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MFM codirector Lars Peter Hansen shared this overview of the initiative’s first Summer Session for Young Scholars.

Many years ago I participated in a project supported by the National Research Council that was designed to nurture linkages between mathematics and the sciences. Through this experience I was introduced to an exciting cross-disciplinary teaching opportunity called the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Program at Woods Hole.

This summer program, which was founded in 1959, brought leading faculty from diverse backgrounds together with promising young scholars who shared a common interest in nonlinear dynamics. The goal was to introduce them to a then relatively new topic in mathematical physics, geophysical fluid dynamics.

Lars Peter Hansen, MFM Co-Director

In 2000, the National Research Council published a book on the program that suggested it “could serve as a model for introducing senior scientists, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows to cross-disciplinary research and for sustaining their interest in and commitment to such research.” The possibilities for replicating this approach stayed with me. I remained curious to see if a similar program could be productive in economics.

The culmination of that ambition came in June 2016, as Andrew Lo of MIT and I planned and led a new offering: the MFM Summer Session for Young Scholars. The sessions immersed students in an exploration of the linkages between macroeconomics and finance, with the goal of advancing quantitative and empirical work on macro models aimed at supporting prudent policy-making. Interestingly enough, the event was held in Harwich, MA, on Cape Cod, not too far from Woods Hole.

Through this inaugural conference, almost 50 young scholars from around the world gained the opportunity to engage in many informal discussions with senior experts from academia, the private sector, and research groups from governmental agencies, much in the way envisioned in the 2000 NRC report. They also listened to panel discussions on key topics and made important new contacts with other young scholars with closely related research interests.

The panel discussions highlighted various challenges and opportunities faced by the experts; the lectures focused on evidence and methods, new data sources, research challenges in the private and governmental sectors, and methods for addressing complexity and big data.

Among many lectures, Deborah Lucas reminded the young scholars that the government itself is a “systematically important financial institution” that warrants scrutiny. Antoinette Schoar reported that we still have much to learn about the systemic impact of housing finance, and Christopher Sims argued that there remain open empirical questions about the linkages between credit cycles and business cycles. Simon Gilchrist looked at inflation dynamics and firm behavior during the financial crisis and discussed its implications for monetary policy.

Students also learned about modeling advances featuring nonlinear transition mechanisms induced by financing restrictions from Yuliy Sannikov, Jarda Borovička, and myself.

In contrast to some of the other summer camps in economics, many of the young scholars were sufficiently advanced to present their own research for informal scrutiny and feedback.  We had 17 posters in multiple sessions and 9 student presentations that contributed notably to the conversation and exchange.

This first conference was a great start for a program that I sincerely hope will nurture important research long into the future.

–Lars Peter Hansen

Agenda

Saturday, June 11, 2016
Computation in Heterogeneous-Agent Models with Financial Frictions
Yuliy Sannikov, Jack Steele Parker Professor of Economics, Stanford Graduate School of Business
Inflation Dynamics During the Financial Crisis
Simon Gilchrist, Professor of Economics , New York University
Dynamic Valuation in Macroeconomic Models with Financing Restrictions
Lars Peter Hansen, The David Rockefeller Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and Statistics, the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics and the Booth School of Business; Director of BFI's Macro Finance Research Program
Term Structure of Risk Prices and Exposures in Nonlinear Models
Jarda Borovicka
Bayesian Estimation and Model Evaluation
Frank Schorfheide
Credit and Crises
Christopher Sims
Sunday, June 12, 2016
The Role of Mortgage Markets for the Macro Economy
Antoinette Schoar
Beyond the Fed: Incorporating Government Financial Institutions and Policies into Macro Models
Deborah Lucas
Algorithmic and High Frequency Trading, Liquidity, Latency and Regulation
Andrei Kirilenko
Panel Discussion: Research Challenges from the Private Sector

Panelists:

Darryll Hendricks, UBS Investment Bank
Bluford Putnam, CME Group
Ronald Ratcliffe, BlackRock

Big Data, Model Complexity, and Interpretability - Machine Learning and Finance
Sanmay Das
Accounting - The Procyclicality of Bank Accounting Rules Before and After the Financial Crisis
Anne Beatty
Panel Discussion: Research Challenges Faced by Regulators

Panelists:

Nina Boyarchenko, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Laura Kodres, International Monetary Fund
Akhtar Siddique, US Treasury

Moderator:
Andrew W. Lo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, moderator

Nina Boyarchenko
Laura Kodres
Akhtar Siddique
Frontiers of Research: Young Scholars Poster Session and Presentation
Challenge to Students: Tackling Unanswered Questions from the Financial Crisis
Andrew W. Lo, Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor; Director, MIT Sloan School of Management; MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering