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Department of Economics

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Economics Department
Kansas State University
327 Waters Hall
1603 Old Claflin Place
Manhattan, KS 66506
785-532-6919 fax



News from the department of economics

New Assistant Professors 

Amanda GaulkeWe are pleased to welcome three new assistant professors to the department. Amanda (Mandy) Gaulke received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Her research interests are public economics, labor economics, and the economics of education.  Mandy’s work has focused on how financial aid and tuition policies affect if and when people enroll in college. She is also researching bachelor degree recipients who later enroll in training programs.

Jin WangJin Wang’s research interests lie in industrial organization and applied econometrics. Her current research examines quality screening and its impacts on platform users’ choices in two-sided market industries. She also works on topics related to information revelation and consumers’ search behaviors. Jin received her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.Zheng Fang

Zheng Fang earned his Ph.D. from U.C. San Diego. His research area is econometric theory, with a focus on semiparametric and nonparametric models. Currently, Zheng is working on optimal estimation and valid inference in nonstandard settings. A large portion of his research is also devoted to resampling methods such as bootstrap. 

Amanda, Jin and Zheng are all moved in and ready to go. We are proud to have these excellent economists join our team.

Economics Club Activity 2014-2015

Economics Club ActivityThe economics club had another very successful academic year in 2014-15. We hosted a series of speakers who spoke about a variety of current economic topics and hosted arguably our most successful economic debate ever. We collected data for the Student Price Index (up 4.7% from 2013) for the thirteenth consecutive year and coverage of the SPI was featured on KMAN Radio, The Manhattan Mercury and The K-State Collegian.

The speakers we hosted included:

Tom Hemmer, CEO of Solomon Corporation

Bryan Riley, Senior Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation, ““Understanding the Effects of Policies Promoting Free Trade”

Kevin McBeth, Associate Actuary at Crum and Forster, “The Leveraged Effects of Inflation”

Dennis Dautel, CEO of Landscapes USA

Brad Edwards, Edward Jones and Tim Weddle of Keating and Associates, who spoke to the club about financial advising

Katherine Stocks, Legal Associate at Goldblatt, Martin and Pozen

Robert Litan of the Brookings Institute, “Economists are More Important Than You May Think!”

We also hosted our third annual economics club debate featuring David Autor of MIT and Kevin Murphy from the University of Chicago. They discussed the question of “Should we be Worried about Rising Inequality in Developed Countries?" in front of a packed Town Hall at Leadership Studies. This debate series is underwritten by the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation. After the debate our club members, featured speakers and several faculty members attended a reception at Wahoo! Fire and Ice Grill where various economic issues continued to be discussed by students and faculty.

We also attended private discussions with both Dr. Autor and Dr. Murphy in advance of our debate and hosted a reception for Bryan Riley. All of our speakers did an excellent job and students took full advantage of the opportunities to visit with our speakers. We also hosted several bowling nights and K-State “watch parties”.

Econ Club Faculty Advisor Dan Kuester shared the following comments, “It is very difficult to express how highly regarded our two debate speakers are in the field of economics. Despite this acclaim, both speakers were extremely gracious in sharing their time meeting with our students both before and after the debate and the reception at Wahoo was extremely well attended. Also I know that speakers such as Bryan Riley and Bob Litan stimulated some great questions and discussion even after their presentations are over. It’s always great to have recent alums such as Kevin, Brad and Tim share their experiences with our students.”

“We had a great set of speakers this year” said Christa Deneault, past and current economics club officer, “I have been in the club for several years and our average attendance and enthusiasm was extremely impressive this year. I really liked Mr. Riley’s speech which was compelling but factually based. Also hearing from successful entrepreneurs such as Mr. Hemmer and Mr. Dautel is exciting and inspiring.”

One highlight of the year was our field trip to Wichita. Fifteen students and two faculty members heard from Rod Wilson, President of Air Capital Interiors and met with many different leaders and economists

at Koch Industries. To cap the day, Paul Atwater of Morgan Stanley arranged for an afternoon reception with our students hosted by several business leaders in the Wichita area.

The club recently elected new officers for the 2014-15 academic year. They are

President –Shawna Smith Vice President – Lance Conklin

Secretary – Jehu Mette Treasurer – Christa Deneault

Economics Club Annual Trip to Wichita

Wichita Field TripOn April 24, 2015 the Kansas State University Economics Club participated in their annual field trip to Wichita, Kansas. All of the students enjoyed meetings at Air Capital Interiors and Koch Industries and the vast majority of the students were able to attend a reception at YaYa’s Restaurant hosted by Paul Atwater and a collection of business leaders in the Wichita area.

