Conversations with Economists Lecture Series

Conversations with Economists is presented by the Boston University Department of Economics and is open to the public. For information, please contact Norma Hardeo at or 617-353-4623.

Upcoming Lectures

There are no lectures currently scheduled.

Previous Lectures

Thursday, November 14, 2013: Quantitative Easing and the Role of Forward Guidance

Time: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: Hillel House, 213 Bay State Road

Presented by Michael P. Dooley, UCSC

Michael P. Dooley joined the faculty at UCSC in 1992 following more than twenty years service at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Research Department of the International Monetary Fund. His research covers a range of issues in open economy macroeconomics including Bretton Woods II, crises in emerging markets, debt management, capital controls, capital flight and liberalization of financial markets. He is a Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research, International Research Fellow, Kiel Institute of World Economics and edit the International Journal of Finance and Economics.

Other affiliations have included visiting teaching positions at Bucknell University, George Washington University, the University of Texas, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, the IMF Institute, the World Bank Economic Development Institute and the Kiel Institute of World Economics. Consulting relationships include the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the Federal Reserve Board and the Bank of Japan.

Register for the event at the BU Center for Finance, Law & Policy website.

Thursday, October 3, 2013: The US is Bankrupt and Nobody Knows It

Time: 5:00 to 6:30 pm

Location: Room 315, Department of Economics, 264 Bay State Road

Presented by Larry Kotlikoff, William Fairfield Warren Professor and Professor of Economics, Boston University

The US is, perhaps, in the worst long-term fiscal shape of any developed country, including Greece. But rather than face the facts, successive Administrations have dug our country into an ever deeper hole. This Conversation with Economists will explain why things are so bad, explain how to fix them, explain why things won’t get fixed, and clarify the economic carnage that will likely result.

Monday, April 8, 2013: The Euro Crisis

Time: 5:00 to 6:30 pm

Location: Room 315, Department of Economics, 264 Bay State Road

Presented by Hans-Werner Sinn, President, Ifo Institute

The Eurozone is experiencing a major crisis. In his lecture, Hans-Werner Sinn offers insights into the current situation and shows that system failure poses a threat to Germany, and is forcing it to make concessions in negotiations over bailout packages.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013: Stand-Up Economist Yoram Bauman

Time: 5:30 to 7:00pm

Location: Morse Auditorium, 602 Commonwealth Avenue

Presented by Yoram Bauman, PhD

The world’s first and only stand-up economist. Comedian, author, and economist!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012: Left Populism in Bolivia: Economic Policies and Consequences

Time: 5:00 to 6:30 pm

Location: Room 315, Department of Economics, 264 Bay State Road

Presented by Juan Antonio Morales, Former President of the Central Bank of Bolivia

Juan Antonio Morales will present a critical examination of the policies and politics of the government of Evo Morales.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012: Culture Change: The Greatest Challenge in Business

Time: 5:30 to 7:00pm

Location: Room 315, Department of Economics, 270 Bay State Road

Presented by Steve Brown, Former Chairman and CEO of John Hancock Financial Services

Mr. Brown believes that corporate culture is both the most critical determinant of success, and the most difficult thing to change. He will illustrate this in relation to his own career at John Hancock, and comment, as well, on the impact of corporate culture on the many ethical and other issues we read about in today’s business pages.

Thursday, September 27, 2012: Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius

Time: 4:00 to 5:30pm

Location: Photonics Room 206, 8 St. Mary’s Street

Presented by Sylvia Nasar

In a sweeping narrative, the author of A Beautiful Mind will take you on a journey through modern history with the men and women who changed the lives of every single person on the planet. It’s the epic story of the making of modern economics, and of how economics rescued mankind from squalor and deprivation by placing its material fate in its own hands rather than in fate.

Monday, October 3, 2011: International Money

Time: 5:30 to 7pm

Location: CAS, Room 224, 725 Commonwealth Avenue (map)

Presented by Philip Turner, Bank of International Settlements (BIS)

What is international money? The 2007–2009 financial crisis has given this old question new life. Central banks are not only the ultimate providers of domestic money, but also have the capacity to influence exchange rates and long-term debt markets. Because most international contracts are in dollars, the Federal Reserve has a pivotal role that has been reinforced by the crisis. But the massive dollar investments of other central banks also have an impact.What the international banking system does to “multiply” (or more recently“divide”) the money that central banks “create” will change over time. We try to understand how central banks should in turn respond to the reactions of international banks.

March 28, 2011: Trailer Park Economics

Time: 6:00 to 7:30 pm

Location: CAS, Room 313, 725 Commonwealth Avenue (map)

Presented by
Charles M. Becker, Research Professor of Economics, Associate Department Chair, Duke University
Caitlin Gorback, Research Assistant, Federal Reserve Bank, New York, undergraduate honors student, Duke

While the mortgage crisis has focused attention on the housing market, virtually no attention has been paid to a particular segment—manufactured housing. And within the manufactured housing market, of particular interest is the peculiar American institution of mobile home parks. Yet manufactured housing and trailer parks are important components of the housing market, especially in the southeast and southwest. In North Carolina, more than 1.5 million of the state’s 9 million people live in manufactured housing. Yet, those who live in trailer parks have minimal security of tenure: as a rule, structure and site owners differ, “mobile” homes are not really mobile, and homeowners face disastrous losses if evicted. We explore economic models that would give rise to this phenomenon—there turns out to be several—and offer preliminary empirical indications of the importance of different explanations.

March 31, 2011: Psychology of a Superorganism: Collective Decision-making by Ant Colonies

Time: 5:00 to 6:30 pm

Location: 264 Bay State Road, Room 315

Presented by Stephen Pratt, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University

Ant colonies can be thought of as “superorganisms” that combine the actions of many individuals into a highly integrated whole. Like an organism, a colony acts as a single cognitive entity, making decisions about what to eat, where to live, and how to defend itself. I will describe the behavioral rules and communication networks that allow many poorly informed ants to make a good collective choice. Borrowing ideas from psychology and economics, I will show how colonies amplify the limited cognitive capacity of single ants and how they evade certain irrational consequences of individual choice.