Monday, November 29, 2010

Special Seminar!

Office of the Provost
Department of Economics, CAS

Co-Sponsor a Lecture by:
Peter B. Doeringer
Boston University


Can Small-Scale Industries Be Rescued from Industrial Decline?
Labor Market Regulation, Workplace Efficiency,
and Economic Performance in the Los Angeles
and New York Garment Districts

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
12-1:30 p.m.
East Quad Building Lounge

Monday, November 15, 2010

Seminar, November 17

Robin Lumsdaine will be presenting her work: "The Relationship between Oil Prices and Breakeven Inflation Rates."

The seminar is in Kreeger 101 and runs 12PM-1:15PM.

An abstract of the research:

This paper explores the role of oil prices in the inflation-linked bond markets. Early proponents of inflation-linked bonds highlighted their role in protecting against future inflation, portfolio diversification, asset-liability matching, and use as a commitment tool for monetary policy in keeping inflation contained. From an investment perspective, real return assets should be attractive in prolonged periods of high inflation and unattractive in periods of low inflation resulting in increased demand for real return assets as inflation expectations grow and decreased demand as such expectations diminish. The late 1990s and early 2000s saw an expansion in the inflation-linked bond markets, with more sovereign issuers, increased issuance size and a wider range of maturities; this tremendous growth in turn fueled greater interest and participation in these markets. After a prolonged period of low and stable inflation, the rise in oil prices that began in 2003/4 coincided with the rapid expansion of the inflation-linked bond markets and the start of the Federal Reserve’s tightening cycle. In addition, the widening of the yield spread between nominal and inflation-linked bonds, or "breakeven", during this time was seen as an indication that inflation expectations were on the rise. Much of the runup in breakevens was attributed to the observed increases in oil prices. Yet despite similar trends, over most of the sample period, breakevens and oil have not moved one-for-one. Recently, however, the decline in oil prices has coincided with a dramatic decline in breakevens and unprecedented Fed easing. The results demonstrate that the coincidence of breakeven and oil price fluctuations is a relatively recent phenomenon, unique to the US market, and mainly associated with the front end of the breakeven curve.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Seminar, Wednesday November 3

This Wednesday Jennifer Poole (UC Santa Cruz) is presenting her work, "Trade Liberalization, Firm Heterogeneity, and Wages: New Evidence from Matched Employer–Employee Data."

The seminar is 12PM-1:15PM in Kreeger 101.


In this paper, we use a linked employer–employee database from Brazil to examine the heterogeneous responses of exporters and non-­exporters to trade reform. We begin our analysis at the firm level and estimate how average wages respond to trade liberalization and test whether these responses vary by the firm’s export status. We find that wages at exporting firms increase relative to non-­‐exporters in response to a decline in protection and that the differential impact is mainly due to exporters in sectors in which Brazil has the comparative advantage. We then decompose firm-level average wages into a component reflecting the firm’s workforce composition and a component reflecting the firm’s performance. Our decomposition suggests the relative increase in wages is largely due to the portion of wages that can be attributed to the relative performance improvement at exporters post-­‐liberalization; differential changes in unobservable workforce composition play a minor role in explaining the differential response to liberalization by firms with differing trade orientation. Our worker-level analysis, where we test for the differential impacts of trade liberalization on otherwise identical workers employed in heterogeneous firms, is supportive of this finding.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

IMF Jacques Polak Annual Research Conference

The IMF Jacques Polak Annual Research Conference will be on November 4-5, 2010, at the IMF headquarters in Washington, D.C. The theme of this year's conference is "Macroeconomic and Financial Policies after the Crisis." This year will mark the 11th anniversary of the conference with an outstanding list of presenters and discussants in the program. Anil Kashyap will deliver the Mundell-Fleming lecture on "The Macroprudential Toolkit." The conference will conclude with a policy panel on "Macro-Prudential Regulation" chaired by José Viñals and featuring discussions by Viral Acharya, Markus Brunnermeier, Donald Kohn, and Vincent Reinhart.

The link below will take you to the conference web page -- as the conference papers are received, they will be made available here.

The conference is intended to provide a forum for discussing innovative research in economics, undertaken both by IMF staff and by outside economists, and to facilitate the exchange of views among researchers and policymakers. If you plan to attend the conference, please register online using the attached link (registration will include all conference sessions, the Mundell-Fleming Lecture, and the Economic Forum). The deadline for registration is Friday, October 29, 2010. Registered attendees will be required to present photo identification on entering the IMF at the Visitor Center entrance at 700 19th Street, N.W. Washington D.C.
Look forward to seeing you at the conference.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Department Seminar, Wednesday October 27

This Wednesday, Petra Todd (UPenn) will be presenting her work, "Structural Estimation and Policy Evaluation in Developing Countries."

The seminar will be in Kreeger 101, from 12PM-1:15PM. The seminar is a joint department and Info-Metrics Institute affair.