The group left campus early Friday morning after snacking on some Varsity Donuts and enjoyed their first visit of the day to Air Capital Interiors. K-State Alum Rod Wilson, President of Air Capital Interiors, gave the group of students a tour of the facility and provided a brief presentation about his history in the aviation industry and the success of this business. “I really enjoyed hearing from Mr. Wilson, said Kristina Wagner, graduating senior, ‘it is obvious that this company has a long term business plan that involves treating their customers fairly and with respect. It is obvious why they get so much repeat business from some individuals who may be high maintenance at times.”.

Kyle Ross, K-State Faculty Member added, “This was a great learning experience for our students. This is a business that focuses on refurbishing airlines and cost and weight of material are key components to consider. The students asked many thought provoking questions and Rod was very forthright about what makes this business successful.” Dan Kuester added, “I really appreciate how generous Rod was with his time. It was great he was able to attend the reception at YaYa’s and answer follow up questions from our students because they were very interested in the success of Air Capital Interiors.”

The majority of the day was spent at Koch Industries. After a brief description of the many businesses Koch Industries operates, students visited with Joe Woodward about career paths at Koch before hearing from recent economics graduate Gavin Koester and Yance Farney about their work in trading fertilizer and its related components. This was an excellent example of “Economics in Action” as Gavin shared tremendous insight on both successful and unsuccessful trades he and his team have participated in. This also led to continued discussions about career opportunities at Koch.

The students and faculty then divided into small groups and each group met with two K-State alums who work at Koch over lunch. Again, opportunities for economics majors in general and at Koch specifically were the primary topic of the lunch. Recent graduate Nate Spriggs also took a minute to check in with these students.

After lunch, Dr. Steve Daley, President of Market Based Management LLC hosted a roundtable discussion with the students on macroeconomics in general and the proper role of government in the economy. This led to a stimulating discussion with many of our students about the optimal role of government and the workings of the invisible hand. This discussion was a lot of fun and stretched beyond the hour which had been allotted for it. Steve left the group with a recommended reading list and a number of things to think about!

After meeting with Steve the group spent several minutes with the Kansas State College Recruitment team at Koch. “I’m looking forward to meeting with the folks from Koch again in the fall’, said Shawna Smith, President Elect of the Econ Club, ‘the internship program there sounds really exciting and I know Dr. Kuester mentioned they would be speaking to the club on campus in early September.”

Faculty advisor Dan Kuester was very excited with the event. “Everyone in Wichita was a tremendous host for us. It is great to see so many of our recent alums succeeding at Koch Industries and we are excited to keep that opportunity open for our future graduates. Steve Daley does an excellent job of explaining how free market economies are supposed to work and I think he greatly enjoyed being challenged and questioned by some of our students. We had a tremendously interesting and spirited discussion.” 

Econ Club President Hannah Jones added. “I want to thank everyone that helped make this trip a success. We were able to learn a great deal about some very different businesses in a short time and meet with many different business leaders. I felt like we all made some great connections!”

The students that attended the trip were

Isa Cricco, Shawna Smith, Kristina Wagner, Makenzie Pohl, Hannah Jones, Abdulrahman Alkhiary, Trevor Steinman, Michaela Gleason, Jehu Mette, Yang Hu, Nick Bomberger, Fangzhou Zhou, Matt Lambert, Christa Hagedorn, Jules Yimga (grad student)

They were accompanied by

Dan Kuester – Faculty Advsior to the Economics Club and Kyle Ross Economics Faculty Member

Dr. Lloyd (Tom) Thomas retiring

Dr. Tom ThomasAt the end of this semester, Dr. Lloyd (Tom) Thomas is retiring. Tom has been an important part of the department for 47 years. He earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in economics from the University of Missouri in 1963 and 1964 and a Ph.D. in economics from Northwestern University in 1970. He was promoted to full professor in 1983.

