Economics Alumni News

Class Year: ‘47

Reisman Sends His Greetings


No News - Just going on record as still surviving.


Reisman, George F
Class Year: ‘63

Herbert Grubel Reminisces a Career in Economics


My first academic position following graduation from the PhD program was at Stanford 1962-63. I then spent 3 years at the University of Chicago where, as Harry Johnson put it, I became an economist with a Yale degree and a Chicago education. I was lucky that during my time at Yale (1958-62) and Chicago (1963-67), the economics departments of both institutions experienced a golden age.

After Chicago I spent four years in the Finance Department of the Wharton School before moving in 1972 to Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Between 1993 and 1997 I served as an elected member of the Canadian parliament in Ottawa, holding the position of Minister of Finance in the shadow cabinet of the opposition party. But political life was not for me and after returning to Simon Fraser University in 1997, two years later I turned 65 and was forced to retire.

During my career I have authored, co-authored and edited 20 books, published 82 articles in refereed journals and contributed 55 papers to published conference proceedings. Google Scholar shows that my publications have been cited about 9,000 times.

In retirement I continue to write and give papers at conferences around the world. My latest papers can be found at the SSRN website. Past ones are found at ResearchGate. My current interest is in creating a taxonomy of regulations and the concept of an optimum level of regulation.

Thanks Yale and my great teachers Robert Triffin, William Fellner, Henry Wallich, Art Okun and James Tobin for providing me with the basis for a rewarding career in economics.


Grubel, Herbert
Class Year: ‘64

Bob Archer Volunteering in Retirement


I worked on energy reforms–electricity sector restructuring and privatization and regulatory development–in Eastern Europe, the Former Soviet Union and South and Southeast Asia for 30 years with the Agency for International Development.  The virtual absence of economic considerations in decision-making was costly and still haunts the sector transition away from central planning.  

Since retiring, I have been doing a lot of volunteer work promoting and researching the revenue neutral carbon tax policy (and the lack of performance of cap and trade).  Given the political economic of developing countries, I’ve concluded that such a policy is the best fit given the pervasiveness of weak institutions  (World Bank indices) and serious corruption (Transparency International indices).  Bill Nordhaus’ work has, of course, been extremely helpful. 


Archer, Bob

Besen Keeps Busy


I am serving as a member of ICANN’s Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice Review Team, which is reviewing the effects of ICANN’s new gTLD program.


M. Besen, Stanley
Class Year: ‘66

David Barkin Notes His Recent Accomplishments


  1. Appointed Distinguished Professor, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Mexico City
  2. Elected as Emeritus Researcher, National Research Council, Mexico
  3. Awarded Georg Forster Endowed Chair for socio-economic research on Climate Change at Humboldt University, Berlin
  4. Major current research projects: local solutions for environmental justice; Collaborating in consolidation of post-capitalist societies in Latin America; Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice.

Barkin, David
Class Year: ‘69

Homecoming for Prime Minister Monti


Former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti toured the Economics Department and the Cowles Foundation buildings on Wednesday morning. Monti took the opportunity to visit his old department while in town attending the Global Colloquium of University Presidents hosted by Yale. He said this was his first time back to the department since the late 1960s.

Accompanied by his wife Elsa and Economics Professor Giovanni Maggi, Monti reminisced with department chair, Dirk Bergemann, who guided the group through the 28 and 30 Hillhouse buildings.  Monti visited a seminar room where he attended classes and passed through the student lounge which did not exist when he attended Yale. While in the Cowles Faculty Lounge, he took time to pay homage to his professor and mentor, the late James Tobin.

Giovanni Maggi, who studied under Monti at Bocconi University in the 1980s, was delighted to join the tour and speak with his former professor. “Talking with Professor Monti after a long time brought back wonderful memories of my time as a student at Bocconi University,” said Maggi. “It was a great trip down memory lane, and it reminded me what a fantastic teacher he was.” During Maggi’s time at Bocconi University, Monti directed the Institute of Economics before becoming the university’s rector in 1989 and later president in 1994.

