SFU welcomes new assistant professor Minjie Deng

October 02, 2020

When Minjie Deng first visited Simon Fraser University (SFU) earlier this year, she was impressed by the Department of Economics' vibrant research culture and welcoming atmosphere. So when offered a faculty position with the university, she jumped at the opportunity.

This fall, Deng joins SFU's Department of Economics as a full-time assistant professor.  

She made the move to Vancouver from New York where she recently completed her doctoral degree at the University of Rochester. In her PhD thesis "Essays on Migration, Inequality and Sovereign Default", Deng examined the relationship between sovereign default risk and the labour force. 

Deng says, "In examining the role of income inequality and labour mobility as key determinants of government default risk, my thesis develops a unified framework that jointly studies the salient features of sovereign debt crises."

Born and raised in the small Chinese city of Yinchuan in Ningxia Province, Deng completed her master's degree in economics at Renmin University of China before moving to New York. As reflected in her doctoral thesis, Deng's research interests lies in international macroeconomics specifically on topics related to the sovereign debt crisis and its interactions with households and firm dynamics. 

"I'm interested in these topics not only because of theoretical interests but also realistic implications," says Deng. "For example, in recent pandemics, some governments are quite vulnerable given their already high debt burden."

In one of her on-going projects in collaboration with Chang Liu from the University of Rochester, Deng examined how Italian firms managed their intangible asset investments during a debt crisis and the effect on the country's long-term growth. So far, they've found that large and low-leverage firms increase their intangible investments during a debt crisis while small and high-leverage firms act in the opposite direction. 

Her other research project studies the role of financial heterogeneity in determining firms' investment responses to monetary shocks. In this project, Deng and her co-author found that debt-holding firms and especially those with higher leverage or more long-term debt are less responsive to an expansionary monetary policy.

While Deng is looking forward to exploring Vancouver, she is also excited to embark on her teaching career with SFU. "My teaching philosophy is to make the content I teach more relatable, organized, and clear," says Deng. "I also believe that being kind and approachable is important in teaching."