Tom has served the KSU economics department in numerous roles, including chair of the faculty recruiting committee over most of the period from 1976 to 1996. He served as department head from 2004 to 2009. In this period he initiated the departmental newsletter, annual awards banquet, and the active recruiting of talented principles of economics students to major in economics. He also initiated the drive to endow the first departmental chair, the Trenary Chair in Economics. In addition, by soliciting contributions from graduate students and colleagues of former KSU Professors Ed Bagley and John Nordin, Thomas was instrumental in the endowment of the Bagley Award and Nordin Award, given annually to outstanding KSU graduate students in economics.

Tom has made numerous teaching and scholarly contributions to the economics department. He has served as major professor for more than 25 Ph.D. and M.A. students and published in numerous peer-refereed journals. His research interests have been principally in applied macroeconomics and financial market phenomena. Tom authored textbooks in money and banking and principles of economics in multiple editions with such publishers as Prentice-Hall, McGraw-Hill, HBJ, and Dryden Press. He published the second edition of his well-received book on the recent financial crisis with Palgrave-Macmillan in 2013.

Tom’s contribution to the teaching mission has been significant. Regularly teaching the large principles of macroeconomics and money and banking classes at KSU, Tom reckons he has taught more than 10,000 students over his long career. Throughout, his teaching has been characterized by exemplary effort and outcomes. He was recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Stamey Teaching Award in 1990, 1991, 1994, and 2001, and has been elected to “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.” Lloyd also gained teaching experience at Northwestern, Florida State University, University of California-Berkeley, University of Delaware, Indiana University, and Adelaide University in Australia.

Congratulations to Tom on all of his successes at K-State!

From the Linkedin group: New econometrics course to be offered this semester

BachmeierLance Bachmeier: I will be teaching a new course this semester, ECON 686: Economic Forecasting. As you would expect from the name of the course, I will be covering methods that are commonly used by economists to make forecasts, but I plan to do a lot more than that. I'm going to draw on my related experience in the areas of tax revenue forecasting, sales forecasting, and Federal Reserve forecasting. In particular, I am a member of the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group for the state of Kansas, and I plan to walk them through the process that we use to arrive at a forecast of tax revenues. Our next set of forecasts will be released in mid-April, so students will get to see how the process works in real time.

I hope students walk out of my class with some new skills. One is the ability to present their work to others. Whether they are reporting their findings to management, to coworkers, or to the public, they have to decide which of their results are important, and then they have to explain them clearly and concisely. Another skill is the ability to use a computer to clean and analyze a large dataset. R is a statistical package that is rapidly becoming popular with corporations, startups, and government agencies, and online job postings indicate that it is one of the most sought after skills. The students will be very comfortable with R when they leave my class.

As an aside, I will be using two textbooks that are (legally) freely available on the internet. They are "Forecasting: principles and practice" by Rob Hyndman and George Athanasopoulos and "Elements of Forecasting" by Frank Diebold. I'm happy to see the growing trend in the direction of open textbooks, and I was excited to find that the two best available textbooks on forecasting come with open licenses.

This class is being offered as part of the department's new distinction option. As part of this, students will complete a three course sequence of Introduction to Econometrics, Economic Forecasting, and a research methods course methods course being developed by Tracy Turner. This course sequence is one part of the improvements we will be making to the undergraduate program as we pursue our K-State 2025 goals. Ideally, it will make our students competitive for the best data analyst jobs.

New graduate student scholarship honors Dr. Wayne Nafziger

Wayne NafzigerK-State alumnus Jim Haymaker has generously endowed a graduate student scholarship in the Department of Economics. With this gift, the department is on its way to achieving its goal of increased support for graduate students. "Graduate students bring to the program exceptional enthusiasm and talent that cannot be matched in any other way," said Bill Blankenau, K-State economics department head. "Economics graduate students participate fully in the mission of the department. They contribute greatly to the department while they are here and have a global reach throughout their careers. Our graduate students teach more than 1,500 undergraduate students annually and contribute to the intellectual energy of the department. We are very grateful for this gift which will allow us to recruit and support excellent graduate students."

The scholarship will have the namesake of one the department's internationally distinguished professors, Dr. Wayne Nafizger (pictured above). "Wayne was one of the professors who really positively influenced my K-State experience," Haymaker said. "He gave me the special attention that K-State is known for and he helped to set me on a path to success. With this scholarship we will be able to bring the best and brightest to K-State to study economics." Blankenau added, "Wayne is a testament to the importance of what we do. To see Jim make this generous donation in Wayne's name shows the impact that higher education can have in our lives."