Giovanni Maggi, Elsa Monti, Mario Monti, and Dirk Bergemann

Dirk Bergemann and Mario Monti

Mario Monti and Dirk Bergemann

Class Year: ‘71

John F. McDonald Pens Three Books


Three books published
Postwar Urban America, 2015, Routledge
Chicago: An Economics History, 2016, Routledge
Rethinking Macroeconomics; An Introduction, 2016, Routledge

Class Year: ‘78

Hamilton W. Helmer has the Power - 7 to be exact


I wanted to let you know that my book 7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy has been released.  Details at 7powers.com

Cheers,

Hamilton Helmer (Ph.D. in 1978)
Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer
Strategy Capital


Helmer, Hamilton
Class Year: ‘86, ‘80

Alumni Behind Tobin Scholars Award


Former Professor and Nobel Laureate James Tobin is still a much admired figure in the world of economics, even after his passing in 2002. Motivated by the Great Depression, much of Tobin’s research focused on macroeconomics, mainly monetary and fiscal policy. Not only was he respected for his field work, but he was also revered for his mentorship, teaching and advising.

To honor Prof. Tobin and his scholarship, alumni Stephen Freidheim and David Swensen (also Yale’s CIO) created the Tobin Scholars Prize in 2012, which is annually awarded up to four seniors majoring in Economics or Economics and Math for outstanding performance in core theory courses.  To better understand Professor Tobin’s impact the two men and what he meant to them, we posed a few questions to the alumni.

Why did you decide to create the prize?
 

Stephen Freidheim: Professor Tobin had a profound impact on me. Firstly, he was a central figure in macroeconomics, who opened my mind (and those of hundreds of his students) to a broad spectrum of economic theory from formalized risk theories to specific econometric models, from general macro theory to specific behavioral theories and economic policies. He was a great teacher and a great listener. It was clear that Jim Tobin loved teaching and loved Yale. However, what had the deepest impact on me, was my discovery that his devotion to the study of economics was driven by his awareness of the human and economic waste of the Great Depression, and his desire that his life’s work in this field could make a major difference for the welfare of people. He devoted his energy and vast intellect to the betterment of people and society. He was both brilliant and compassionate.

David Swensen: Steve Friedheim approached me a number of years ago to talk about ways that we might support the Economics Department and honor Jim Tobin. We found that, unlike many other departments at Yale, Economics had few, if any, ways to recognize undergraduates. The solution was simple: create Tobin Scholars to honor academic excellence.
 

Did you have a connection to Prof. Tobin that led to your creating the prize named in his honor?
 

SF: Yes, I was his student and he was my senior thesis advisor, so we worked closely while I was a student at Yale in the 80’s. After I graduated we remained in contact. Over the years, he recommended a handful of his students to come work with me in the investment world. Many of these individuals have gone forward and built careers as investors and businesses that are doing very well today. I, along with these professionals, and the many, many others who were impacted by Jim over the years– are proud members of Tobin’s Army.

DS: Jim Tobin had a profound impact on my life. As a teacher, he emphasized the importance of employing first principles when addressing problems. As my advisor, he demanded clear, crisp prose, knowing that sloppy writing often stood side by side with sloppy thinking. As a mentor, he told me to do something with my life that matters and he helped (along with Bill Brainard) to open the door for my return to Yale to manage the Endowment. I’m thrilled that Jim’s memory will be sustained, in part, by the Tobin Scholars.
 

What has been the students’ reaction to winning the prize?

 

SF: It’s clearly been positive at least on two levels. First, the prize (awarded to the top students in the economics department by its faculty) has helped revive Tobin’s legacy and his theories both among the students and the faculty. There’s renewed buzz on campus about the great man behind the prestigious prize, which has been so enjoyable for me to witness and in which to take part. Second, the students value the award as evidenced by the resumes that I receive when recruiting for the world’s top undergraduate talent every year. Winners of the Tobin Scholar prize will proudly (and prominently) list the award on their resumes and cover letters. The award is always a topic for conversation during interviews as well.
 

What advice do you have for undergraduates pursuing a degree in economics?

 

SF: The great part of the quintessential liberal arts education at Yale was that it taught me how to think. During my four years at Yale I explored arguments and theories (across a myriad subjects). We studied them, took them apart, and learned how thought and theory built upon one other. It opened my mind to appreciate and respect a wide spectrum of thought and methodologies. It taught me how to approach theories critically and how to address questions and problems.

A soft science major like Economics has the advantage of combining the rigor of learning complex theories and formulas within the openness of a real world in which these very theories and formulas get put to the test. Studying great economic theories that eventually failed in the real world, helps develop a critical mind. Tinkering with the details and then thinking broadly, and back again to sweating the detail was great fun. Such mental dexterity that an Economics major develops in a young mind is particularly useful in professional life. Fresh out of Yale on Wall Street the economic, behavioral, and market theories that underpin our economic world, all seemed far less practical than the hard accounting and finance majors that many of my peers had earned. However, one quickly learns the specific technical rules on the job. The advantages of the liberal arts economics major, starts bearing fruit quickly and enduringly– the ability to adroitly manipulate basic and complex relationships within and among businesses and markets with a critical mind is useful throughout so many professions in investing, finance, business (both old and new economy) and consulting (and likely many other endeavors).

