Econ 900: PhD Workshop

Course Description: This is a required course for PhD students about to enter their 3rd year of the program; see the department's Satisfactory Progress Guidelines for PhD students. The purpose of this course is threefold: (1) to help you begin doing your own economic research; (2) to teach you how to give and receive feedback; and (3) to develop your public speaking skills.

How to Begin: By the time you enroll in this course, you will have completed most (or all) of your course requirements. It is now time to start thinking about research topics. One way to do this is to think about questions that you find interesting and/or puzzling. Look around in the literature and see what has been done in these areas. Identify the issues or questions that you think might be worthy of further investigation. Meet with colleagues and professors to discuss your ideas. Settle on a question. This last point cannot be overemphasized: You should be able to explain to an audience what question you wish to answer and why you believe the question to be important. Finally, identify at least one professor and ask them whether they might serve as a mentor for your project. If all goes well, the mentor may eventually agree to be your supervisor.

Presentations: The exact nature of your presentation will depend on how far along you have progressed in your work. You are encouraged to present ideas that are in a very preliminary stage; this course is designed to give you feedback. You might begin, for example, by simply presenting and describing data, and/or reviewing some of the key contributions made in the literature (describing where and why these contributions appear to fall short in your view). Research at a more advanced stage may consist of a formal economic theory and/or explicit econometric investigations. If your particular research program appears to be going nowhere (a frequent phenomenon), discard it and start again (you will want to consult your mentor). When you project has advanced sufficiently, you will be in a position to present it in a Brown Bag Seminar (this will complete your course requirement).

Guide for Presenters: You should aim for a presentation lasting between 30-55 minutes. Do not waste this time with an extensive literature review. Prepare a set of slides (please do not use PowerPoint). One of your first slides should provide a clear statement regarding the question you are interested in examining (or be prepared to state the question verbally). For those presenting theoretical work, make sure to describe the decision-making agents in your model economy (preferences, constraints, information structure, solution concept, etc.). Prepare to get raked over the coals if you fail to do any of this.

Here are some slides that I constructed using Scientific Workplace: Example 1
Here are a couple of examples from Simon Woodcock: Example 2; Example 3

And here is one from Brian Krauth: Example4
Both Brian and Simon use the Beamer Latex Environment; also available for Scientific Workplace.

Finally, here is the procedure you should follow:

Guide for Participants: During the presentation itself, you should limit yourself to asking clarifying questions only. These can take the following form: What is the question? Why are you doing this? What does that symbol represent? Who Cares? And so on. Once the presenter has finished, feel free to offer constructive criticism, suggestions and your opinions. Note: if you cannot attend the presentation, please email the presenter and the graduate chair, sending your regrets.

Course Readings: The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. Writing Tips for PhD Students, by John H. Cochrane.

Summer Schedule: Fridays, 2.30 - 3.20, WMC 4602.

Summer 2009
May 08 David Andolfatto On the Societal Benefits of Private Information
May 15
Steve Fagan Liquidity and Large Speculators in Futures Markets
May 22
Ben Harris Wage Gaps Are Totally Gay
May 30
Georgi Boichev Insecure Property Rights Under Proportional Representation
Jun 05
Haitao Xiang TBA
Jun 12
Hagen Schwerin Investment in Clean Technologies
Jun 19
Bianjun Xia TBA
Jun 26
Jul 03
Michele Battisti School Choice and Ethnicity
Jul 10
Jul 07


Spring 2009
Jan 23 Mohsen Javdani On the Information Content of Test-Based School Achievement Measures
Jan 30
Haitao Xiang Money, Capital, and Banking
Feb 06
Hagen Schwerin Transportation Costs and Pollution
Feb 13
Kenneth Lam Macroeconomic Factors and Credit Rating Transitions
Feb 20
Ben Fu China's Rural Development and Domestic Migration
Feb 27
Michelle Battisti Sources of Wage Growth and Returns to Seniority in Italy
Mar 06
Mar 13
Mar 20
Mar 27
Apr 03
Michelle Battisti School Choice and Taste for Diversity

Fall 2008
Sep 19
Hagen Schwerin Environmental Asset Externality and Natural Resource Scarcity
Sep 26
Michele Battisti Present-Biased Preferences and Optimal Compensation Schedules
Oct 03
Andreas Ludwig Evolution of Moral Codes in Small Groups
Oct 10
Horatio Morgan Capital Adequacy in the Banking Sector
Oct 17
Kenneth Lam Macroeconomic Factors and Credit Rating Transitions
Oct 24
Mohsen Javdani The Effect of Test-Based School Effectiveness Measures on School Choice
Oct 31
Ben Fu China's Rural Development and Domestic Migration
Nov 07
Sophie Wang Credit Markets with Limited Enforcement
Nov 14
Alfred Kong Social Norms and Obesity
Nov 21
Haitao Xiang Money, Capital, and Banking
Nov 28
Michele Battisti Sources of Wage Growth and the Return to Tenure

Summer 2008
May 21
Mei Dong Money and Costly Credit
May 28
Bianjun Xia Do People Care About Status?
Jun 04
Mohsen Javdani Standardized Testing, Information, and School Choice
Jun 11
Horatio Morgan Stock Index Futures Mispricing Tests and Mispricing Shock Persistence
Jun 18
Tony Xiang Bad News and Long Slumps
Jun 25
Sophie Wang Learning in Credit Markets
Jul 02
Michele Battisti Present-Biased Preferences
Jul 09
Kenneth Lam Bond Rating Agencies and the Business Cycle
Jul 16
Mohsen Javdani Standardized Testing, Information, and School Choice
Jul 23
Horatio Morgan A Copula Approach to Investigating the U.S. Subprime Mortgage Market
Jul 30
Michele Battisti Present-Biased Preferences

Spring 2008
Jan 15
Yi Xue Trading Frequencies and the Volatility Clustering of Returns
Jan 21
Ben Fu Overlapping Generations and the Environmental Kuznets Curve
Jan 28
Kenneth Lam Bond Rating Agencies and the Business Cycle
Feb 04
Sophie Wang Generalists versus Specialists
Feb 13
Tony Xiang Bad News and Long Slumps
Feb 18
Hagen Schwerin Capital Accumulation and Global Warming
Feb 25
Bianjun Xia A Simple Explanation of Some Key Time Preference Anomolies
Mar 07
Alfred Kong Obesity and School Performance Among Children
Mar 10
Andreas Ludwig The Evolution of Vengeance in Small Groups
Mar 17
Mei Dong Money and Costly Credit
Mar 25
Dingding Xu The Impact of Post Secondary Expansion Policy in China

Fall 2007
Sep 20
Yi Xue Identifying Private Information in Asset Prices
Sep 28
Ben Fu An Environmental Kuznets Curve
Oct 12
Andreas Ludwig Sharing Among Anonymous Agents
Oct 18
Bo Chen Trade Variety and Productivity in Canada
Nov 02
Scott Skjei War and Feasts: Signaling in Pre-State Societies
Nov 08
Ross Hickey Electoral Accountability in Federations
Nov 16
Alfred Kong Obesity and School Performance Among Children
Nov 22
Kenneth Lam Ranking Credit Risk
Nov 30
Mei Dong Indivisible Labor, Inflation and Unemployment
Dec 07
Dingding Xu The Impact of Educational Expansion Policies in Developing Countries