deptofecon

Spring 2018

A message from the chair

Greetings from the BGSU Econ Department! While the past year has been calmer than the last few years, there have been some significant events:

  • We have added two new courses to our curriculum – Health Economics and Behavioral Economics. Check out their descriptions in this newsletter, and try not to be too disappointed that we didn’t have them when you were here!
  • We successfully hired one new tenure-track professor – Dr. Ren Zhang. He adds to our macroeconomics / financial econ expertise; see his profile below.
  • We continue to be engaged with young students (Econopalooza!), our majors (Econ Club) and with other scholars (Colloquia).
  • The funding for our new scholarships (Benedict Research and Board of Advocates Financial Need) continues to grow, but could always use more funds. Look for a mailing in the coming months for your opportunity to contribute.

Additionally this newsletter includes some updates on what some notable alumni and previous department chairs of the department are up to, along with a few other tidbits. If you would like to give us some feedback on the department, or if you have any news that you would like to share, please feel free to contact me at pvander@bgsu.edu.

Peter-VanderHart600x750

Peter G. VanderHart, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor
Department of Economics

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Fall 2017 - Left to right: Hugo Vaca Pereira Rocha, Dr. Peter VanderHart, Dr. Zheng Zeng, Nana Yaw Adjei-Frimpong, Niket Agarwal, Erik Dupont.
 

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Masters of Financial Economics Graduates

Left to right: Gohar Minasyan, Zsofia Arvia, a non-student, Mary Caufield (Dr. Hoag’s wife), John Hoag, John Stevens, and Nasiba Imaralieva. Nasiba is pursuing another master’s degree at Columbia.

Student Update - 2017/2018 Star Students

Congratulations ODE Inductees 

The Economics Department inducted several new members into Omicron Delta Epsilon, the Economics Honorary Society.

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Spring 2017: Giannina Celis, Mina Milovic, Jacob Dillon 

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Fall 2017: John Ryan

    

Student Achievements and Awards

At the fall 2017 Honors and Awards Banquet, several economics students won department and college awards: 

  • Mark Richards won the Alumni/Faculty Economics Scholarship
  • Nick Yeager won the Bartley Brennan Memorial Scholarship
  • Kendall Newcomer won the Paul Haas Economics Scholarship
  • Luke Marcus won the John and Arleen Hoag Economics Scholarship
  • Jacob Dillon and Kyle Lepore won the Amena Khatun Economics Scholarship
  • Emily Gunner won the Navin Scholarship for Public Sector Economics
  • Kelsey Weaver and Presley Weaver won the Dolores Reynolds Book Award
  • Mark Richards won the James and Mary Kovac Scholarship
  • Nick Yeager won an Owens Illinois College of Business Administration Scholarship, the Alyce and Michael King Scherzer Memorial Scholarship, and the Geoffrey and Linda Radbill Scholarship in Accounting
  • Kendall Newcomer won a Construction Financial Management Association Scholarship
  • Nicole Klender won the IRMI Member Scholarship-Mass Mutual
  • Hervin Singh won the Wood County Insurance Agency Scholarship
  • Angela Perry-Hudson won a John Deere Scholarship
  • Katherine Przybylski won the Honda of America Scholarship
  • Erin Fahey won the Karl and Joan Vogt Award
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Left to right: Nick Yeager, Kendall Newcomer, Luke Marcus

Econopalooza

Econopalooza1On August 26, 2017, the Department of Economics held its first Econopalooza. Fifty-four first year students came to eat food, collect information about the majors offered by the department, meet BGSU economics faculty and participate in experiments and economics games.

The first experiment was a test of altruism. Participants were given some quarters and told that they could either keep the money or privately donate some portion of it to a "public good." This public good would return a value greater than the total amount contributed, and this value would be divided evenly among the participants - whether or not they had contributed anything to the public good. 

The second experiment simulated a double oral auction, with students role-playing as buyers and sellers. Their efforts to find mutually agreeable prices and trading partners by calling out bids, asks and acceptances made for an exciting scene. It was a memorable moment when an enthusiastic trader made an impassioned plea to her fellow-sellers not to allow the price to sink so low!