An abstract of the work:

This paper discusses the use of discrete choice dynamic programming (DCDP) methods for evaluating policies of particular relevance to developing countries, such as policies to reduce child labor and increase school attendance, to improve school quality, to affect immigration flows, to expand old age pension benefits, or to foster small business investment through microfinance. We describe the DCDP framework and how it relates to static models, illustrate its application with an example related to conditional cash transfer programs, consider numerous empirical applications from the literature of how the DCDP methodology has been used
to address substantively important policy issues, and discuss methods for model validation.

Census Bureau Research Data Center Research Conference

Registration is now open for the Census Bureau's Research Data Center Research Conference, which will be held at the University of Maryland Inn and Conference Center on Thursday, November 18. There is no registration fee for the conference; however, register soon since we are capping registration at 175.

More information is available on the Maryland Population Research Center website.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Don't forget--registration for MA students opens Friday, October 22. Feel free to contact me with questions about courses and to get approval for registration.

January 2011 Comprehensive Exams

Please note the following dates and procedures for January 2011 comprehensive exams:

Applications Due: Friday, November 19th, 2010
You must apply by this date and pay the fee in order to be guaranteed an exam in January. Late applications will not be accepted (especially if you are the only one taking a particular test). Please note that this is the Friday before the week when Thanksgiving break falls.

Exams Given: between Thrusday, January 6th and Friday, January 7th, 2011 (exact dates of each exam to be determined).
You must be in the exam room (location TBD) no later than 10:00 am on the day of your exam. You will have until 2:30 pm to complete your exams. (Going over the time limit is not allowed.) Anyone requesting special accommodations for a learning disability MUST make the request through Academic Support Services (but also register with the department).

If you have not done so already, please contact your advisor to see if you are ready to take an exam. If you determine that you are, please fill out an application and submit it to the department office and Registrar as soon as possible. Here is a link to the application:

and here is the link to past examinations.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Presidential Management Fellows

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is currently seeking candidates for the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program! This highly selective, rigorous leadership program recruits outstanding graduate students for a two-year developmental fellowship at various Federal Agencies.

Fellows Receive
  • Two-year paid fellowships
  • 80 hours of training each year
  • Competitive pay and benefits
  • Potential accelerated promotions

Apply between October 1-15, 2010!

Eligibility and application information is available at

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Department Seminar, Wednesday September 29

Wednesday, Ximing Wu (Texas A&M and a Visiting Fellow, Info-Metrics Institute)
will be presenting "Semiparametric Estimation of Production Functions with Shape Constraints" in the Kreeger Seminar Room between 12 and 1:15.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Job Opportunity

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration needs to quickly fill a position for a statistician. A recent graduate with training in statistics and knowledge of SAS or SPSS could be an excellent fit. A more detailed announcement is below.

Job Title: Statistician (Economics)

Department: Department Of Labor

Agency: Employment and Training Administration

Sub Agency: U.S. Department of Labor

Job Announcement Number: DE-10-ETA-247


$51,630.00 - $67,114.00 /year


Wednesday, September 22, 2010 to Tuesday, September 28, 2010




Full Time Permanent




1 vacancy(s) in one of the following locations: Washington DC Metro Area, DC


Applications/resumes will be accepted (on-line via from
United States citizens and nationals and from ICTAP Eligibles within
the local commuting area.

Please review the "How to Apply" tab for specific application
instructions. If you have trouble entering your resume into the
system you must contact USAJOBS helpdesk. If you have questions
regarding the vacancy please submit them to


Join the team! Begin a challenging career
with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and you
will help shape the workforce of tomorrow. DOL
offers rewarding opportunities to contribute to
a noble mission; to serve and protect American
workers, to prepare them for new and better jobs,
and to ensure the safety and fairness of
American workplaces.

This position is located in the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), Office of Unemployment Insurance (OUI), Division of Performance Management (DPM), Data Analysis and Data Validation Team.

DPM is primarily responsible for developing, monitoring, analyzing, validating, and reporting on performance measures under the Government Performance and Results Act and UI Performs (the performance management system for the Unemployment Insurance program). The division also designs and delivers training for the quality assessment of benefit eligibility determinations and to conduct investigations to ensure accurate benefit payments, and oversees the development of automated systems for data collection of state UI data to assist with the federal oversight of the states' UI operations.


  • U.S. Citizenship.
  • Requires a probationary period if the requirement has not been met.
  • Appointment to this position may require a background investigation.


Additional Duty Location Info:

Washington DC Metro Area, DC

The incumbent's primary duties will include the following:

1. Gathers data on economic and/or programmatic characteristics affecting the UI program and other labor force data; makes comparisons of economic data; prepares narrative summaries and reports of findings, recommendations, and conclusions.

2. Performs methodological research and analysis to assure the quality and technical adequacy of data collected through the Benefit Accuracy Measurement (BAM) statistical survey and the UI required reports.

3. Retrieves, assembles, and tabulates data for use as part of input into larger studies. Prepares graphical displays of UI program data.

4. Selects, organizes, and evaluates materials and information from a variety of sources pertaining to unemployment, labor force, and/or state and national economic statistics.

