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Nicholas Jolly will joint the faculty of the economics department at Marquette University in a tenure track position in the Fall of 2012.  Nick’s work focuses on issues related to the experiences of displaced workers as well as the impact of the onset of health problems on subsequent labor market activity.  His work has been published in numerous journals including Industrial Relations, Economics Letters and Contemporary Economic Policy.  He was the recipient of the Ribicoff and Waugh Fellowships as a graduate student at UConn.  Nick has been employed at Central Michigan University prior to joining Marquette.  He completed his PhD in 2008 working with a committee consisting of Ken Couch, Delia Furtado and Gautam Tripathi.

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Professor Tom Miceli presented a lecture on “The Economics of Professional Sports” to the UConn Alumni Association of Greater Hartford on Tuesday, February 7, at Rentschler Field.  The motivation for the talk was the recent movie Moneyball, which described how the Oakland Athletics used computer technology to assemble a winning team using players who had been overlooked by other teams.  Professor Miceli described how the labor market for professional baseball players works, and how the Athletics were able to identify and sign players who had been undervalued by the market.  He also pointed out that this innovation only provided the Athletics a temporary advantage because other teams quickly copied their strategy by hiring their own computer analysts.  In fact, Professor Miceli argued that the quick diffusion of new ideas—like the use of computers or the signing of international players—is desirable from the league’s perspective because it prevents teams from gaining a long-term advantage, which would undermine the goal of maintaining competitive balance.

In what may be described as an academic marathon, Professor Subhash Ray offered back-to-back workshops on the nonparametric method of performance evaluation known as Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) in three different institutions in India during January 2-9, 2012.

He started off at Indian Institute of Management, Ranchi (the youngest member of the prestigious IIM family) where he taught the basics of DEA for the MBA students.

From there he moved on to the Institute of Rural Management, Anand, and held a workshop there for two days.

The final leg of his tour took him to Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the central bank of the country, in Mumbai (known previously as Bombay). There he delivered an invited lecture at the Head Office of RBI on the measurement of productivity in banks, and offered an assessment of the impact of liberalization in the Indian banking industry comparing the performance of public sector, private, and foreign commercial banks. Apart from the lecture, he offered two days of hands-on instruction on how to measure efficiency to a group of young officers at the Economics and Statistics Division of RBI.

Professor Ray started teaching DEA in India in 2001 when he visited the Indian Institutes of Management in Calcutta and Ahmadabadas a Fulbright lecturer. Over the subsequent years he has held workshops all over the country at many leading universities and research institutions. Right before his latest visit to India, he was invited by two different academic institutions in India in November 2011 to deliver a keynote address at an international conference on economic and business analysis at Dayalbagh Educational Institute in Agra, and to present a paper on the impact of liberalization on Indian banking at a conference held by the department of WTO studies at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade in Delhi.

Prof. Oskar Harmon, with his co-authors Dan Mercier (Director ITL, UConn), Betsy Guala & Margaret Brown (Media Developers, IDD, UConn) and Craig Burdick (Webmaster, UConn) had their paper “Graph Tool” published in the Spring 2012 issue of the Journal of Economic Education (JEE).  The JEE is a leading journal in the field of economic education and publishes articles on topics in teaching economics.  Prof. Harmon’s article is included in the section of the journal dedicated to innovative electronic technology. 

Prof. Harmon and his co-authors developed a flash-based tool to quickly draw diagrams commonly taught in principles of economics courses.  The article presents several examples illustrating how the tool can be used.

Economics students, what can you do to protect yourselves against jokes such as the classic, “You could lay all the economists in the U.S. end to end and they still wouldn’t reach a conclusion?” or, “How many economists does it take to fail to change a light bulb?–Just three.  One to detect a faint glow in the bulb and forecast a stronger glow in the next quarter; one to advise the President that the bulb is too hot to touch at the present time and will remain so in the forseeable future; and one to write a grant proposal for a study of the effect of darkness on productivity.”

How can you answer such scurrilous slanders?  By arming yourselves with examples of economic theory’s successes, from the well-designed and profitable government auctions of the air waves to the lesser-known empirical study by Mark Walker and John Wooders showing that, in the serve and return game, pro tennis players play mixed strategy equilibria.  Dozens of examples available in Storrs (in your classes)–don’t leave home without them.

Best of Luck!

Vicki Knoblauch
Professor of Economics

PS  Faculty, Students and Members of the UConn economics community:  please send news you would like to share on our blog to Kasey.Kniffin@uconn.edu .

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