisions.
- Professor Paul Carrillo co-authored the paper “Imports, Exports, and Earnings Inequality: Measures of Exposure and Estimates of Incidence” in The Quarterly Journal of Economics. He and William Larson, PhD ’11, have a forthcoming article in the Journal of Money Credit and Banking titled “House Price Markups and Mortgage Defaults.”
- Professor Barry R. Chiswick and RaeAnn H. Robinson, PhD ’19, published their paper “Women at Work in the United States Since 1860: An Analysis of Unreported Family Workers” in Explorations in Economic History, October 2021.
- Professor Alessandra Fenizia has a forthcoming paper in Econometrica titled “Managers and Productivity in the Public Sector.”
- Professor Remi Jedwab co-authored the paper “The Economic Impact of the Black Death” in the Journal of Economic Literature.
- Professor Elira Kuka was awarded a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to study the impact of high-quality research feedback on the academic success of women and underrepresented minorities.
- Professor Jay C. Shambaugh was nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as Under Secretary for International Affairs, U.S. Department of the Treasury.
- Professor Tara M. Sinclair spoke with CCAS Dean Paul Wahlbeck in a video discussion about the pandemic’s economic impact and her analysis on what’s to come.
- Professor Stephen C. Smith and Vida Bobic, PhD ’20, co-authored a forthcoming article, “Can Agricultural Extension and Input Support Be Discontinued? Evidence from a Randomized Phaseout in Uganda,” in The Review of Economics and Statistics.
- Professor Tomas Williams co-authored a forthcoming article in the Journal of International Economics titled “Large International Corporate Bonds: Investor Behavior and Firms Responses.”