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Economist to Discuss Fiscal Cause and Effect

Friday, March 9, 2018
Image for Nobel Economist lecture guest at Trinity University

Speaker at Trinity University won 2011 Nobel Prize in Economics for research on monetary policies

by Susie P. Gonzalez

Christopher A. Sims, who was awarded the 2011 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy, will share his findings in the Trinity Nobel Economist Lecture Series at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 4 in Laurie Auditorium.

His talk is part of the ongoing lecture series, “My Evolution as an Economist,” begun in 1984 by the late E.M. Stevens Distinguished Professor of Economics William Breit. The series brings some of the most brilliant and influential economists of the post-war era to campus.

Sims and his colleague, Thomas J. Sargent, were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2011 for statistically distinguishing between cause and effect, which has long been a challenging issue confronting economists and other social scientists. Sargent spoke at Trinity’s Economists series in 2015.

Sims popularized “vector autoregression" (VAR) as a preferred method of distinguishing between cause and effect. Many economists and non economists have since employed VARs, which can provide a visual pattern over time of the relationships among multiple variables.

In other macroeconomic work, he has examined fiscal policy connections to prices and alternatives to rational expectations, termed “rational inattention.”  That is, if information is costly to interpret, many people may become inattentive, resulting in less rapid changes in product prices and quantities than implied by the rational expectations hypothesis.

Sims completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard as a math major. Following a year of economics graduate study at the University of California Berkeley, he returned to finish his Ph.D. at Harvard. He taught there briefly before accepting a post at the University of Minnesota, where he remained for 20 years. Then, following a move to Yale, he settled in 1999 at Princeton, where he is now the John J.F. Sherrod ’52 University Professor of Economics.

He has been a Visiting Scholar at several Federal Reserve Banks and at the International Monetary Fund. He served as president of the Econometric Society and, in 2010, was elected president of the American Economic Association for the year 2012.

The Nobel Economist Lecture Series is sponsored by Trinity’s Department of Economics and made possible by the late Gen. Elbert DeCoursey and Mrs. Esther DeCoursey of San Antonio. The series offers rare autobiographical insights into each Nobel Laureate’s contributions, growth, and success as a scholar as well as the sources and nature of his or her ideas and discoveries. For more information, contact Trinity’s economics department at 210-999-7221.