Coronavirus Updates

Recent advances in our ability to handle big data now enable researchers to analyze firm-level texts at scale. This lecture series shows how these new methods can be used to inform macroeconomics. We will explore applications of text analysis that show the uneven development and spread of disruptive technologies and enable researchers to better understand how uncertainty affects the economy.

Tuesday, March 21: 12-1:15 pm CT

Sources and Transmission of Country Risk

This session shows how to use textual analysis of earnings conference calls held by listed firms around the world to measure the amount of risk managers and investors at each firm associate with each country at each point in time. Flexibly aggregating this micro-based measure allows us to systematically identify spikes in perceived country risk ("crises") and document their source and pattern of transmission to foreign firms. Using these methods, we analyze the international transmission of risk during recent crises, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Covid Pandemic, and the US-China trade war. We find that elevated perceptions of a country's riskiness, particularly those of foreign financial firms, are associated with significant falls in local asset prices, capital outflows, and reductions in firm-level investment and employment.

watch video

Thursday, March 23: 12-1:15 pm CT

The Diffusion of Disruptive Technologies

This session uses textual analysis of patents, job postings, and earnings calls to identify novel technologies. We will identify and document how these technologies spread across firms and labor markets in the U.S. Five stylized facts emerge from our data: First, the locations where technologies are developed that later disrupt businesses are geographically highly concentrated. Second, as the technologies mature, they gradually spread geographically. While initial hiring is concentrated in high-skilled jobs, over time the mean skill level in new positions associated with the technologies declines, broadening the types of jobs that adopt a given technology. At the same time, the geographic diffusion of low-skilled positions is significantly faster than higher-skilled ones, so that the locations where initial discoveries were made retain their leading positions among high-paying positions for decades. These pioneer locations are more likely to arise in areas with universities and high skilled labor pools.


Tarek Hassan is a Professor at Boston University. Professor Hassan's research focuses on international finance, macro-finance, and social factors in economic growth. Some of his recent papers study the effects of uncertainty on firm behavior and on the allocation of capital across countries. Another set of papers studies the effect of social structure on economic growth and the effect of historical migration and ethnic diversity on foreign direct investment. Hassan’s work has appeared in the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Finance, and other top-journals. He is a research fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Center for Economic Policy Research.