Next, the students' estimation skills were tested in a common value auction experiment. Each participant had the opportunity to guess the cash value of a jar filled with pennies. They then had to bid against one another for the jar in a sealed-bid auction. The results of these auctions illustrated what is known as the winner's curse: the “winner” of the auction is the person who was most optimistic (and therefore probably overly optimistic), and ends up paying more than the prize is worth.Econopalooza4

The final activity was the centipede game. Each pair of participating students passed a cup back and forth, watching the amount of cash in the cup steadily increase. On his or her turn, each student had a choice to make: take the cash and end the game, or return the cup to the center, where one of two things could happen: either a dollar would be added to the cup and the cup passed to the other player (who faces the same decision), or with a small probability (a specific card being drawn from a deck of cards) the cup of cash would be taken away and the game would end with neither player getting any money.

The game theorists' prediction for the centipede game is that the first player will take the cash and end the game at the first opportunity. However, students repeated the game for many rounds (as is often the case in laboratory experiments). Students expressed anxiety over the risk that the wrong playing card would cause them to lose the cash that was building between them, and guilt over taking the entire prize for themselves. This hands-on activity made for a vivid illustration of strategy and decision-making.

 

Two new Economics courses developed that will enhance the education of our Economics majors:

Econ 3050 Behavioral Economics

Are you unsatisfied with the picture of the rational man presented in most traditional economics courses? Do you constantly find yourself thinking about exceptions to the rule and the inadequacies of the standard model? Behavioral economics makes adjustments for how people act in the real world, outside of the theoretical classroom, and extends the traditional model of homo economicus to make it more accurate to what we see every day. Our students won’t just study how people are irrational – they’ll conduct experiments, large and small – to prove it! This new course, developed and taught by Katharine Sobota, will deliver if you’re interested in a bigger, more holistic view of the individual. Behavioral economics will also add in information from other key fields such as psychology to build this more accurate image of the average individual.

Econ 4250 Health Economics

Wonder how health insurance works? Or how hospitals and doctors get paid for treating patients? Or what is going on with new health care policy in the USA? Our students will learn these very important things when they take Health Economics, a new course created and taught by Amanda Cook. This course is an advanced undergraduate/masters course on the economics of health care provision and payment. In addition to being one of the most important “goods” consumed in our lives, health care spending accounts for approximately 20% of GDP in the United States. How we choose to provide and pay for health care has large direct welfare impacts on the consumers and producers of health care nationwide while also being key ingredients into overall national economic performance. In this course, we look at ways doctors and hospitals are compensated, how insurance functions and how it changes individuals' choices of how much care to consume, and examines recent health policy, including the ACA. We also look beyond the US to other health systems to analyze and assess trade offs between heath, wealth, and equity. This course is a combination of economic theory and public policy application.

Econ Club update

Over the past year, the Economics Club has continued to bring together students interested in economics with speakers from business, finance, government, and academia. Our first meeting of the current academic year was very well-attended, drawing a number of new students. We discussed plans for the upcoming year and were entertained with a few rounds of "Economics Balderdash," inventing definitions for obscure economics terms. Recent speakers include Dr. Andrew Stocking, who described his experiences working for the Congressional Budget Office and the EPA, and Dr. Pete Vanderhart, who shared his work on cost-benefit analyses of wind turbines. In addition, Michael Slates, an instructor in the Department of Finance who spent several years in banking, spoke about the finance industry leading into the 2008-2009 financial crisis. Lastly, Katie Sobota spoke to the club about behavioral economics in preparation for the seminar course she's teaching in the spring on the same topic.

The Economics Club looks forward to hearing from more speakers in the coming semester. The Economics Club also hopes to cultivate relationships with employers of economics graduates, and to raise funds for a trip in Spring 2018.

