Two economics faculty members share expertise on inflation
Two St. Olaf College faculty members recently appeared in the media to provide expertise on the latest numbers on the economy, and their interviews emphasize the caliber of St. Olaf’s economics faculty as the department expands and grows.
Assistant Professor of Economics Allison Luedtke, whose research includes network economics and macroeconomics, appeared on a recent American Public Media Marketplace segment aired on National Public Radio. Luedtke’s expertise informed a discussion about the success of the Federal Reserve’s efforts to slow inflation and how that success is evident from recent shifts in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “If I’m the Fed and I look at that number, I mean, that’s close — to me — ideal,” she told Marketplace.
Assistant Professor of Economics Marcus Bansah’s research includes macroeconomics, monetary economics, and international economics. He participated in a recent Twin Cities Public Television and PBS Almanac program panel discussion to discuss how housing and energy prices have fallen in the Twin Cities over the past year. Bansah also recently spoke with Minnesota Public Radio about inflation in the Twin Cities.
“I think Minnesota is leading the way in terms of how inflation has fallen,” he told MPR, “and if other states can follow suit, then it means that we have to kind of bring increasing interest rates to a close so that we can focus on other goals.”
It’s the expertise of faculty members like Luedtke and Bansah that drives growth in the economics program at St. Olaf. The quantitative economics degree, which was first offered in 2021, is part of that growth. To earn this degree, students must complete the standard economics degree, plus additional math classes and several quantitative research experiences.
“Economics has always been a high-demand major for employers, but with the increase in data availability, employers really want economists who are good with data, mathematics, and computer programming,” says Luedtke.
Although the quantitative economics degree is relatively new to St. Olaf, the program is skyrocketing in popularity. While eleven students completed the degree in 2021, that number more than doubled to 28 in 2022, and further increased to 36 in 2023. This year, there are nearly 100 students majoring in quantitative economics.
“Economics has always been a high-demand major for employers, but with the increase in data availability, employers really want economists who are good with data, mathematics, and computer programming.”Assistant Professor of Economics Allison Luedtke
While Luedtke and Bansah are cultivating the next generation of economists in the classroom, they also help students apply their knowledge to real-world scenarios. Bansah is one of the co-creators of the Economics Research Fellows Program, which offers students the chance to conduct research alongside faculty members. This program is exciting because the work students do mirrors that of their future careers, whether that be at a consulting firm or for the Federal Reserve.
Top-tier faculty and experiential learning both lead to Oles becoming the sort of people who are perfect for the difficult and nuanced task of balancing the world’s largest economy. From lead financial analysts to research assistants to vice presidents, Oles are contributing to the field of economics in ways that profoundly impact all of our lives.