You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2011.

Prof. Kenneth Couch has renewed his annual research contract with the Social Security Administration to conduct joint studies on Unexpected Lifecycle Events.  This work focuses on a variety of unexpected lifecycle events on short and long-term economic well being.  One line of research considers the impact of recessions on short and long-term economic well being along with preparedness for retirement.  Other topics, such as the impact of changes in family structure on economic well-being and preparedness for retirement, are also being examined as part of the research.  The contract allows Professor Couch to travel to Washington, DC regularly to work with researchers within the Social Security Administration on these projects.


On Tuesday, May 17, 2011, in the atrium of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine/Dentistry, Governor Malloy announced a $900 million investment to transform the Schools into an international leader in biomedical research, an investment that will generate more than nearly 3,000 construction jobs in the near term and 16,000 new jobs by 2037. Critically, the investment will generate sustained economic growth that delivers so much net new tax revenue to the state that the bonding is entirely self-financing–with a large revenue bonus for the state.  The Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis provided the dynamic (REMI) economic analysis on with the Governor relied.  Prof. Fred Carstensen, Director of CCEA, attended the event and provided both electronic and print media backup explanations of the details on the economic analysis.  The Center currently employs three department graduate students and two more are participating in its summer work.

Today (Friday, May 20) the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis released its quarterly OUTLOOK, a forecast of Connecticut’s output and employment for the next ten quarters.  “Bucking Stiff Headwinds” is modestly more optimistic, but notes the array of downside risks for the state’s economy, everything from the ending of $6.3 billion in stimulus over the last two years to the anemic national recovery, European sovereign debt turmoil, and the difficulty of capturing jobs in the face of a globalized economy.

The CCEA Outllook: Bucking Stiff Headwinds, is available at

CCEA is directed by Prof. Fred Carstensen, and currently engages five graduate students in its studies.

Xiaoming Li defended his PhD dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Ross on Monday, April 25, 2011.

Theoretical models and empirical analyses argue that mortgage underwriting is a dynamic process in which previous mortgage and housing market conditions affect current mortgage approvals. Neighborhoods likely differ in important ways and over important events or shocks that influence both housing prices and mortgage underwriting decisions. This potential endogeneity complicates the causal analyses and failure to control for neighborhood heterogeneity risks confounding spurious and true state dependence. Xiaoming’s dissertation attempts to examine the housing dynamics and distinguish between sources of time persistence on neighborhood mortgage underwriting. Specifically, Xiaoming extends traditional and recently developed dynamic panel data techniques for use of repeated, clustered cross-sectional individual mortgage applications linearly and nonlinearly, respectively.

Xiaoming now heads to Freddie Mac as a Credit & Prepayment Modeling, Senior. We wish him the best of luck!

Last week, Prof. Fred Carstensen participated in the external evaluation of the School of Economics at the University of Maine.  The U.S.Department of Agricultural assembled the four member team, drawing on faculty from Boston University, Washington State University, Clark University, and UConn.  The team reviewed voluminous written materials, including an extensive self-study, and then spent two and half days in intensive interviews with all administrators who engaged with the SOE in any capacity as well as the senior administrators of the University. Friday morning the team delivered an oral summary of their draft report to the Provost and Vice Presidents, the Dean and Associate Deans, and the School faculty.

The School of Economics at the University of Maine, in the team’s judgement, is a remarkably highly productive department, engaged in a remarkably wide array of scholarship, with a very strong record in external funding.  The most notable were the three-year $1.8 million EDA grant to support a Knowledge Transfer Initiative, aimed to helping small and medium size businesses resolve critical challenges from technical production and design issues to marketing and personnel questions, and the five-year $20 million NSF grant (largest in University history) to support a comprehensive, state-wide Sustainable Communities initiative.  In both grants, SOE faculty have leading roles.  The School, with only seventeen faculty, supports a vigorous and nationally recognized Master’s program and participates in two multi-disciplinary doctoral programs.  Notably, each faculty member negotiates the distribution of their time between research and teaching; the merit evaluation then follows from that contracted work load.  Thus teaching varies from 3-3 loads down to 1-0, and, because of the balanced treatment of teaching and research, the SOE faculty enjoyed high morale and collegiality. And senior administrators look to SOE as a model for other departments and schools.

Members of the evaluation team all planned to bring elements of the SOE model back to their home universities.

On Thursday, April 28, the Undergraduate Academic Affairs committee of the UConn Undergraduate Student Government hosted its annual banquet to recognize Professional Excellence in Education among staff, advisers, and faculty at the University. The Committee received 26 nominations for the three categories of awards; based on these nominations, the Committee selected Professor of Economics Fred Carsensen as the Academic Educator of the Year. The student nomination cited his innovative and
challenging class on Contemporary Economic Issues: Globalization, and in particular his use of a “real time” textbook, the Financial Times. Students appreciate his discusion of current events, peppering in anecdotes and personal advice along the way. He also offers his students a rare level of academic freedom. This style encourages creativity and imagination, and his
students are always grateful, even if at first intimidated as they are whet they describe as “the audience to an improv