Today (just as it was in the 80’s), Economics is a major where you justly get out what you put in. At Yale the Economics major has tremendous breadth of subject matter and levels of difficulty. There are heavily quantitative courses that can challenge the brightest mathematical minds, theoretical and conceptual courses for the finest abstract thinkers, rigorous courses, as well as easier courses with lower workloads. I’d encourage all Economics majors to put aside any fear of workload or difficulty, to challenge yourselves, to choose courses that excite and test your young minds, and you’ll reap the benefits throughout your careers.

Finally, if you have the opportunity to study under a teacher like Jim Tobin or David Swensen– by all means grab it! Yale is blessed to have great professors, scholars and TA’s. From them you can learn far more than just great theories (and, yes, you will be exposed to amazing ways of thinking)– you will gain exposure to deeply principled men and women that may inspire you throughout your careers. Such life lessons can be invaluable deep into your career, as I have found. From Jim’s example, his students were exposed to many of life’s principles– many of which guide my business today– intellectual honesty in all aspects of ones work, clarity and precision in the expression of all ideas, respect for all people, unabashed competitiveness, and personal modesty. Incredible that a man of Jim Tobin’s stature and accomplishments gave his students the lesson of modesty.


 

Any additional comments?

 

SF: Yes, I created the prize with David Swensen. David in many ways embodies all the best virtues that I so admire in Jim Tobin. David, like Jim, has advanced economic and portfolio theories that are brilliant and impactful. In addition, like Jim, David’s luminous scholarship, beautiful mind and tireless energies are devoted to the betterment of Yale and society more broadly. David has accomplished this firstly by developing and implementing portfolio theories that have radically reshaped Yale’s endowment, which has allowed for such things as need-blind admissions (which didn’t exist when I was a student at Yale). David’s greatest gift to society to date, however, may be that he continues to develop his own army dedicated to helping other institutions of higher learning and charitable organizations by implementing these portfolio investment theories. In doing so, David’s impact on the welfare of society and so many individuals is profound, enduring, and growing. So, it is wholly appropriate that David Swensen is the one to hand out the Tobin Scholar prizes every year to the winning students. 


For more on Professor Tobin’s life, work, and accomplishments, visit the Tobin Project website.

Stephen Freidheim is the CIO, Founder and Managing Partner of Cyrus Capital Partners.  He co-founded the predecessor company in August 1999.  He was Managing Director and Partner at Bankers Trust Company and head of its Capital Management Group from 1993 to 1999, where he was responsible for proprietary trading and client investments in high yield and distressed.  In addition, he was Chief Investment Officer of Fixed Income.  He was the Director of Research and Trading and a member of Board of Directors for Nomura Corporate Research & Asset Management from 1990-93.  Mr. Freidheim started his career at Kidder, Peabody in 1986, where he became its youngest-ever Vice President and was Director of High Yield Research at Kidder, Peabody Asset Management until 1990.  He serves on several boards and committees including the Council on Foreign Relations, the Peterson Institute, the Children’s Home & Aid Society of Illinois, and the U.S. Olympic Committee. Through his foundation he supports child education. He graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Economics in 1986.     

David Swensen is Yale’s CIO, overseeing $22 billion in Endowment assets and several hundreds of millions of dollars of other investment funds. Under his stewardship during the past 28 years the Yale Endowment generated returns of 13.8 percent per annum, a record unequalled among institutional investors. Mr. Swensen leads a staff of 30, located near the University’s campus in downtown New Haven. Prior to joining Yale in 1985, Mr. Swensen spent six years on Wall Street–three years at Lehman Brothers and three years at Salomon Brothers–where his work focused on developing new financial technologies. At Salomon Brothers, he structured the first swap, a currency transaction involving IBM and the World Bank. Mr. Swensen authored Pioneering Portfolio Management: An Unconventional Approach to Institutional Investment and Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment, both published by The Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. His books have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

 

Class Year: ‘80

Liebschutz Leads in Many Areas


David Liebschutz JD/MPP is the principal of DSLeadership, LLC, a strategic planning and leadership consulting firm, and a public service professor at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany and an adjunct professor of management at Siena College.


Liebschutz, David

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