Faculty Update

RenZhang
AmandaCook

   

Colloquium Series   

  • October 31, 2016:  James Bland, assistant professor of economics, University of Toledo, presented “Mixture Models of Behavior and Nuisance Parameters:  a Semi-Parametric Bayesian Approach.”  
  • October 31, 2016:  Amanda Cook, assistant professor of economics, BGSU, presented “Hospital-Insurer Bargaining Power and Negotiated Rates.” 
  • November 10, 2016:  Kan Yue, Ph.D. candidate, Purdue University, presented “Estimating Import Quality:  Do Countries Agree on Rankings?” 
  • March 16, 2017:  Jacklyn Buhrmann, Ph.D. candidate, Purdue University, presented “Good Enough Jobs:  Skill Mismatch and Two-Sided Heterogeneity in Frictional Labor Markets.”  
  • March 30, 2017:  Rhet Smith, Ph.D. candidate, University of Georgia, presented “The Effects of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries on Treatments for Narcotic Abuse and Drug-related Mortalities.”
  • April 13, 2017:  Samuel Enajero, former instructor of economics, BGSU, presented “The Efficiency Effects of Local Taxes and Zoning in a Model with Labor-Leisure Choice:  Revisiting the Slutsky Equation.”
  • April 13, 2017:  Rachel Shafer, assistant professor of economics, BGSU, presented “Regret Minimizers in Common Value Auctions.” 
  • September 28, 2017:  Kendall Kennedy, Ph.D. candidate, Purdue University, presented “Hidden Schooling:  Ninth Grade Repeating and the Returns to Education and Experience.”

   

Reconnect with Faculty

If you want to reconnect with one of your favorite professors, feel free to send an email. We would love to hear from you.

     

Recently retired faculty:

Alumni Updates

Burke Badenhop

Burke Badenhop, baseball analyst extraordinaire

by Mary Ellen Benedict

I can still recall the day when soon-to-be graduate Burke Badenhop came into my office with a dilemma. He already had a job offer from Glasko Smith Kline (GSK), but was also thinking about playing professional baseball if he was drafted by a team that coming June. Burke was a talented pitcher for BGSU’s baseball team and a talented economics major. One path had security; the other was much riskier. I doubt that our conversation had much to do with his final decision, but  it was a pleasure to tell people that I knew a major league ballplayer in the ensuing years.

Burke played at several minor league levels for Detroit before being traded to the Florida Marlins. He played one game in the Marlins minors before being promoted to the major leagues, making his debut in April 2008. He moved around a bit in the majors before ending his pro-playing in 2016. During that time, Burke always had an interest in pitch data, using the information to improve his own pitching. His degree and his talent for looking at numbers led to his current career with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Burke attributes his BGSU economics degree to at least some of his success:

“My economics degree definitely set me apart as a professional athlete.  A lot of guys I played with had gone to college, but very few graduated, let alone graduated with honors.  It was often a topic of conversation among reporters.  My econ degree also feeds into my current job in that I’m tasked with taking quantitative research and explaining it qualitatively to players/scouts.”  

In his first year with the Diamondbacks, Burke was a baseball operations analyst, a position created for him. His solid work led to a promotion as special assistant to the GM (General Manager), where he provides inputs on a variety of decisions for the club. Burke’s analytics mainly pertains to pitch tracking systems. The pitch tracking systems at major and minor league parks, and sometimes collegiate teams, have the ability to track the exact velocity, trajectory, spin, spin axis, release point, and horizontal/vertical movement of a pitch. The analysis is used to scout potential players and improve Diamondback performance. Burke also collaborates on other projects with the Research and Development team, and he is often charged with explaining the analytics to the current players in language they can understand. He has been featured in several news articles about the analytics movement in baseball.  He even has his own Wikipedia page and his picture sells on Amazon!

Although Burke’s work is in Arizona, he resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, with wife Sara, and children, four-year-old Emily and one-year-old Bryce. He travels for work about once a month, but is able to do much of his data analysis from home. His parents still reside in Perrysburg, and Sara’s folks are in the Detroit area - one reason for the East Coast location.  

I always thought Burke made the right decision as a senior. I was amazed at his work in my econometrics class, he was so smart, but I also knew baseball was his path. Burke followed and lived a dream, and now uses both his analytical and baseball talents in a career that seems to be a perfect fit.

 

 If you're an alum, let us know what you're up to!

