Feb 28, 2017
NEW PETER KENNEDY UNDERGRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP
Deven Azevedo is the first award winner for his top mark in ECON 305.
NEW GRAD PROFILES
Linda Chen and Cameron Young are taking on the world.
"Improving Equality of Opportunity: New Lessons from Big Data" with Dr Raj Chetty, Stanford economist.
News articles featuring economics alumni
Happy New Year!
We are extremely proud of our alumni such as Mahamudu Bawumia who was recently elected as the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana and Anne Giardini who was named to the Order of Canada. We hope you continue to share your good news with us.
One last piece of good news, our Department is ranked in the top five institutions in Canada for research. In addition to our BMO public lecture series, our research seminar series has in the past year hosted top economists from Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Northwestern, and Chicago, as well as all major Canadian universities.
I would like to thank David Jacks, who served as Department Chair for the past three years. His leadership in the Department has continued our steady course: engaging research, students, and our community.
Brian Krauth, Department Chair
Professor Robert Jones with his Corona Computer, one of the first PC computers in the 1980’s.
After 31 years, Professor Robert Jones is sailing into the sunset. Jones had an atypical career at SFU in the Department of Economics. With one foot in academia, and the other in industry, he weaved together both worlds for his teaching and research.
Arriving at SFU in 1985, he was welcomed by the faculty who were, as he remembered, “a feisty, colourful group, with lots of extremes of views represented from hard core Marxists to far right wing ones.” During this time, the department flourished with students benefitting from a diversity of fields and perspectives
Jones was brought in to teach macroeconomics but soon started a graduate course that had a huge impact, computational finance. As one of the few universities in the 1990’s that taught this specialization, Jones brought in problems from industry into the classroom.
As Jones spent half of his time working at Wells Fargo and then later on at Chubb Insurance, he would bring academic theory to business problems. And in turn, the cases he solved were complex and interesting. Jones recalled that Goldman Sachs wanted to buy market crash risk insurance against the S&P 500 index falling more than 25% in one day.
“It has never happened historically, The biggest was 22% in 1987 so they wanted this insurance, that would pay off if the S&P index fell by 25% in a day, applied to a 1 billion dollar portfolio and it would last ten years. Interesting problem!” He laughed.
Early access to these problems trained graduate students for the issues they would face in their professional lives. These students were getting a head start as these cases might be covered in academic journals, five year later.
“And in the late 1990's, when Wells Fargo, Management Science Department, did their recruiting they would interview MBAs specialized in finance from Berkley, Carnegie Mellon, Wharton Business School, University of Chicago, and MA students in economics from SFU. Those were the only ones they would waste their time interviewing.” He said proudly.
During his time at SFU, Jones supervised over 100 PhD and MA students. Their gifts, from scrolls, to a bright ash tray, and even an ornate beer stein decorated with wolves, are still on display in his office.
Jones was also the Graduate Chair and he also recruited talented students and helped place graduate students, while having some fun along the way. In 1999, he took a class of students on his boat. With 22 students on board his 45 foot long boat, they took a cozy day trip with a strange detour when they came across a half sunken boat in the middle of the Burrard Inlet.
Bailing out the unlucky sailor, they towed him as far as their rope lasted. When the rope broke, the sailor thanked Jones and his students and rowed towards Fisherman’s Cove in West Vancouver.
“All he wanted was a can of beer and two cigarettes. He was soaking wet. We lit the cigarettes and he stuck them behind his ear and he rowed onwards,” Jones laughed. Jones’ boat continued on to their original designation, Gambier Island, and they had a pleasant afternoon.
Jones is looking forward to many sailing trips in the future during his retirement. Although he promises to stop in the Department from time to time when he is not visiting all the beautiful islands around the world.
SFU alumnus Mahamudu Bawumia vows to change Ghana for the better as the Vice-President Elect of the Republic of Ghana. He and his political party, New Patriotic Party, were voted into office as the new majority government earlier this week.
Mahmood Khan, Bawumia's former PhD supervisor and SFU economics professor emeritus, says he is very proud of Bawumia's achievements.
“"I take pride in Dr. Bawumia's illustrious career and his achievements so far,” says Khan. “His success in the election, after almost 10 years of persistent efforts, is a reflection of his commitment to public service in his country.”
SFU Chancellor Anne Giardini and professor emerita Gloria Gutman, a pioneer in the field of gerontology, have both been named to the Order of Canada.
Recipients of the Order of Canada are recognized for exceptional contributions to Canada and humanity and “outstanding talent and service.”
As a double major in economics and environmental science, Deven Azevedo (left) is concerned about climate change.
“I strongly believe that to find and implement solutions to climate change, one must have a strong understanding of the leading theories on the causes and impacts of economic growth” he said. “ECON 305 was the beginning of my path to understanding this topic.”
Azevedo is the inaugural award winner for the Peter Kennedy Undergraduate Scholarship in economics. Every semester one of the top students in ECON 305, intermediate macroeconomics theory, will be recognized.
Peter Kennedy was an accomplished scholar who taught at SFU for over 40 years and retired in 2008, and is best remembered as a passionate teacher and mentor, who was instrumental in the evolution of the Department of Economics at SFU.