Nafziger is a University Distinguished Professor emeritus. He is the author or coauthor of more than 15 books, including a widely-known economics textbook and has published in prominent journals. In his nearly 50 years at K-State, he has travelled the world as a researcher and teacher. This includes time as a Fulbright Professor in India and a United Nations University Research Fellow in Oxford and Helsinki.

The new graduate scholarship is part of a joint effort with the alumni council to provide scholarships for students. With generous support from alumni and friends, great strides have been made in providing undergraduate scholarships. The department has gone from four annual scholarships to 23 in the past few years and several new scholarships will be given out next year. With this excellent momentum toward its goal of 35 undergraduate scholarships, the department and council are now additionally focusing on graduate scholarships. Attracting the best graduate students is an integral part of the department' ambitious K-State 2025 goals. With scholarship support for graduate students, the department will be able to offer funding at levels making it more competitive for exceptional talent. The new goal is to have five graduate scholarships endowed at $100,000 each. With the first already established, these efforts will have an immediate impact as the department recruits graduate students for the fall semester.

Distinguished economics grad gives back to K-State, credits university as ‘core’ of success 
CantrellBy Sheila Ellis-Glasper
Duane Cantrell, a 1978 K-State economics graduate, has an impressive business track record and credits his undergraduate experience at Kansas State University as the “foundation” of his career. “It is somewhat cliché that K-State grads exemplify a ‘strong work ethic’, but it is cliché because it is true,” Cantrell said. “I believe that one of the consistent values demonstrated and deeply ingrained in most K State grads is that work ethic and drive to do well and succeed.”
Cantrell’s extensive background in growing companies in tough competitive environments led him to his current role as the Kansas Bioscience Authority president and CEO. Before his role with KBA, he was a managing partner of Genus Consulting where he counseled clients on optimal performance whether they be equity fund managers in the retail sector, organizations undergoing transformational change or businesses looking to align culture, strategy and structure.
“While my career experiences and responsibilities have ranged widely across multiple disciplines and industries, at the core is my experience and education at K-State,” Cantrell said. “It is the foundation that has allowed me to have the confidence to take on new challenges, experience success and be able to give back to the University and State of Kansas.” Previously, and for more than 25 years, Duane worked at Payless Shoe Source, Inc., where he worked his way up to president and director, guiding a $185 million regional footwear retailer with 575 stores to an international footwear company with revenues of $3 billion with operations in more than 10 countries.  Cantrell previously served as chair of the KSU Foundation Board of Trustees, co-chaired a $500-million KSU campaign for scholarships, faculty enhancement and learning environment and served as board chair of the KSU College of Business Administration. In 2003, he was named a College of Business Administration Distinguished Alumni Fellow. Cantrell and his wife Leslee, have contributed generously to the K-State economics department.
“Duane and Leslee’s generosity will have a lasting impact on individual students and on the department. These scholarships have significance well beyond the essential financial assistance,” said Bill Blankenau, K-State economics department head. “They will help students stay focused on their studies and provide recognition of their achievements.” “The leadership of distinguished alumni like Duane is critical as we pursue the ambitious goals laid out in the department’s K-State 2025 strategy. A key component is improved financial assistance to our undergraduate and graduate students.”
“It is gratifying to see alumni reflect on their time at K-State and see investment in the department as an important way to help the next generation of students build the ‘foundation’ for an exciting career.”
Cantrell says scholarships have always been important, but with the cost of education today, he is concerned that bright and capable young people would choose not to pursue higher education purely for reasons of cost. “If we can provide some level of scholarship that can lessen that financial burden, then the value is multiplied in the lives of those students and in the marketplace,” he said.
“Leslee and I have always felt that we have lived a blessed life and have a sense of obligation and duty to try and give back wherever we can. The education that I received at Kansas State University was the foundation for a wonderful career and we want to make sure that other young people have the same opportunities that we have enjoyed and if in some small way the scholarships can enable those students to realize their potential then we will have made some contribution to that end,” Cantrell said.

Economics student receives Truman Scholarship
Ross AllenThe Department of Economics is proud to announce that one of its students has received the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which is one of the most prestigious academic awards in the country. Ross Allen, junior in economics and philosophy minoring in nonprofit leadership, received the scholarship this past spring. The Truman Scholarship is a nationally competitive award that provides as much as $30,000 for graduate study to students committed to future careers in public service. Allen, who is from Soldier, Kansas, intends to make a positive impact on the world through continued study in the field of nonprofit leadership, public policy, and ministry.

