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The building currently housing the Economics and Political Science departments, named for Henry R. Monteith, has been slated for replacement for many years. The building was erected in the 1950’s and was supposed to last twenty years, to accomodate the temporary increase in enrollments due to the GI Bill. Along with its twin, Arjona, it house five departments and 40 classrooms. Both buildings have structural issues, lack of energy efficiency, leaking roofs and an internal design that mixes classrooms and offices and creates a noisy environment.

Arjona and Monteith will be replaced by two buildings. The first, “West,” will be a pure classroom building with 17 classrooms and two large lecture halls of 200 and 400 seats. It will also feature a three story atrium. West will be located on the grounds of the former Pharmacy building, between the Student Union and the CUE building. A groundbreaking ceremony has now been scheduled for December 3, with construction set to complete in March 2011. Construction on the second building, “East,” should start right after this completion on the grounds of the old Co-op, between the Babbidge Library and the Hawley Armory. East will feature 18 classrooms, a 200-seat lecture hall and offices for five academic departments. East should be inaugurated in the Spring of 2013.

When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke speaks about economic issues, the nation listens. But who does Bernanke listen to?

One person on the short list is David J. Stockton ’76 B.A., ’76 M.A., who speaks almost daily with Bernanke in his role as chief economist for the Fed, the agency that directs the nation’s central bank, establishes national monetary policy and monitors the country’s economic health.

As director of the Federal Reserve’s Division of Research and Statistics, Stockton oversees one of the world’s largest economic research teams – approximately 290 economists, financial analysts, computer scientists, research assistants and other personnel. Stockton and his staff sort through and interpret information streaming from the country’s financial markets each day. One of Stockton’s primary responsibilities is presenting periodic economic forecasts to the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) on job losses, housing wealth and business spending. These reports help to determine how much you pay in interest on your credit card and how much banks may charge you for taking out home or auto loans.

Read more in the UConn Alumni Magazine.

I’ve been asked to let you know what’s been going on since I left the Department. This is the first in what may turn out to be occasional “where-are-they-now” entries from emeritus professors. If you have read this UConn Econ Blog much, you know it’s usually written in the third person (it’s not so much a blog as a bulletin board). Writing in the third person is good for keeping up with those who don’t want to toot their own horn (or who don’t want to appear to be tooting their own horn). But the first person works better for me.

Even though I taught more than ten thousand students at UConn and worked alongside more than one hundred TAs, I am probably a stranger to current students. So please bear with me through this one paragraph of background. In 1973 Dennis Heffley and I joined the faculty. Bill Lott had already been on board three years. In 1981, I was appointed the Department’s first official Director of Graduate Studies. One promising graduate applicant at the time was a Wesleyan student named Thomas Miceli. He turned down our fellowship offer, choosing Brown instead. (Mmmm…I wonder what ever happened to him?) I regularly taught the graduate course in State and Local Finance. Students taking that course included Rex Santerre, now a UConn finance professor, John DeStefano, now New Haven’s long-serving mayor, Barry Feldman, now UConn’s VP and COO, and David Stockton, now head of research for the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, where he oversees a dozen divisions and more than a hundred Ph.D.s. Along the way, I also received the UConn Alumni Association’s Distinguished Public Service Award and later its Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.

I decided to retire from UConn after my wife left me. But let’s back up a bit. In the late 1990s, Pat had a wonderful opportunity to run Aetna’s Hong Kong insurance business, an operation with thousands of employees and some interesting challenges in light of Hong Kong’s reversion from Great Britain to China. But I was then in the middle of several projects and couldn’t leave. So we agreed that she would move to Hong Kong, I would remain in Connecticut, and we would have a commuter marriage.

One good thing about living twelve time zones apart is that we could meet at either end or anywhere in between. Besides reunions in Hong Kong and Connecticut, we got together in Orlando, Las Vegas, Phoenix, London, and Tokyo. But all that jet-setting gets old fast when you want to be together (parting may be “sweet sorrow,” but it’s still parting and still sad). So in 2000, I decided to take early retirement to join Pat in Hong Kong. It wasn’t that I disliked my teaching, my research, my students, or my colleagues. We just wanted to be together.

We lived in a high rise on Hong Kong Island, within walking distance to just about everything (the only thing within walking distance of our Willington home was the mail box, and that was some walk). One opportunity turned into another for Pat, and she joined Sun Life Insurance as head of investments for its Asia operations. She was based in Hong Kong and responsible for company investments there as well as Mainland China, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines (all developing economies, to be sure, but they comprise more than a third of the world’s population). She traveled a lot to those countries on business, and together we traveled for fun to Mainland China, Taiwan, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Japan. We also flew to Egypt and cruised down the Nile.

Hong Kong was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but the longer we were away, the more we missed America, especially the clearer air (pollution poured into Hong Kong from factories in Southern China). So after Pat had spent about six years in Hong Kong (and I, about four and a half), we decided to return to the United States. But where to live? Our Hong Kong experience framed that choice—warm climate, high-rise living, and within walking distance of most activities. Because Pat, who grew up in Arizona, had spent nearly three decades braving New England winters with me, we decided on a warmer climate in general and on Phoenix in particular. We returned to the U.S. in 2007 and now live on the 12th floor of a high-rise condominium in the Biltmore area of Phoenix.

We love it here. I’m attaching a photo taken just as we were leaving for Starbucks, which is only a hundred yards away. Sure the summers are hot, but that’s a good time to travel, and the low humidity makes it more hospitable for us than in Hong Kong, which at times could be really oppressive. Again, it’s all framing. We still run for an hour six mornings a week and try to stay in working order.

