The impact of government policy on domestic, international and financial issues
Adam Spencer is an Assistant Professor in Economics. His broad area of study is macroeconomics.
I aspire to be able to have my research contribute to both academic debates but to also help inform policy decisions.
What are your research interests?
My broad area of study is macroeconomics. I’m interested in questions pertaining to the impact of government policy on domestic, international and financial issues. I use economic models and computational tools to answer these questions and they’re often quantitative in nature. For instance: what would be the percentage change in GDP caused by reducing the corporate tax rate by 1%?
What inspired you to pursue this field?
You can open-up a newspaper each day and see tons of interesting economic concepts interacting, so it’s not hard to motivate the study of these issues. From a methodological viewpoint, it’s great fun to do math, play with computers and to present your findings to researchers both verbally and in written form. A professor I had in graduate school described economics as formal mathematics applied to important social problems: this synthesis really summarises my attraction to the field.
What is the impact of your research?
It’s a bit early to say at this early stage. But I aspire to be able to have my research contribute to both academic debates but to also help inform policy decisions.
How does you research influence your teaching?
I’ve gotten a lot of benefit in the past from giving lectures in my classes on the specific topics I work on for research. To teach something, you need to be very clear on the intuition and reasoning behind a result. Distilling my findings into a compact story that I can tell to a group of students is very useful for clarifying my own understanding.
What are the challenges in your field?
Isolating the impact of some policy change can be difficult to do due to confounding factors. For instance, some of my research studies the impact of changes to the tax treatment of multinationals in the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Inferring this effect in the face of other largescale policies, like the trade war, is challenging to do by looking at the data alone. This is part of the reason why we use economic models: you construct a laboratory with firms and households behaving optimally and calibrate it to data. You can then use it to run policy counterfactuals without having to worry about such confounders.