Roanoke College Economics Program

Volume 3, Issue 1
Summer and Fall 2012

From the Colonel’s Desk
The economics program at Roanoke College has seen significant growth over the last few years, even as some programs have receded in popularity. It has been said that interest in economics is counter-cyclical: when things are going well, we pay less attention; but when times are tough, we want to know why and what can be done. As the economy has recently shown a resistance to improve, student interest in economics has blossomed. A quick look at the numbers tells all. Comparing the years 2001-2006 graduating classes to those from 20072012, there has been a 67% increase in the average number of economics majors in the latter group. This does not include seniors who had economics as their minor. Including minors and majors together, it puts growth at well above 100%. This is an amazing statistic for such a short amount of time. Of course, I like to think that the program will continue this growth rate well into the future. Someday economics may be one of the most popular majors on campus. Another way to measure popularity is current enrollments across all student classifications, rather than only graduating seniors. Here we see more evidence of growth. At present, we have 26 economics majors and 12 minors, for a total of 38 currently enrolled in the program. This number represents a more than doubling over just a few years ago. Quality is just as important as quantity. We have more students involved in student/ faculty research than ever before. This includes programs like Summer Scholars and Honors in Major. The Fed Challenge continues to be popular. We consistently field strong teams for this competition. The economics faculty is involved in extra-program curriculums, like the Honors Program and Intellectual Inquiry courses. This involvement Garry Fleming, exposes stuShannon Chair dents who of Economics might not otherwise take an economics class to our program, and has been a point of entry for some of our new majors. We continue to attract business majors who want a “feather in their cap” at graduation, with an economics minor. We are hiring a new tenure track position this year, giving us four full-time, tenure track faculty. If our current growth rate continues, I expect needing a fifth economist sometime soon. We have momentum. Let’s keep it going!

Advising tips:
 The Economics Program offers a major and a minor  If you major in BUAD, there are only five additional courses left to complete the minor in ECON (one of which can count as the BUAD elective)  Several of the ECON 200-level courses serve as electives in BUAD concentrations  ECON 121 can substitute for an INQ 260

Inside this issue:
News and notes Student Editor’s note Spring courses Faculty updates Presentations, Publications and Honors 2 3 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Reaching out
This is our fourth release of Roanomics and it continues to grow in popularity. Several alumni have sent emails or posted on social networking outlets that they enjoy reading through the newsletter. We are thrilled that Roanomics is catching on in this way. Reconnecting with alumni was one of the purposes of the newsletter. If there is something that you would like to see in the next issue, send an email to Remember that you can keep up to date on the Economics Program between issues of Roanomics by following our blog, kassensroanokeecon.blogspot.c om, which is updated several times a month, including items on current students.

Consumer Sentiment Feature: Where is the Class of 2012 Undergraduate Research Economics Club

Travels with Dr. Bob 12

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News and notes
The Economics Club at Roanoke College continues… and with a budget! If you are interested, please fill out the interest form http:// economics-club-at-roanokecollege.html Zach Birtch `13 will present his research at the Virginia Assessment Group 2012 Annual Conference later this month in Richmond. Sara Caudle `12 and Chris Kwaramba `12 earned the Honors in the Major distinction for Economics in May 2012, Chanho Song `12 is engaged to Geeyoon Chun. Congrats Chanho! The Economics Program is starting a new recruiting initiative for prospective economics students. If you would like to help, contact Dr. Kassens Dr. Deborah Spencer will offer the first Economics course in the new INQ curriculum next semester. The course, Capitalism, is discussed in more detail later in this issue. The 2012 Fed Challenge Team of Conner Dubois `13, Brunella Salazar `13, Ian KervickJimenez `13, Kerry Murphy `13, Tiffany Ingram `13, and Elizabeth Morris `13 was delayed by Sandy, but will compete later this month in Richmond. We are on the job market! A tenure track Assistant Professor will be added to our faculty for AY 2013-14. Interviews will be conducted at the ASSA/AEA meetings in January. Tyler Rinko `11 is a finalist for the Teach for America Program. Good luck to all students taking the GREs this semester, including Katie Thornton `13, Wai Paing `12, and Yahia AbuHashem `12. The Virginia Consumer Sentiment and Price Expectations Indexes will now be released each quarter! The February 2012 report can be found here. Please let us know what is new with you at or fill out our form at

