What's Holding Back the US Economy?

Myron Scholes Global Markets Forum

November 9, 2011, 5:30–7:15 p.m., Gleacher Center

Professors Steven Davis, Erik Hurst, and Amir Sufi described their research that leads to alternative explanations for the slow growth in the United States. Luigi Zingales moderated.

This event was part of the Initiative on Global Markets (IGM) and is generously sponsored by Myron Scholes.

View Davis’s Slides »
View Hurst’s Slides »
View Sufi’s Slides »

Speaker Profiles

Steven Davis is the William H. Abbott Professor of International Business and Economics. He is an applied economist with research publications on employment and wage behavior, worker mobility, job loss, the effects of labor market institutions, business dynamics, industrial organization, economic fluctuations, national economic performance, public policy, and other topics. In addition to a basic understanding of the big macroeconomic issues, Davis hopes his students learn “an informed skepticism about data and economic argumentation and an analytical approach that they can apply to business and economic problems in their careers.”

Davis is editor of the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics. He is also a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research, an economic advisor to the US Congressional Budget Office, a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and a nonresident visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Previously, he held positions at the National University of Singapore, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Milken Institute for Job and Capital Formation, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. During a leave of absence, he was vice president in the Competition Practice at CRA International, an economics consulting firm. “This practical experience taught me that there is a market for analytical thinking skills, the hallmark of a Chicago Booth education,” he said. In addition to publication in numerous academic journals, Davis has published in the Chicago Tribune, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and other popular media. He has made television appearances on CNBC, Fox News Channel, NBC News, and PBS, among others. He has also appeared on various radio shows. Davis earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Portland State University in Oregon in 1980, and a master’s degree in 1981 and a PhD in 1986, both in economics, from Brown University. He joined the Chicago Booth faculty in 1985.

Erik Hurst is the V. Duane Rath Professor of Economics and the John E. Jeuck Faculty Fellow. He studies macroeconomic policy, consumption, time use, entrepreneurship, housing markets, and household financial behavior. Hurst’s research includes “Conspicuous Consumption and Race” and “Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time over Five Decades” in the Quarterly Journal of Economics; “The Consumer Bankruptcy Decision” and “Life Cycle Prices and Production” in the American Economic Review; “Liquidity Constraints, Household Wealth, and Entrepreneurship” and “The Correlation in Wealth across Generations” in the Journal of Political Economy; and “Home Is Where the Equity Is: Mortgage Refinancing and Household Consumption” in the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking. His work on leisure trends was written up in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Economist. His current paper “Endogenous Gentrification and House Price Dynamics” looks at within-city movements in house prices during citywide housing price booms and busts. Additionally, his work in “The Allocation of Talent and US Economic Growth” explores how changing labor market outcomes for blacks and women have spurred US growth over the past 50 years.

Hurst won the 2006 TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award for Outstanding Scholarly Writing on Lifelong Financial Security for his article about the transition to retirement titled “Consumption Versus Expenditure,” published in the Journal of Political Economy (2005). He was also the inaugural recipient of the John Huizinga Faculty Fellowship in 2005 and was awarded the William Ladany Research Award in 2001, which is given to a junior faculty member with promising research potential. In 2006, he was named a Neubauer Faculty Fellow.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from Clarkson University in 1993. He received a master’s degree in economics in 1995 and a PhD in economics in 1999 from the University of Michigan. He joined the Chicago Booth faculty in 1999.

Amir Sufi is professor of finance at Chicago Booth. He studies the broad areas of financial intermediation, corporate finance, and household finance. His current research is focused on two specific areas: the macroeconomic implications of the housing boom and collapse, and the effect of information frictions and incentive conflicts on corporate capital structure and investment policy.

His research has won numerous prizes, including the Brattle Prize for Distinguished Paper from the Journal of Finance and the inaugural Young Researcher Prize from the Review of Financial Studies. Sufi has articles in the American Economic Review, the Journal of Finance, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics. His research on housing and the macroeconomy has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal and The Economist. He was also awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in 2011.

Sufi graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University with a bachelor’s degree in economics magna cum laude in 1999. He earned a PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005. His dissertation was titled “The Role of Banks in Corporate Finance.” He joined the Chicago Booth faculty in 2005.

Luigi Zingales is the Robert C. McCormack Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance and the David G. Booth Faculty Fellow. His research interests span from corporate governance to financial development, from political economy to the economic effects of culture. Currently, he has been involved in developing the best interventions to cope with the aftermath of the financial crisis. He also codeveloped the Financial Trust Index, which is designed to monitor the level of trust that Americans have toward their financial system. In addition to holding his position at Chicago Booth, Zingales is currently a faculty research fellow for the National Bureau of Economic Research, a research fellow for the Center for Economic Policy Research, and a fellow of the European Governance Institute. He is also the director of the American Finance Association and an editorialist for Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian equivalent of the Financial Times. Zingales also serves on the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation, which has been examining the legislative, regulatory, and legal issues affecting how public companies function. His research has earned him the 2003 Bernácer Prize for the best young European financial economist, the 2002 Nasdaq award for best paper in capital formation, and a National Science Foundation Grant in economics. His work has been published in the Journal of Financial Economics, the Journal of Finance, and the American Economic Review. His book, Saving Capitalism from Capitalists, coauthored with Raghuram G. Rajan, has been acclaimed as “one of the most powerful defenses of the free market ever written” by Bruce Bartlett of National Review Online. Martin Wolf of the Financial Times called it “an important book.”

Zingales received a bachelor’s degree in economics summa cum laude from Università Bocconi in Italy in 1987 and a PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992. He joined the Chicago Booth faculty in 1992.