Nonprofits have the unique opportunity to go beyond merely transactional servant leadership, where an exchange of goods happens from people with resources to people in need, and engage in transformational servant leadership — where both those offering and those receiving resources collaborate and experience meaningful personal development," Allen said. Aside from being a Truman Scholar, Allen is heavily involved on campus in organizations like Student Governing Association, Student Alumni Board, Nonprofit Leadership Student Alliance, and many others. Since the establishment of the Truman Foundation in 1977, 34 Kansas State University students have been awarded the Truman scholarship, ranking the university first among all public state-supported universities for the number of Truman scholars in the nation.
Student from Lenexa named 2014 Cargill Global Scholar

Sierra Lake has been selected as a Cargill Scholar for the 2014 academic year.  Sierra Lake, Lenexa, is majoring in economics and political science as Cargill Scholar 2014well as pursuing a secondary major in international relations.

She is one of two Kansas State University students selected for the honor this year. Since the program began in 2013, the university has had four recipients of the prestigious honor. Only 10 students in the U.S. are selected for the scholarship each year. More than 250 students applied for the scholarship this year.

Cargill Global Scholars are high performing first- or second-year university students, studying in a field that relates to Cargill's business goals of providing innovative solutions to meeting today's economic, environmental and social challenges. The program is designed to equip students with the tools necessary to become global leaders and decision-makers.

As a scholar, Lekie will have the opportunity to develop leadership competencies through training modules; receive mentoring and coaching by Cargill employees; and get learning and networking opportunities with Cargill businesses. Scholars are eligible to receive an annual scholarship award for up to three years to help offset any academic-related expenses.

"I am honored to have been selected as a Cargill Global Scholar," Lekie said. "It's amazing to see a group of students from different backgrounds and disciplines come together to work on developing skills to be effective future leaders. The individuals at Cargill and the Institute of International Education have provided us with a unique opportunity to learn and develop these leadership skills. I cannot wait to continue this learning and development in the future with this program."

At Kansas State University, Lekie has been active with the Student Alumni Board, Model United Nations and the Economics Club. She is a member of Silver Key, the sophomore honorary, and also served as a member of Quest, the freshman honorary. Lekie is a 2013 graduate of Shawnee Mission West High School.

The Cargill Global Scholars program awards scholarships to students in China, Brazil, India and Russia in addition to the United States.

Dr. Wayne Nafziger Retiring after 48 Years of Dedicated Service

Dr. Wayne Nafziger is retiring this summer after 48 years of dedicated service to the Department of Economics.   Wayne earned his undergraduate degree from Goshen College in Indiana, where he majored in mathematics and social science.  After teaching high school in Ligonier, Indiana during 1960-61, Wayne went on to earn a master's degree from the University of Michigan in 1962 and a Ph.D. in 1966 from the University of Illinois.  He joined the KSU faculty the same year.

Over the years, Wayne has compiled a remarkable academic record.  He has authored or co-authored more than 15 books, including those published by such prestigious outlets as John's Hopkins University Press, Oxford University Press, and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.  His textbook, Development Economics, has been published in five editions, most recently with Cambridge University Press.  Wayne has authored more than 30 journal articles, including publications in several of the top journals in the field of economic development.  In 2008, he was named editor of the Journal of African Development.

Wayne has received many honors over the years for his academic work.  Among the foremost of these honors are his selection as a University Distinguished Professor in 1999 and a Higuchi Endowment Research Award in 2006, an award given annually to one distinguished faculty member in the state of Kansas. Only approximately 20 KSU faculty members have received this award over the years. Wayne has served as a visiting scholar at eight universities and institutions including appointments as a Fulbright Professor to Andhra University in India from 1970 to 1971 and a United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research Fellow in ​Oxford and Helsinki from 1996 to 1998.

Wayne is a well-known figure on the KSU campus, having served on many university-wide committees, and as president of the KSU Faculty Senate.  His name is well known to students who attended the KSU graduate program in economics over the past half century.  He has served as major professor for more than 20 Ph.D. students over the years, as well as supervising numerous master's theses and reports.  In his free time, Wayne has been a long-time supporter of KSU basketball, seldom missing a home game in the past 48 years.

Congratulations to Wayne on such a distinguished career!