Chris Kwaramba

Ian Kervick-Jimenez

Where are our alumni now?
Katie Thornton

SJ Brusard `09 took a new job with Wedbush Securities, Industrial Equity Sales Brode McCrady `07 is working at Vantiv as a Merchant Data Analyst Andrew Streaman `09 is an analyst with JP Morgan Chase John Pauler `07 is a manager in Marketing Analytics at Vistaprint Danielle McCloskey `11 moved to Spokane, WA and is working at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital as a clinical

research associate in Pediatric Oncology. She and her husband Michael are expecting their first child next year. Justin Tuma `11 completed a graduate program at Durham University and is now an Assistant Lacrosse Coach at Randolph-Macon College Fill out the alumni survey at Have career advice or contacts for our current Economics students? Please send an email to

“My overall education at Roanoke College, and particularly my economics education, prepared me for dealing with the extremely varied career and educational experiences I have had throughout my life” -Roanoke College alumna `72 Give us your comments via alumni survey on our blog and they might be included in the next issue of Roanomics!

Marko Krkeljas

Volume 3, Issue 1

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Student Editor’s Note: Kerry Murphy `13
My time at Roanoke College has gone by so quickly it amazes me that I am already a senior. I never thought that I would be graduating Roanoke with a degree in Economics and concentrating in Accounting. This semester I have been busy with both my Econometrics class and The Federal Reserve Challenge. In both of these classes I have focused on unemployment. In Econometrics I am doing research into the effects of unemployment on marital and family relations. For the Federal Reserve Challenge I am covering unemployment in our presentation. In this class, myself and 5 other students will be traveling to the Richmond Federal Reserve in late October to present our recommendations to their staff. In addition to unemployment, we will be covering GDP, housing, consumer confidence, international trade, and monetary policy. Both of these classes have really put into perspective all the things I have learned in the classroom. My interest in researching unemployment started through my experience as a student researcher for Dr. Alice Kassens last year. Her project explored the correlation between unemployment and depression. Working for her gave me the chance to develop my research skills as well. This opportunity was not only very educational and academically focused, but it also gave me excellent job experience. As I look towards graduation, I have been actively preparing for life after graduation. I am moving towards a career in the fields of research, finance or risk management. I am excited to be a senior and I anticipate all of the great things that are to come.

Kerry Murphy `13

WHY MAJOR IN ECONOMICS? "A lot of people talk about majoring in business ... actually, economics is even better, because you learn a lot more quantitative analysis, a lot more statistics, and things that are applicable in kind of this big data world," she says. "Similar to physics, it's really good for salary growth overall." -Kelsey Sheehy, US News and World Report, “College Majors with the Best Rate of Return on Investment”, September 12, 2012.

(Blogging in Dr. Kassens’ Principles course) “helped me to become more aware of how economics affects so many different areas” “[enabled me] to understand how what we were learning in class could tie in to other economic events in our country and worldwide.”

Spring 2013 Courses
ECON 121 Principles of Microeconomics Nik-Khah, Spencer ECON 122 Principles of Macroeconomics Fleming, Kassens ECON 227 Health Economics Kassens ECON 232 Money & Banking Fleming ECON 322 Intermediate Theory: Macroeconomics Fleming ECON 461 Economic Seminar Nik-Khah INQ 260EC WA Capitalism in Crisi Spencer Please check Web Advisor for official information and times

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Faculty Update: Dr. Alice Louise Kassens
I enjoyed a productive sabbatical over the spring. In addition to using the APS Franklin Grant to conduct research at the CUNY-Baruch College RDC in NYC and Rutgers University, I made plans to begin a project regarding obesity, diabetes, and income in Latin America with Dr. Yana Rodgers. We hatched this idea running along the Raritan River in NJ and hope to present our progress in 2014. Yana is a development economist. Our project will marry her skills with my background in health economics. I will be looking for a student to help with the project next semester. My blog, “The Running Economist”, which details my journey searching for the optimal balance between two of my passions, running and research, is coming along. I have also begun blogging for Women Talk Sports. This is a fantastic site for women’s sports issues and I am proud to be a part of it. I have interviewed several world class athletes, including Kara Goucher and Stephanie BrownTrafton. You can find all of my interviews and contributions to WTS here: http:// profiles/view/3540. Consider following me on Twitter @RnningEconomist My biggest excitement was the publication of an article that I coauthored with three of my former students: Sara Caudle, Tyler Rinko, and Justin Tuma. We detailed a process for effectively supervising multiple independent studies. You can find the electronic version of the article on the journal’s webpage. LINK I hope that this is the first of many coauthored papers with undergraduates. My econometrics students are working on a variety of exciting projects which we will share with you in the next issue of Roanomics.

