James

James

Area: Research and Statistics
Title: Senior Financial Economist
Education: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); University of New South Wales, Australia

Why the Fed?

The New York Fed has a tremendously stimulating and challenging environment, with great colleagues and resources, unparalleled access to data and institutional knowledge of the financial system, and the chance to work on some key policy and research questions.

My Responsibilities

Like all Ph.D. economists in the Research, I split my time between policy projects and long-term "academic-style” research. I've contributed to policy projects relating to the Supervisory Capital Assessment Program (SCAP) or “bank stress test” conducted by the Fed in 2009; the housing government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; the large-scale asset purchase programs (LSAPs) conducted by the Fed as part of our response to the financial crisis; and the design of then-proposed Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) reverse auctions in 2008. For each project, I’m generally part of a team that includes Research colleagues, people from other areas of the New York Fed, and sometimes participants from other policy institutions, as well.

In my long-term research, I write papers for academic journals on topics relating to the U.S. financial system and emerging markets finance. I’m currently working on papers on the agency mortgage market, structured finance credit ratings, the interbank market and index insurance in emerging economies. I also present my work at academic conferences, and referee and discuss the work of others, just as a university professor might.

Challenges and Rewards of My Job

The best thing about my job is the interplay between policy work and long-term academic research. Policy projects often provide data or inspiration for research topics. Results from academic research often have an important bearing on real-world policy decisions taken by the Fed. New York Fed Research is also a really intellectually stimulating environment, both because of the high quality of the staff, and because we regularly interact with top academic thinkers through our Research visitor and seminar programs.

The biggest challenge is probably prioritizing and juggling my time. There are really so many things to work on—especially in the wake of the financial crisis and the push toward regulatory reform—that I have to be careful to focus on the most important questions, and use my time wisely.

How Is the Fed Unique?

Fed staff have the talent and resources to think about problems in an unusually careful and rigorous way, and then help implement the fruits of that thinking in (dare I say) the "real world," through the Fed’s key role in monetary policy and financial supervision. For example, no other central bank comes close to the Fed in terms of staff contributions to the published academic literature on macroeconomics and finance. The same people writing those papers are also very actively involved in policy debates, and apply that same rigor to thinking about key policy questions. That’s tremendously valuable, especially during a time like the financial crisis, which called for creative solutions in the face of an environment unlike anything we’d seen before.