Saturday, November 23, 2013

November Virginia Consumer Sentiment and Price Expectations Report released Friday

Each quarter Dr. Kassens works with the Roanoke College Institute for Policy and Opinion Research to produce the Virginia Consumer Sentiment and Price Expectations Report. You can read the recent report here.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Record Setting Performance by the 2013 Roanoke College Fed Challenge Team

L to R: Altier, Classen, Long, Walsh, Webb, Alexander, Lewin

Roanoke College, led by Michelle (Alexander) Crook, has sent almost ten teams to compete in the College Fed Challenge. Given our geography, we send our group to the regional competition in Richmond, VA.

Over the years the teams from Roanoke College have included our top economics and business students.

For the first time in Roanoke College history, our College Fed Challenge Team advanced beyond the first round; a remarkable achievement.

Professor Crook selects her Fed Challenge Team in the spring and summer. Selected students (~6) work throughout the semester developing a presentation for the competition. In their presentation they must analyze the current economic condition of the United States and make a monetary policy recommendation. Their audience is a panel of judges who work for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. After the presentation the panelists ask the team questions which the team must answer immediately.

The development of the presentation takes considerable time and effort. Students typically assign tasks and economic indicators (ex. unemployment and inflation) and become experts on their area. As a group they develop a script to go with a visual presentation (our group used Prezi). The script is usually memorized for the event in Richmond.

Teams from across the region compete in Richmond in the first round; four teams advance to the second round.

In the second round teams are given a scenario and five minutes to prepare a policy recommendation for the same panel of judges and then face additional questions.

November 4, 2013, JMU won the regional competition. Roanoke College was joined in the second round by JMU, Mary Washington University, and the University of Richmond. Other schools competing in Richmond this year were Christopher Newport University, the College of William and Mary, Liberty University, Lynchburg College, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Union University.

Roanoke College's Economics Program is so very proud of our 2013 Fed Challenge Team:

Coach: Michelle (Alexander) Crook

Team: Greg Long, Sean Walsh, Emma Webb, Conrad Classen, Robert Altier, and Spencer Lewin

If you see Coach Crook or our team around campus be sure to congratulate them.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Human Capital Crossword

Rather than a standard quiz in Thursday's ECON 267 (Labor Economics) class, the students completed a crossword puzzle. The puzzle answers largely pertained to items discussed in the previous class.

Want to try it out? Below is a crossword on human capital. Print it and enjoy!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Roanoke College Economics Reading Group: Discussion Questions

The first meeting of the Roanoke College Economics Reading Group will take place October 22 thanks to a generous grant from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. Undergraduate applicants received a copy of Milton Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom" which we will discuss in our fall semester meeting.

We will be joined by Roanoke College's Dr. Robert Benne. Dr. Benne put together a few discussion questions for participants to consider as they read through the book:

1. What is the primary reason Friedman endorses free market capitalism?   Is there a moral component to that reason? 

2.  Friedman believes the Federal Reserve made a horrendous mistake toward the beginning of the Great Depression.  What was it and why was it so horrendous? 

3.  Why does capitalism tend to correlate with political democracy?   Indeed, why is capitalism almost necessary for political democracy? 

4.  Friedman prefers temporary monopolies over government intervention to dispel monopolies.  Why does he argue that? 

5.  In which modern American political party would Friedman feel most comfortable?  Democratic?  Republican?  Socialist?  Green?   Libertarian?   Why? 

6.  One of Friedman's most enduring policy proposals was the introduction of vouchers into elementary education.   What is the nature of his proposal?

An additional resource for readers (and others) is the following interview of Friedman conducted by Donahue in 1979. A classic! The interview can be watched in five parts.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New page added to blog

A new page has been added to the Roanoke Economics Blog: Occupational Outlook.

This document is primarily for current students of economics thinking about career choices. It will be updated once a year.

Please click on the tab at the top of the blog homepage to see the document.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2013-14 Economics Club Executive Board

The Roanoke College Economics Club has elected their Executive Board for the year. Congratulations to:

Matt Nguyen - President
William Corso - Vice President, PR Chair
Caitlyn Gaugler - Treasurer
Conrad Classen - Newsletter coordinator

Congrats to all!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wai Paing `12 begins his life as a graduate student at Duke University

Economics major Wai Paing began a masters program in economics at Duke University this fall. He wrote letting us know how his first week was going.

Wai Paing `12 and Papa Fall `12

Life at Duke University as I observe so far is quite different from the one I experienced at Roanoke College. It might just be the difference between the graduate program and the undergraduate program.
At Duke, I moved into a big apartment with its own living room, kitchen, bathroom and so on. The neighborhood in general is quiet. Everyone seems to be immersed in his or her own field of study.
Unlike Roanoke College, I can no longer walk to classes in five minutes. I have to catch a bus to commute from my apartment to the class. Moreover, food is on my own; there is no dining hall that I can just go in and get something to eat.
However, I think it is better this way. A graduate student definitely needs to take more responsibilities.
All my colleagues in the masters program look bright. Everyone seems to be hard working, serious and enthusiastic. It is quite intimidating to be in a class together with them for the first few days. Hopefully, I will pass this stage and make this environment as a motivating force for me to study hard.
Duke University, in general, is beautiful with its significant Gothic style structure throughout the campus: Duke Chapel being the most famous one. The school is green with lots of trees, a forest and a nice garden. I hope these will be able to relieve some of my stresses during my study.
Overall, it has been a great experience so far. Now, I am trying to get settled in at a new place and to start a new chapter of my life.

Best of luck to you Wai and keep us up to date.