“It is our objective that this undergraduate scholarship and the Peter Kennedy Memorial Post Graduate Scholarship recognize Peter’s passion for teaching economics and assist young scholars in exploring new areas of research in macroeconomics. Deven is an excellent candidate and we wish him well in his work in this timely important area of study,” the Kennedy family comments.
Azevedo is thankful to the Kennedy family for encouraging him to continue on his path.
“There is much more for me to learn before I may feel like I have a firm grasp on the relationship between macroeconomics and climate change. Therefore, I’m looking forward to the next macroeconomics course, ECON 403, which I’ll be taking this semester.”
SFU Economics welcome over 100 new graduates at our Fall 2016 Convocation! More photos of our successful students are on our Facebook Page.
Linda Chen’s inquisitive personality and passion to get involved helped her to forge her own path through SFU Economics. Graduating with a BA, major in economics, Linda used her five years at SFU to complete an international exchange that broaden her perspective and get heavily involved with the Economics Student Society (ESS).
Linda discovered economics in ECON 103 with Professor Douglas Allen. She said, “he really changed my prospective. He was a hard prof, I'll be lying if I said his classes was a piece of cake.” Chen was attracted to economics theories and concepts as she could visualize herself in the concepts. She explains, “I would actually put myself in the situation. How would I react in the situation? It’s very micro but when you act it out, other people are very similar, and that is how people interact.”
At first, she was not sure if she wanted to change her major. She said, “I didn't have the motivation to study, or even open the text book because I thought this was so boring. But the reason why I went into business because it was a pathway that was direct and it seems, you know what you want to do after.” She continues, “I became a bit hermit during the year and half because I was really confused about what I wanted to do.”
However she found friends in her economics courses that influenced her to join the ESS and switch to the economics major program. She said, “I learned so much during the whole ESS experience as I learned how to communicate. It gave me the tools I need, when I go into the workplace, on how to communicate with co-workers and different departments.”
An honours degree in economics won’t be Cameron Young’s only distinction when he crosses the convocation dais this week.
His honours thesis was recognized as one of best undergraduate papers in the world—in the top ten per cent of all economics paper to be exact—by the Undergraduate Awards, the world’s largest academic awards programme.
Young’s paper tackled independent, expenditure-only, political action committees (PACs), known as super PACs, and their ever-growing influence on U.S. elections. He found a significant correlation between strong super PAC support and vote share for a bill or election candidate.
Dr. Raj Chetty, Stanford economist, presented an exciting lecture to over 200 alumni, students, and other members of the community on Sept 12, 2016. Watch his lecture below.
Join your fellow alumni and senior economics students for a casual networking event. Your first drink and light refreshments are on the department. See some photos from our last meet up. We hope to see you there!
If you can't join us in Vancouver, SFU Alumni Relations hosts alumni events all over the world! Check out the SFU Alumni Events page to see if an event is in your home town.
The Department of Economics is proud to announce the 2016 graduate recipients of the Jack Knetsch, Cliff Lloyd Memorial Award, the John Chant award, and the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. We would like to thank our generous donors who help us recognize these four students for their outstanding academic and teaching achievement.
Richard G. Lipsey Award
For the continuing PhD student with the best comprehensive exam results at the end of their first year (macro/micro).
"What I love about economics is that through its abstract tools we understand and improve people's everyday life."
Herbert G. Grubel Award
For the graduating MA student with the highest CGPA obtained in the MA required courses during the preceding Fall and Spring semesters.
"In the last year, I’ve learned as much about myself as I have about economics. The friendships I’ve made, the incredible mentorship I’ve received and the endless support of my friends and family have been invaluable. I feel incredibly fortunate and grateful for these gifts. Going forward, all I really want is to help people. I know that my experience at SFU will help in achieving that."
Peter Kennedy Memorial Graduate Fellowship
For the outstanding graduate student who has demonstrated academic and teaching excellence
Xiao (Christy) Yu
"I traveled halfway around the globe to Canada to take pre-university courses when I was eighteen. About ten years later, I am now the mother of a 2-year old girl who was born in Canada, and a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at Simon Fraser University. My research interests are in the areas of financial economics and applied econometrics. I am deeply grateful to Professor Peter Kennedy and his family for their kindness and generosity."
Many of our current student awards are funded by the kind donations from our alumni, faculty, emeritus, retirees, staff, and community members. Your donation can help recognize and reward our brightest undergraduate and graduate students.
The Economics Student Society hosted its second annual Economics Case Competition for undergraduate students on October 14, 2016. The competition was supported by Professor Doug Allen, who volunteered his time to formulate the questions and judge the competition. The purpose of the event was to engage students with an opportunity to combine their knowledge of economic theory with some relevant real-world situations, while building social connections and community within the department. The department was proud to sponsor the prize money of the competition; a total contribution of $800. Our students were up for the challenge.
This year’s competition set a new record in student participation. Eight teams, comprising a total of 30 students, submitted answers to the carefully prepared questions. On October 14th 2016, the top five teams presented their answers in the final round to a crowd of over 40 spectators.
- Equilibrium Models in Economics: Lawrence Boland latest book examines the major problematic assumptions employed to build equilibrium models.