5. Prepares segments of recurring reports and analyses on the accuracy of UI payments, state UI program performance, and data quality.

6. Identifies underlying trends and apparent discrepancies in data which affect UI payment accuracy and UI program performance; makes comparisons of unemployment, economic and/or labor force data and prepares reports on findings for referral to senior staff members.

7. Prepares special analyses and data summaries to meet the needs of the data users, explaining significance and limitations of data.

8. Prepares correspondence for inquiries related to assigned programs and provides detailed descriptions or analysis of scope, concepts, and limitations of data provided.

Qualifications and Evaluations


Applicants must meet qualification, legal, and regulatory
requirements for the position by the closing date of this vacancy

Applicants must have 52 weeks of specialized experience equivalent to
at least the next lower grade level, GS-7, in the Federal Service.

Specialized experience is experience in or directly related to the line of work of the position to be filled, and which has equipped the applicant with the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position.

Examples of specialized experience include data analysis skills, specifically identifying underlying trends and discrepancies in data, and the use of statistical tools, such as SPSS and SAS.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Department Seminar, Wednesday September 22

This Wednesday John Nye (George Mason) will be presenting his work on the persistence of seemingly irrational superstitions. The seminar is in Kreeger 101 and will run 12PM-1:15PM.

The research examines the belief among East Asian immigrants that children born in the Year of the Dragon are superior. The work documents both spikes in births in Dragon years and that children born in the Year of the Dragon are more educated than otherwise similar immigrants.

An abstract of the paper is below.


Why do seemingly irrational superstitions persist? We analyze the widely held belief among Asians that children born in the Year of the Dragon are superior. We use pooled cross section data from the U.S. Current Population Survey to show that Asian immigrants to the United States born in the 1976 year of the Dragon are more educated than comparable immigrants from non-Dragon years. In contrast, no such educational effect is noticeable for Dragon-year children in the general U.S. population. We also provide evidence that Asian mothers of Dragon year babies are more educated, richer, and slightly older than Asian mothers of non-Dragon year children. This suggests that belief in the greater superiority of Dragon-year children is self-fulfilling since the demographic characteristics associated with parents who are more willing and able to adjust their birthing strategies to have Dragon children are also correlated with greater investment in their human capital.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BLS Career Opportunities

The Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Open House
Friday September 17th from 10am-3pm

2 Massachusetts Ave NE. Washington, DC 20212
For more information on employment with the BLS, please visit:

BLS will be holding a one day Open House on Friday September 17th. Topics to be discussed include:
BLS Mission – Who we are and what we do
Careers at BLS – Econ, Math, Statistics, IT
Federal Hiring Process

In addition, staff will be on hand to review and accept resumes, and offer advice for job seekers.

RSVP encouraged, but not required

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Department Seminar, Wednesday September 15

Tomorrow (Wednesday, September 15), Eric Verhoogen of Columbia University will present his work studying the relationship between exports and wage premia for Mexican workers. Prof. Verhoogen's research addresses questions in development and trade and is part of a broader literature that is taking the study of trade beyond frictionless "neoclassical" models. An abstract of the paper is below.

All department seminars are held in Kreeger 101 from 12:00-1:15. Please join us for this exciting opportunity.


This paper draws on a new combination of employer-employee and plant-level data from Mexico to investigate the relationship between exports and wage premia, defined as wages above what workers would receive elsewhere in the labor market. We first use detailed information on individual workers' wage histories to decompose plant-level average wages into a component reflecting skill composition and a component reflecting wage premia. Our estimating procedure allows for changes in the return to ability and feedback from current idiosyncratic shocks to future mobility. We then use the peso devaluation of late 1994, which we argue generated an exogenous differential inducement to export within industries, to estimate the eect of export incentives on the two components. Comparing across plants within industries, we find that approximately two-thirds of the higher level of wages in larger, more productive plants is explained by higher levels of wage premia, and that nearly all of the differential within-industry wage change due to the export shock is explained by changes in wage premia. The findings argue against the hypothesis that sorting on individual ability is solely responsible for the well-documented correlation between exporting and wages.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Department of Economics MA Representative

The Department of Economics is looking for a MA student representative for the Department Council. Responsibilities include attending Department Council meetings (approximately one per month, Wednesday mornings). Let me know if you are interested.

National Economists Club on Campus!

This will be a great event!

Omicron Delta Epsilon,
The Economics Honor Society
The Economics Graduate Student Union
The Department of Economics
are pleased to host
The National Economists Club on Campus

For a forum on the
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010
Mike Konczal, Fellow, Roosevelt Institute
Mark Calabira, Policy Scholar, Cato Institute

When: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 6:00pm
Where: Capital Auditorium, Tenley Campus (4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW)
Light Refreshments Will Be Served


Welcome to the Resources for MA Students in Economics--the blog designed to update MA students at American University with both program informationand information about department and university events, internship and career opportunities, and other opportunities of interest to MA students. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments at

Kara Reynolds
MA Program Advisor