Pat is now on what she calls a “career break,” and she enjoys the free time. Since leaving UConn, I revised my principles of economics textbook for seventh and eighth editions and am now beginning a ninth. I continue writing The Teaching Economist, my newsletter for college teachers, and I’ve managed to publish some other research. Also, my National Tax Journal piece on the median-voter model was selected for inclusion in the edited volume Public Choice Economics published by the University of Michigan Press (others in that volume include some heroes of mine—Mancur Olson, Ray Fair, Avinash Dixit & Barry Nalebuff, Gordon Tullock, James Buchanan, and Dennis Mueller).

My principles textbook has been translated into Chinese, Bahasa Indonesia, and Spanish (twice), and an Australian adaptation is in its third edition. Micro and Macro versions of the book were also selected as the economics principles entries for Cengage Learning’s Four Letter Press series (they had a dozen principles books to choose from). I worked on those adaptations, which just appeared in second editions as ECON Micro 2 and ECON Macro 2. Finally, shortly after I left UConn, I was asked to write a principles textbook for high school students; I did that and later revised the book for a second edition; a third edition is scheduled for 2011.

I try to keep in touch with colleagues and former students, but I could do a lot better. I’d be glad to hear from you at william.mceachern@uconn.edu. Also look for Pat and me at the January ASSA meetings in Atlanta.

What an interesting time to be an economist!

Professor Daniel Landau has announced that he will be retiring from the Department of Economics at the University of Connecticut’s Waterbury Campus on January 1, 2010 after twenty eight and half years of service at the University of Connecticut. Dan joined the Department as an Assistant Professor in 1981 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1989. Dan toiled alone as the lone economist at the Waterbury Campus. Although sequestered at there, Dan was a frequent participant in Department seminars and meetings at the University’s Storrs campus during his early years with the University.

Dan began his education with a B.A. from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and received his doctoral degree in economics from the University of Chicago in 1974. Following his graduation, Dan accepted an Assistant Professorship at Haifa University in Israel where he served until 1979. The following two years saw Dan serve as an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto before moving to the University of Connecticut in 1981. From 1982 to 1985, Dan was also a Visiting Research Associate in Yale University’s Economic Growth Center.

During his career, Dan was a productive researcher who left his mark on the profession. He published five books and monographs during years from 1974 to 2009. He was also the author of 20 professional journal articles. His articles appeared in such journals as Economic Development & Cultural Change, Quarterly Review of Economics & Finance, World Development, Public Choice and History of Political Economy. Dan was also the author or coauthor of three technical Reports.

Dan will be missed by the Department and thousands of students who benefited from his knowledge during his tenure with the University of Connecticut at Waterbury. The Department wishes him good health, pleasant times and fond memories during his retirement from the University.

Recent research by Prof. Kenneth Couch, previously presented on this blog has been featured today in an article of the Wall Street Journal. This work, written with Nicholas Jolly (MA, PhD) and Dana Placzek, shows that workers who have lost their jobs in mass layoffs suffer from significant wage losses in subsequent jobs, losses that can persist for years. The immediate drop amounts to 18% on average in a recession, leading to significant reductions in household welfare.

This story has subsequently been picked up by CNN.

Robert E. Lucas, Jr., the 1995 Economics Nobel Laureate, will be visiting the UConn campus this Friday. After a meeting with graduate students, he will speak at 11:00am at the Konover Auditorium (Thomas J. Dodd Research Center) on the topic of “Trade and the Diffusion of the Industrial Revolution.” Everyone is welcome to attend the lecture.

Robert Lucas is the John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and a pioneer in macroeconomics. His visit is part of the Distinguished Speaker Series organized by the Association of Graduate Economics Students (AGES). Previous editions have featured 2004 Nobel Prize laureate Finn Kydland, Ariel Rubinstein, Greg Mankiw and Karl Case.

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.

Economics, like most disciplines, has become highly specialized, so it is not surprising that many economists focus their research on a narrow range of topics or issues. Not so for one of our Ph.D. alumni, Donald Vandegrift (IDEAS).

Don completed his doctorate in 1993 under the tutelage of Prof. Richard Langlois. Apparently Dick’s interest in a wide range of topics in the field of industrial organization rubbed off on Don, who currently serves as Chair of the Department of Economics in the School of Business at The College of New Jersey.

Over the years, Don has published papers on performance excuse under contracts (European Journal of Law and Economics, 1997), asset specificity (Eastern Economic Journal, 1998), energy use (Journal of Energy and Development, 1999), product warranty (Contemporary Economic Policy, 2001), risky strategies in “tournament competition” (Labour Economics, 2003), obesity rates (Health & Place, 2004), gender differences in competitive strategies (Journal of Socio-Economics, 2005), prescription drug spending (Southern Economic Journal, 2006), incentive effects in experimental settings (Experimental Economics, 2007), and hedge fund performance (Journal of Derivatives and Hedge Funds, 2009).

Don’s forthcoming work continues to reflect his exceptional versatility. A paper on hedge fund performance will soon appear in the Journal of Derivatives and Hedge Funds; his experimental analysis of differences in competitive behavior between men and women is slated for publication by the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization; a study of sabotage in tournaments has been accepted by the Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics; and the Annals of Regional Science will publish a paper on linkages between open space, house prices, and the local property tax base.

It is great to see our former students enjoying their work and sharing it with others. Don spoke at our on-campus 2008 Economics Reunion and Forum, and we are hoping that he will be back in Storrs next spring, when we repeat this successful event. Don and other former grad students presented research papers, participated in job-experience panels, met our current students and newer faculty, and reconnected with old friends and fellow alums. We will be posting plans for the next event, but it is clear that even in his current administrative role as Department Chair, Don has continued his lively line(s) of research and will have little problem coming up with a new paper for the 2010 reunion.

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