Dr. Alice Louise Kassens, Associate Professor of Economics

Faculty Update: Dr. Deborah Spencer
The Economics program will launch its first INQ 260 course this Spring semester entitled, Capitalism in Crisis. The fact that we are in a state of crisis is evident in the numbers: high levels of public and personal debt, rising medical costs alongside a growing number of uninsured, high and prolonged unemployment, pervasive underemployment, large and persistent trade deficits and an income distribution picture that takes us back to the 1920’s. The questions raised by these alarming trends are the focus of inquiry for this course. Can Capitalism survive? How does it work? What are its requirements? What is the role of government within a capitalist society? Why do Economists disagree? Why does Capitalism dominate rival economic systems? Does our Capitalist system promote freedom with purpose? Different economic perspectives use different methodologies to answer these important and difficult questions. Join us in this fascinating journey to understand and critically analyze the economic perspectives that ultimately compete for your allegiance. What did Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and Thorsten Veblen say that can inform our thoughts on the current crisis and capitalism generally? How can we borrow from and “modernize” these giants of economics at a time when economic change is inevitable? Take “Capitalism in Crisis” and be a participant in shaping your future! NOTE: Dr. Spencer’s class is listed as an INQ 260 course. You can register for it now and take the inaugural offering in the Spring 2013.

Dr. Deborah Spencer, Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics

Volume 3, Issue 1

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Dr. Alice Louise Kassens North American Clinical Dermatologic Society’s 53rd Annual Meeting, Zurich Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants, Roanoke
Tiffany Ingram `13

Conference, Brock University History of Political Economy Conference, Duke Society for the Social Studies of Science Conference, Denmark Utrecht School of Economics Workshop, The Netherlands

Dr. Garry Fleming Hawaii International Conference on Business Tiffany Ingram `13 Family Weekend Showcase of Research and Creativity, Roanoke College

Dr. Edward Nik-Khah History of Economics Society

Publications, Awards and Honors
Dr. Alice Louise Kassens “Do as I say and as I do: An adaptation of McElroy’s Mentor Demonstration Model for Multiple Independent Studies” (with Sara Caudle, Tyler Rinko, and Justin Tuma). Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring, 2.1 Roanoke College Faculty Summer Research Award for “A study of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” Dr. Edward Nik-Khah “Island Empire: Economics Imperialism a an Inperative of Chicago Neoliberalism” (with Rob VanHorn). Journal of Economic Methodology 19(3): 259-282. Nathan Castellano `12 2012 Senior Scholar Marko Krkeljas `12 2012 Outstanding Senior Sara Caudle `12 2012 ODE Award James Bradshaw `13 Lowry Scholarship Nomin Baasandavaa `13 Phi Beta Kappa The Lowry Scholarship is for rising seniors and is in honor of the late Dr. Darryl Lowry. If you would like to donate to the Lowry Scholarship, please contact the Roanoke College Resource Development Office

Edward Nik-Khah, Associate Professor

Spring 2012 Academic Honors
President’s List Katie Thornton Emma Webb Dean’s List
James Bradshaw `13

Ted Ellis Tiffany Ingram Chris Kwaramba Chanho Song Amanda Stewart Patrick McLaughlin Spencer Lewin

Honors in the Major Sara Caudle Chris Kwaramba Athletic Honor Roll Christopher Migliarese James Bradshaw

Nomin Baasandavaa Zach Birtch James Bradshaw

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Consumer Sentiment and the Economy
Want macroeconomic data? Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) is a great secondary source of government data. FRED recently released an excel add-in to increase the ease of data manipulation. It was used to generate the plot of the ICS below. Over 64,000 data series are available free of charge.
Consumer confidence in the economy has a profound influence on the current and future health of the national economy. For example, if individuals lose confidence they might begin to save more and consume less, thus reducing US GDP. There are several measures of consumer confidence: 1) Consumer Confidence Index (CCI, produced by The Conference Board): based on 5,000 household surveys, conducted monthly, focus on current and short term business and labor market conditions Consumer Sentiment Index (ICS, produced by the University of Michigan): based on 500 household surveys, conducted monthly, focus on current and short term personal financial situation, business conditions, and climate for purchasing durable goods 3) Consumer Comfort Index (BCCI, produced by Bloomberg, LLC): based on 1,000 household surveys, conducted weekly, focus on current views of the economy, personal finances, and buying climate coverage/reporting of the economy plays a role in consumer confidence?” Twenty people responded to the poll, which was posted on the RC Economics Program blog and Dr. Kassens’ Facebook page. The sample is small, but the results are still interesting. The majority believed that the media does have influence.


