2020-21 Economics Newsletter

In This Issue

New Things Going On with the Major 

We are pleased that, according to the latest enrollment statistics, the Economics Department is growing in terms of the number of majors in our program. This is an exciting time to be studying economics, and we are delighted that more and more students are choosing it as their academic major. Our department has an excellent job placement record for our graduates, and we hope to continue that history of success with our current and future students by preparing them for careers in the private, nonprofit, and government sectors.

The Economics Department held its annual meeting with our Economics Advisory Board on February 1. The Advisory Board is composed of distinguished leaders in our community as well as some of our accomplished economics alumni who have gone on to successful professional careers. The advisory board meetings provide us with an opportunity to update our board members on the latest developments in our department and to solicit feedback and suggestions on how we can continue to improve our academic program.

This semester, we are offering a course on Law and Economics, which will be excellent preparation for students who are interested not only in economics but also in law and political science. The course also should provide an excellent foundation for our economics students who plan to go on to law school. In addition, we are pleased that some of our economics courses are part of a proposal for a new Certificate in Behavioral Finance.

Throughout the past year, the Economic Research Institute of Erie has focused its research on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local economy. Our research has been disseminated widely through presentations to the local community, news media interviews, and our ERIE Leading Index (ELI) special reports. In August, we provided analysis and commentary for an NBC News Weekend Report, which focused on the impact of providing extended unemployment benefits to workers adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

—Dr. Kenneth Louie, director of the Economics Research Institute of Erie and associate professor of economics

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Kenneth Louie, Associate Professor of Economics 

Ken Louie

Dr. Louie is director of the Economic Research Institute of Erie and associate professor of economics in the Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend.

Where is economics heading next?

Like many other academic disciplines, economics is harnessing the power of “Big Data” to deepen and enrich our understanding of economic and social phenomena. This is an especially exciting development because it will not only allow us to see economic trends that may have been previously hidden, but it will also empower us to make better decisions both at the micro and macro (policy) levels, which can lead to improved economic well-being.

What book should every economist read?

Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Alumni Spotlight 

Hannah Carlino

Hannah Carlino ’19

Hannah Carlino is a financial analyst for Thermo Fisher Scientific and reports sales, margins, and growth statistics from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica.

Which Behrend course has helped you the most in your career?

The most beneficial course I took at Behrend was the social and behavioral economics course with Dr. Mark Owens, associate professor of economics. The course opened my mind to understanding how people rationalize their decisions on a deeper and even subconscious level. This helps me make choices and understand the choices of others, and even predict what decisions people will make.

What is one of the most interesting/unique aspects of your job?

The most interesting aspect of my current job is being a liaison between finance functions and business analytics. I help my finance team collaborate with our business insights team to build automated tools for efficiency and accuracy.

Student Spotlight 

John Siarkowski

John Siarkowski ’23

John Siarkowski majors in Business Economics and Finance with minors in Accounting and Politics and Government. He is also president of the Society of Undergraduate Economists.

Why did you choose Business Economics? What attracted you to it?

I was attracted to Business Economics after taking Introductory Microeconomic Analysis and Policy (Econ 102) with Travis Yates, lecturer in economics, my first year. I was originally a Mechanical Engineering student but found that I loved economics more and switched my major. I love being able to see how actions affect the world and markets.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received at Behrend?

The best advice that I have received is that you should truly follow your passion and interests. College is the time for you to explore your interests, and there are so many professors and faculty that want you to succeed in what you choose to do.

Club Updates and More

The Society of Undergraduate Economists (SUE) has gone totally virtual this year due to the pandemic. Upper-class students have been able to advise newer students of interesting classes to take, provide helpful tips they have learned at Behrend, and offer homework and exam help. SUE is one of the leaders in planning the annual Black School of Business trip, but, due to the pandemic, there will not be a trip in 2021. SUE is actively looking for new members and is open to any student on campus. For information about SUE, please contact Dr. Val Vlad, associate teaching professor of economics and club adviser for SUE, at [email protected] or 814-898-6093.