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Senior Vice President, Economics Research division at Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
MA Economics, 1987
"People from all walks of life are interested in Economics” says Dr. David Andolfatto, SFU economics alumnus and former economics professor at SFU.
Andolfatto's primary role as Vice President is to advise James Bullard, the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and otherwise support the activities that take place within the research division. He is a member of the senior Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) council at the St. Louis Fed. He coordinates FOMC briefings, which are designed to help the President prepare for the upcoming meetings Washington D.C. Apart from his advisory duties, Andolfatto is expected to work on research for policy discussions. “President Bullard takes economic research very seriously and believes, along with the rest of us, that frontier research can and should be brought to bear on contemporaneous policy debates. My experiences here have affected my research program profoundly”, says Andolfatto.
Andolfatto also connects with the general public through opinion articles, Twitter, and a personal blog, MacroMania. Economics as not an easy subject but people want to understand it, however economists do not have all the answers. He explains “we don’t know, but we have some ideas, some probably better than yours, not because we’re any smarter than you, but because we’ve spent a lot longer studying the subject than you have.” On why Andolfatto reaches out to the general public, he further clarifies, “I want people to be well-informed about the nature of economic debates. I want people to know how to identify illogical or ideological arguments and to know where legitimate scientific disagreement exists.”
Although David Andolfatto is adding to the policy discussion at a global level, his interest in economics started at SFU in 1983. He was inspired to pursue economics by taking a Canadian economics policy course, taught by Professor Herbert Grubel (2004 winner of the Nora and Ted Sterling Prize in support of controversy). “I entered that class with a particular philosophical disposition that Grubel proceeded to dismantle lecture by lecture”, Dr. Andolfatto goes on, “I remember feeling shocked and fascinated at this “new” way of thinking of things. He made me drink from the elixir of economic reasoning. I was hooked from then on.” After completing his BBA degree at SFU, Dr. Andolfatto completed his MA degree in Economics at SFU, and went onto complete his PhD at Western University.
Andolfatto came back to SFU in 2000 and now teaches economics graduate courses, upper and lower undergraduate courses. His passion for teaching shows in his enthusiasm for his students, “to help the students prepare for an upcoming exam, some of my teaching assistants decided to hold office hours collectively in a vacant classroom. I have pictures of my assistants patiently answering questions from eager students. The blackboard was full of equations and diagrams. As I looked on, I remember feeling so proud of these young people.“
For those passionate students interested in economics and discovering the area they are most passionate about Andolfatto recommends to open your eyes, propose questions and let those questions inspire you into your research. He states “If one is devoted to a lifetime to study, you may as well devote it to questions that you personally find puzzling”. David Andolfatto recommends to those future students to “read a lot of history, familiarize yourself with plenty of data and to keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to change your mind if the theory and evidence tells you too”.