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Skidmore College
Economics Department

Class of 2020 Economics Majors Present Their Research

Zoom call with students

On Friday, May 8, fifteen economics majors from the Class of 2020 presented their senior thesis work to their peers, their faculty, and their biggest cheerleader, Administrative Assistant Amelia Clarke, over Zoom. Student research ranged from microfinance and cash transfers to the economic viability of NHL expansion teams to the effects of cutting unemployment compensation.

The full program is available here:

“Your projects show creativity. They represent careful thought about what factors are relevant and critical in some context, and what causal relations may be at play. Your projects also show humility. Beyond the notion of statistical significance, you discussed the limitations of your data, what may be missing from your analysis, and that your results may not hold, may not be relevant, in other places or at other times under different circumstances. Economies are constantly changing. There are no laws of gravity in economics. Human behavior may sometimes be roughly predictable. But humans are also full of surprises. The economy constantly offers change and surprises to us. That’s part of what makes economics so fascinating, challenging, and, at times, confounding. Keynes thought that is was better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.

So the economist must show both creativity and humility!

But especially in these times I would add and emphasize a third characteristic: honesty. Honesty seems more critical than ever in view of the ongoing health crisis, which also is an extraordinary economic crisis.”

“The moral is: fruitful intellectual engagement, including admiration of intellectual adversaries, is possible even when politics don’t align. That may seem impossible in today’s climate of rampant lies and dishonesty, our post-truth society. But it is not. We are free to choose. As economists we can choose to be creative, humble, and intellectually honest. We can choose to resist providing politically convenient cover, and choose to speak truth to power instead, for instance, by investigating the deadly impact of misinformation during a pandemic.

Congratulations to you all! Be well and stay safe! And stay in touch!”

Professor Joerg Bibow, excerpts from closing remarks, Class of 2020, Department of Economics Senior Thesis Presentations