There is the potential for the media to influence households’ responses to the surveys and thus the indexes themselves. A non-scientific poll was conducted of students, alumni, and friends of the Roanoke College Economics Program during the last week of October 2012. The question was “Do you think the media’s

What do you see in the above graph? Does there appear to be a relationship between US unemployment and consumer sentiment? The consumer sentiment measure used is the ICS from the University of Michigan. Give us your feedback here and we will include it in the March issue of Roanomics.

Volume 3, Issue 1

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Yahia AbuHashem Millennium Insurance (DC) Applying to graduate programs in economics and other FT work Nomin Baasandavaa KPMG, Associate Nathan Castellano George Washington University Law School Sara Caudle Trent Capital Management, Portfolio Administrator/ Relationship Manager Dustin DeMaria Smart Options Phillip Gereaux Pamplin College of Business (Virginia Tech) - MBA Program Nikolay Karagyozov National Securities Corporation (NY) Marko Krkeljas McIntire School of Commerce (UVA)—Master of Science in Commerce Program “Overall the [McIntire] community is great, the academic resources are superb, and the classes are interesting.” Chris Kwaramba Pamplin College of Business (Virginia Tech) - MBA Program, Master Candidate and Graduate Assistant Serena Laughlin Inverness Counsel LLC,, Compliance Administrative Assistant (NY) Mike McGeough Management Associate (New Orleans) Trevor McNally Trading Associate (Chicago) Ray Owens Cotton & Company LLP, Staff Auditor Wai Paing Queens Library Foundation, Donor Relations Coordinator (volunteer) Applying to graduate programs in economics Max Stein Insite Properties, LLC, Intern Mahmoud Thaher The Hope Fund (DC) Nick White Codebryx, LLC, Marketing Analyst

NOTE: National numbers are from The John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. (2012) “Chasing the American Dream: Recent College Graduates and the Great Recession”.; Data for the RC Class of 2012 was collected via survey, LinkedIn, and Facebook

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Undergraduate researchers: Update
Working with a faculty member on a research project can give you the experience and edge that you need for graduate school and the labor market. All members of the economics faculty are actively engaged in a variety of research projects. You should volunteer to help one of them with a project. In some cases there may be funds available to pay you for your efforts. A definite benefit is the ability to add research experience to your resume. Currently Dr. Alice Louise Kassens has several students helping her with projects. Conor Fitzhenry `16 Conor is currently assisting with a project concerning aging female responses to adverse health related shocks, particularly a diagnosis of Type II diabetes. Response is measured as a change in BMI or hip/waist circumference. Data from the National Institutes of Health Women’s Health Initiative (NIH WHI) is being used, the first economics project to do so. Conor is starting with learning the basics of health economics and the economics of obesity. Additionally he is familiarizing himself with the NIH WHI. Emma Webb `14 Emma joined a project led by Dr. Kassens and Dr. Julie Maina (HHP). They are using data collected by Sara Caudle `12 to assess student wellness at Roanoke College. Resources include several sets of student survey data and nutrition and exercise logs from spring 2012 HHP 160 sections. Emma is currently entering survey and log data so that it can be analyzed and the next steps of the project can be determined.

Dr. Julie Maina, HHP

Undergraduate researchers: Student comment
My name is Conor Fitzhenry. I was born in Miami but currently reside in Buffalo along with my four brothers, my dad, Mike, and my mom, Colleen. Some of my hobbies include running and working out when I’m not busy studying. At Roanoke College, I intend on majoring in economics with a minor in Spanish. My work with Dr. Kassens pertains to health economics and the economics of obesity amongst older women. We are working with data from the Women’s Health Initiative to study the health issues of postmenopausal women. I look forward to continuing my research with Dr. Kassens as the year progresses.

Conor Fitzhenry `16

How can I participate in undergraduate research? 1) Independent study 2) Honors in the Major 3) Research Assistant 4) Upper level courses

What can I do with my research? 1) Present at a conference (on or off-campus) 2) Submit to an awards competition 3) Submit to a journal for publication 4) Include in your application to graduate school or share with a potential employer

Volume 3, Issue 1
Economics Club: Message from the President
This fall, the Economics Club of Roanoke College is proud to announce Dr. Alice Kassens as it’s new advisor, and to see new faces in our ranks. Already Dr. Marvin Phaup (’62), has joined us to speak about the Congressional Budget Constraint and budgetary treatment. This year, we plan to learn off campus at the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond and to explore the history of the financial crisis first hand in New York and tour the NYSE. On campus, we will continue to bring exciting and relevant speakers. Relevant to the political season, the Economics Club will moderate a debate between the College Republicans and College Democrats. The Economics Club hopes to increase student involvement with extracurricular activities on campus, increase student knowledge of economics outside of class, and provide mem-

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bers the opportunity to apply economics to the real world. An Economics major or minor is not required and all students are welcome to join the Economics Club. I look forward to seeing you at our next meeting! Sincerely, Conrad Classen ‘15 President, Economics Club of Roanoke College

Conrad Classen `15

Join the Economics Club
Would you like to be a part of one of the newest recognized clubs on campus? If so contact President Conrad Classen or Dr. Alice Louise Kassens. You can also fill out the interest form. INTEREST FORM

Economics Club: Comment
The Need for Reforms in the U.S. Financial System Both the United States and global financial systems have been long overdue for a series of thorough reforms. The recent financial crisis in the United States should have been a wake-up call, but policymakers have been reluctant to respond due to the surface stability the markets have achieved. The structural problems responsible for the crisis remain both largely unaddressed and dangerous to citizens because of the high level of systemic risk they pose. In short, the system is flawed due to misaligned incentives. For example, traders in the financial system present the shareholder with the principalagent issue; they are incentivized to take enormous risks for which they are often rewarded, but never penalized. This issue could be mitigated by changing the structure of bonuses for investors in financial firms: instead of being giving bonuses in the short term, traders’ gains and losses could be evaluated over a long span of time to more fairly reward them for their efforts. This would decrease incentives for traders to engage in the high-risk betting that so precariously positioned our financial system in the years leading up to the crash. Congress needs to become more involved and take action to realign incentives. Of course there will continue to be financial crises, but proper regulation and free markets will work together to prevent catastrophes like the one we have just experienced.

Ted Ellis `15

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Volume 3, Issue 1

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Economics Program
221 College Lane Salem, VA 24153 Phone: 540-375-2426 Fax: 540-375-2577 E-mail:

“...Because we view economics as solidly within the liberal arts, we are committed to examining the relationship between economics and other areas of knowledge. Students will therefore find it to be an excellent complement to many other majors, including, but not limited to public policy, sociology, history, environmental policy, mathematics, biology, and business administration, as well as concentrations such as gender studies and peace and justice studies.” For information about the Economics Program contact Dr. Garry Fleming ( For comments or suggestions about the newsletter email Read our blog: Faculty Editor: Dr. Alice Louise Kassens Student Editor: Kerry Murphy ‘13

Follow us on Twitter @roanokeecon Tell us what is new with you Join the BUAD/ECON Facebook page

Travels with Dr. Bob
It has been a busy travel year, so I will cover the highlights. In early June we travelled to California-the land of high taxes, oppressive government regulations, municipal bankruptcies (e.g. Stockton), and almost 11% unemployment. They must like this state of affairs because they continue to back the politicians responsible for it. California is a great place to visit. Yosemite National Park- one of the most beautiful places in America. We stayed a historic hotel, the Wawonna, meaning "bathrooms down the hall". Our best activities were a tour of the sequoia forests, a hike up the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Falls, and a trip up to Glacier Point. Another off-season national park adventure was to the Badlands of South Dakota; a beautiful place in a desolate sort of way. We took side trips to Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. In a mountain carving competition, I vote for Crazy Horse: when finished, it will be about ten times as large as Rushmore. There is an inspirational story behind it: it has been a sixty-five year quest by one man, Korczak Ziolkowski and his family to transform a granite mountain into a monument to a famous American Indian chief (without a cent of government funding). It is still a work in progress and will not be finished in my lifetime. You should take a minute and check out their website for some great pictures. tune Festival. A highlight was a sand sculpture competition with artists from around the world. We stayed at a friend's timeshare condo one block off the beach which he purchased for $1.00 on E-Bay from someone who did not want to pay the annual maintenance fee (about $600 for a week's stay). The moral of the story: don't buy a new timeshare from a salesman-you basically will be giving them a $10K -$15K commission for a timeshare you can buy in the resale market for a few hundred dollars or less.

Bob Stauffer, Professor Emeritus

We headed to the NC mountains to see the fall colors. I highly recommend the Mount Pisgah and the Little Switzerland Inns: both are on the Blue Ridge Parkway, are Early October found us at within an hour or so of AsheVirginia Beach’s annual Nep- ville, and have amazing

mountain scenery. Asheville is becoming the craft beer capitol of the East Coast. They have several good local breweries, and Sierra Nevada and New Belgium are moving in. Craft brewing is a rapidly growing industry that creates jobs right here in America. They deserve your support! Remember what Ben Franklin said :"beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Happy Travels, Dr. Bob

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