  • Ben Zauski (MA, 2016) – Just started a new career in credit risk modeling at State Street Bank & Trust Co., Boston, MA.
  • Maureen (Cosgrove) Barber (BS, 2009) - Met her husband (Andrew Barber from Cincinnati) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. They were married on September 23, 2017 in Pittsburgh, and both work at law firms downtown. Maureen works for Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote.  She and her husband have a house and two beautiful golden retrievers.
  • Daniel Vielhaber (MA, 2011) - Manager of Health Economics and Policy at The Ohio Hospital Association, University of Tennessee, Columbus, Ohio.  He and his wife, Abbey, have two children, daughter Clara Rose who was born on August 12, 2017, and son, Jack who is two.  
  • Greg Cornish (MA, 2012) - Commercial Finance Supervisor at Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, Findlay, Ohio.  Greg and his wife, Emily, are pleased to share that they welcomed their first son Will Alan Cornish on October 20, 2017.
  • Burke Badenhop (BSBA, 2005) – Baseball Operations Analyst/Special Assistant to the General Manager, for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Burke and his wife live in Charlotte, NC, where they have lived since 2008.  They have two children Emily (4) and Bryce (1).  (See article in newsletter for more interesting info on Burke.)
  • Timothy Bianco (MA, 2009) - Ph.D. Candidate at University of Kentucky.  Tim and his wife, Victoria (also  a BGSU alum), live in Lexington, KY and have three beautiful children with their newest edition, Ella Grace, born May 21, 2017.
  • Amanda Stype (MA, 2010) – Assistant Professor at Eastern Michigan University.
  • Zac Bartman (MA, 2017) - Data Scientist - Analytics & Data Science at The J.M. Smucker Company, Mansfield, OH.  He is living in Wooster, Ohio and is marrying his high school sweetheart, Kristen Moyer, in August.  Congratulations Zac and Kristen!
  • James Oche (MA, 2004) - Started in September 2017 at PNC as a Model Risk Audit Director; was Head of Model Risk Governance at Citizens Bank prior (2014 to Sept 2017).
  • Sara Esfahani (MA, 2012) Sara married her boyfriend of 7 years, Ali, on July 2, 2017. She is currently working on her PhD at Notre Dame University and will be defending in the Spring semester.  She is currently on the job market.

Retirees' Updates

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Mary Ellen Benedict, former chair and member of the Department of Economics, retired two years ago. She returned twice to teach the Introduction to Econometrics course but now resides permanently in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mary Ellen has kept busy, connecting with old friends, enjoying her visits to local historical sites, helping with the local food bank and remodeling her home (built by her grandfather in 1918). Since last spring, Mary Ellen has taught economics courses for Heinz College and Carnegie Mellon University, and she plans to do so again this spring. She also is taking classes at Phipps Conservatory on sustainable plant management, and she enjoys wine tastings with husband Lou, as well as taking care of her dogs and cats. Her one piece of advice is: retire when you can, it’s great!

John Hoag is happy to announce he got married in August, 2017 and moved to Washington, D.C. He and his wife, Mary, enjoy a beautiful view of the Potomac River from their home. They both enjoy traveling and have gone to such places as Istanbul, Paris, Croatia and Vienna, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Vancouver, Spain, Portugal and of course several states in the U.S. He has had the pleasure of seeing several alumni from BGSU’s master’s in economics program as they are working in DC.

John's upcoming plans include travels to Vietnam, Ireland and Italy, as well as a possible cruise in a small boat along the Turkish coast. He invites you to contact him the next time you are in Washington, D.C., but realize that his travels mean he may not be home!

     

Obituary 

Dr. Timothy S. Fuerst died on February 21, 2017. Tim received his Ph.D. in Economics in 1990 from the University of Chicago. For 19 years, Tim was an economics professor at BGSU as well as a senior economic advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. He was awarded the title of Distinguished Research Professor at BGSU in February 2012. In July 2012, Dr. Fuerst received an unexpected job offer. He accepted a position at the University of Notre Dame as the William and Dorothy O’Neill Professor of Economics. Tim and his wife Toni, had four children: Megan, Nathan, Kate and Ben. He loved Tolkien, teaching and was an avid whistler. Tim’s scholarly contributions to the study of monetary policy and business cycles led him to be one of the most-cited economists in the world.