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Department Highlights: 2012-2013

Professor Ken Rogoff Gives Wellington-Burnham Lecture
On 1 April, Harvard Professor and former IMF Economic Research Director Ken Rogoff gave this year's Welllington-Burnham Lecture to a packed crowd of Tufts faculty and students. The lecture was based on research related to Professor Rogoff's best-selling book, This Time It's Different (coauthored with Carmen Rinehart) that documents and presents 800 years of data covering 70 countries to identify debt and financial crises across time and space. It is without question the largest such data set ever compiled. Among the many insights that Professor Rogoff argued follow from analysis of that data are: 1) financial crises have historically been fairly common so that the absence of a major global crisis from the 1930's up to 2007 is something of an historical anomaly; 2) recessions associated with financial/banking crises are more severe and last much longer than standard business cycle recessions, hence the slow recovery from the 2007-08 crisis; and 3) financial/banking crises are typically associated with large increases in public sector debt, which can subsequently slow economic growth in and of itself if it rises to much relative to gdp. Professor Rogoff concluded that it will take some time for the US (and other countries) to unwind its large government debt but argued that this should be an important long-run policy goal.

Professor Lucas Papademos Gives Birger Lecture
Lucas Papademos, the former Prime Minister of Greece, and a former Vice President of the European Central Bank who is now a Visiting Professor at the Kennedy School of Government delivered this year's Birger Lecture on 16 April. Professor Papademos spoke about the ongoing Euro crisis and the survival of the Euro. He viewed the loss of competitiveness between Germany and other Eurozone countries; non-sustainable fiscal excesses in some countries (Greece, Italy); and private banking systems highly variable to a real estate collapse (Ireland, Spain) in other nations as mutually reinforcing causes of the crisis. Despite the very sharp drop in economic activity and rise in unemployment that the crisis has produced, however, Professor Papademos nevertheless expressed optimism that the Eurozone will remain intact and that the Euro will survive. His optimism is based on recent policy changes to establish a true banking union across the common currency area as well as a new fiscal compact to limit sovereign debt issuance. While acknowledging that challenges remain, Professor Papademos suggested that recent evidence suggests that the corrections induced by the financial crisis and recession have largely restored the necessary competitive balance and that financial markets have greatly reduced the risk assessment of troubled Eurozone debt suggesting that these markets share his cautious optimism.

Professor Hardman wins Economics Professor of the Year Award
On Thursday, 18 April, the Economics Society named Professor Anna Hardman as the 2013 winner of it annual Professor of the Year award. Professor Hardman has been taught several classes in the department for many years and last year was appointed as the department's only full time Senior Lecturer. Students praised Professor Hardman for the enthusiasm and insight she consistently brings to all her classes, her presentation of challenging material, and the many long hours she has given to helping students writing research papers. The faculty and staff join with the students in congratulating Professor Hardman for her outstanding teaching and thanking her for her very hard work. Congratulations Professor Hardman!

Professor Gilbert Metcalf testified before the Massachusetts Legislature Joint Committee
At the request of the bill sponsors, Professor Gilbert Metcalf testified before the Massachusetts Legislature Joint Committee on Revenue on H. 2352, a bill to enact a carbon tax in Massachusetts. In his testimony Metcalf focused on the efficiency of using a pricing mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the importance of revenue recycling to avoid adversely affecting the state's economy, and provided examples of the use of carbon taxes at the sub-national level. Metcalf recently returned to Tufts from Washington, DC where he was serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment and Energy at the Department of the Treasury.

Professor Jeff Zabel awarded a David C. Lincoln Fellowship
Professor Jeff Zabel has just been awarded a David C. Lincoln Fellowship to study the impact of Proposition 2½ Overrides on the efficiency and level of local service provision. In Massachusetts, Proposition 2½ limits annual property taxes in Massachusetts to 2.5% of total assessed value and restricts the current limit on property tax revenue (the "levy limit") to an annual growth rate of 2.5%. Proposition 2½ allows residents to vote to override the 2.5% increase in the levy limit. The goal of this research is to evaluate if over the long term, Proposition 2½ and the subsequent override behavior has led to greater efficiency in the provision of local public services.

Tom Downes wins The Association for Education Finance and Policy
Tom Downes wins The Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) 2012 Service Award. On March 16, 2012 received his AEFP Service Award at the 37th annual AEFP Conference held this year in Boston. The Service Award recognizes contributions made to public policy development, research, public understanding, local school finance development and service to the AEFP. Congratulations Tom!

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