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|3 Questions with Benjamin Olken
How is climate change going to affect our economic activity in the future? Many researchers have dug into this subject empirically in recent years, including economists Michael Greenstone and Benjamin Olken of MIT. Now Olken, along with economists Melissa Dell of Harvard University and Benjamin Jones of Northwestern University, has co-authored a lengthy review article for the Journal of Economic Literature, surveying this research and suggesting areas needing further study. Olken sat down with MIT News recently to discuss the climate-economy connection.
|Ivan Werning elected Fellow of Econometric Society
Professor Ivan Werning has been elected a Fellow of the Econometric Society for influential and pioneering contributions in macroeconomics, public finance, and more. The Econometric Society is an international society for the advancement of economic theory in its relation to statistics and mathematics.
|Abhijit Banerjee receives the Gabarron International Award for Economics
Ford International Professor Banerjee will receive the Gabarron International Award "For his outstanding contributions in the field of economics and particularly for introducing us to a different way of thinking about economics and how economics are relevant to poverty and thus making everyone a participant in "the great debate of the world". For his constant analysis of the reduction of poverty, and for his eye-opening views on micro-solutions and their contribution to the overall explanation within the poverty discussion. For his unquestioned influence in a new generation of economists who are reassessing their empirical methods and going beyond the traditional models and combining theory with field work in order to come up with micro-solutions that will have an impact in their communities." The Gabarron International Award for Economics recognizes the person, team, entity or institution whose activities in the field of economics has made a decisive contribution to improving the quality of life of a group of people, territory or society, and in whose specific work and projects outstanding social concern is an underlying objective.
|Bengt Holmstrom Awarded CME Group-MSRI Prize in Innovative Quantitative Applications
Professor Bengt Holmstrom is the 2013 recipient of the CME Group-MSRI Prize in Innovative Quantitative Applications. The eighth annual CME Group-MSRI Prize recognizes individuals who contribute original concepts in mathematical, statistical or computational methods for the study of the markets' behavior and global economics. "Professor Holmstrom's research on the impact of liquidity and the role that governmental intervention can play have produced extraordinary insights into macroeconomics and the recent global financial crises," said David Eisenbud, Director of MSRI and Prize Selection Committee member. "MSRI is proud to be collaborating with CME Group in acknowledging Professor Holmstrom's innovative analysis and its contribution to the mathematics community."
|Featured Research: Arnaud Costinot helped revive interest in the Theory of Comparative Advantage
Associate Professor Arnaud Costinot studies international trade - and has helped revive interest in economics' venerable Theory of Comparative Advantage formulated by the Scotsman David Ricardo in 1817. Costinot has made it the focus of a series of studies - he is frequently "revisiting this idea, extending it, generalizing it, confronting it with the data, and quantifying the importance that it may have for welfare." Among other things, Costinot and colleague Dave Donaldson co-authored a paper, published in 2012, that used agricultural data extracted from 55 countries to show that there is indeed a link between comparative advantage and specialization, something that is hard to demonstrate empirically. Pol Antras, an economist at Harvard University, called it "one of these papers where you think somebody should have done it 50 years ago."
|Featured Research: An experiment puts auditing under scrutiny
Study co-authored by 3M Professor of Environmental Economics, Public Economics, Labor Economics Michael Greenstone and Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics Esther Duflo reduces pollution in India while calling conventional auditing markets into question. In an eye-opening experiment involving roughly 500 industrial plants in the state of Gujarat, in western India, changing the auditing system has indeed produced dramatically different outcomes - reducing pollution, and more generally calling into question the whole practice of letting firms pay the auditors who scrutinize them.
|Featured Research: Rethinking Investment Risk
Financial innovation is supposed to reduce risk - in theory, at least. Yes, new financial instruments based on the housing market helped cause the financial crisis of 2008. But in the abstract, those same instruments have the potential to spread risk more evenly throughout the marketplace by making it possible to trade debt more extensively, rather than having it concentrated in a relatively few hands. Assistant Professor Alp Simsek makes the case that even in theory, financial innovation does not lower portfolio risk. Instead, it raises portfolio risks by creating situations in which parties sit on opposing sides of deep disagreements about the value of certain investments
|Economics Alumnus Robert J. Shiller wins Nobel Prize in economic sciences
Robert J. Shiller (SM '68, PhD '72), an economist known for his work on the long-term fluctuations of asset prices in markets, will share the Nobel Prize in economic sciences for 2013 with Eugene F. Fama and Lars Peter Hansen. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that the award was being given to the three economists "for their empirical analysis of asset prices."
|Featured Research: Assistant Professor Heidi Williams Decodes Economics of Gene Sequencing
Assistant Professor Heidi Williams is trying to help scientists as they unlock the secrets of a different code: the human genome. Her focus is on determining how patent rules alter gene-related innovation. Recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER grant, Professor Williams is tracking patents' effects on developments in genomics and building an open-source database to better enable others to follow suit.
|Featured Research: Study estimates extent to which air pollution in China shortens human lives
A high level of air pollution, in the form of particulates produced by burning coal, significantly shortens the lives of people exposed to it, according to a unique new study of China co-authored by 3M Professor of Environmental Economics, Michael Greenstone.
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