Do you have an update for us? Send an email to

Monday, August 26, 2013

Economics Reading Group

Are you a Roanoke College student and interested in discussing economic freedom? Join the Roanoke College Economics Reading Group!

Fill out the form below if you are interested and Dr. Kassens will be in touch with more details.
Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Using Twitter in the Classroom - A tutorial

Dr. Kassens used Twitter to improve student critical thinking and writing skills in her last two Principles of Macroeconomics courses (Spring and Summer 2013). The following video is a tutorial going over the process.

Kassens is currently working on a manuscript about the process/experience as well. The technique will be used again in Kassens' spring 2014 Principles of Macroecononics course. Come join the fun!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Dr. Kassens WDBJ7 interview: Prescription drug price increase

Dr. Kassens was interviewed last week by WDBJ7 on the recent increase in prescription drug prices. A few of her comments were used in the story that aired. You can find the interview here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


The Roanoke Economics Program Blog has established a daily publication through called Twitternomica. The daily culls selected sources for articles, charts, Twitter hashtags, etc. pertaining to economics. You can find the daily by using the tab on this blog entitled "Twitternomica".

Check out today's edition below, or go to the tab to read it daily.

Is there a source that you would like added? Drop us an email to let us know.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dr. Kassens interviewed by Everyday Health on sickness and productivity in the workplace

Dr. Kassens was interviewed for the second time in a few weeks by Everyday Health. This time the conversation was about workplace policies on sick days. You can read the interview here.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Word cloud: Summer school tweeting week #1

Want to know what Dr. Kassens ECON 122 Principles of Economics students are learning? Check out the word cloud based upon their tweets from class:

You can check out the conversation: #kassensecon122

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Economics students abroad

Last month several economics majors participated in intensive learning courses. Two students, Emma Webb and Matt Nguyen, traveled to Romania to study food and politics. Emma wrote "We were out in downtown Bucharest and ran across this bar that was so appropriately economic themed that we couldn't resist. I just thought I would send this photo along!"

Dr. Fleming replied "Now that's compound interest!"

Do you have any great economics pictures? Send them to us!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dr. Kassens interviewed for article in Everyday Health

Everyday Health

Jeffrey Kopman of Everyday Health interviewed Dr. Kassens for his article on employer costs of smoking. Read the full article here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Updates on our recent graduates

Several weeks have passed since the Class of 2013 graduated. Good news for many of them and other recent graduates continue to roll in. Some highlights include:

Brunella Salazar `13
Source: Roanoke College Facebook page

Yahia Abu Hashem `12 will start on his PhD in Economics at American University in the fall. He was awarded a four year fellowship.

James Bradshaw `13 will start an MS program in Economics at Lehigh University in the fall.

Zach Birtsch `13 will begin a masters program for College Student Personnel Administration at JMU in the fall.

Ian Kervick-Jimenez `13 will work as an intern with the Central Bank of Peru in September.

Wai Paing `12 will begin a masters program in economics at Duke University in the fall.

Kerry Murphy `13 is an accounting analyst at Energy Services Holdings in Roanoke, VA

Brunella Salazar `13 is working for Kissito Healthcare International in Roanoke, VA and is currently creating a social program to help the local community.

Chanho Song `12 will begin a masters program for economic development at Vanderbilt University in the fall.

Katie Thornton `13 will begin a masters program in statistics at Virginia Tech this fall.

Congrats to all! You certainly make Roanoke College proud. Keep sending us updates.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Roanomics Vol. 3, Iss. 2

Get spring started with the latest issue of Roanomics!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

What can I do with a degree in economics? March 26th

Join us in Kime March 26th 6-7 pm to hear how Jorge Guzman Correa has been using his degree in economics with his work with the Peruvian government. Please RSVP OR

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Running Economist: The next John S. Shannon Professor of Economics, R...

The Running Economist: The next John S. Shannon Professor of Economics, R...: I am so honored to have been named the next John S. Shannon Professor of Economics at Roanoke College. Dean Richard Smith and President Mich...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Health Economics (ECON 227) using technology to study health and income across countries

Dr. Kassens Health Economics class examined the relationship between health and income for six different countries using a data application from the World Bank.

Prior the group project, class discussion addressed two observations:
1) Wealthier countries are healthier
2) Wealthier countries spend more money on health

and a question "Does this mean that countries can buy health?"

Students offered a variety of answers, but collectively answered "not necessarily". They noted that income is related to education, infrastructure, transportation, etc. that determine health. Additionally, behavioral issues, such as smoking and obesity, can offset the impact of income on health status. Finally, we addressed the differences in cross sectional analyses of health vs. changes over time.

In an effort to learn about the obstacles low-income countries face with respect to health compared to higher income nations, six student groups were formed. Each group was assigned a country:

Low Income

Middle Income

High Income

Students were given 20 minutes to produce a report on their assigned country using World Bank data. Their reports needed to address four things:

1) Health outcomes
2) Health resources
3) Health spending
4) Economic indicators

Those students with laptops accessed the data through the following link: Those with smart phones used a World Bank application.

Reports included the following variables:

Health care expenditure per person (current $US)

% children 12-23 months immunized for diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus

% population with access to improved sanitation facilities

Life expectancy at birth

GDP per capita (current $US)

Each group then reported their findings and commented on similarities/differences in their country and a country from the same income group and countries from other income groups.

General comments included:

  1. Higher income countries had better health, access to health facilities and technology, and fewer incidences of infectious diseases and malnutrition
  2. In many ways China was similar to low-income countries with respect to access and expenditures, while Poland was more like the higher income countries
  3. Substantial differences in sanitation, infrastructure, and income exist between low income countries and the other groups
If you are interested in conducting a cross-country analysis you should check out the resources that the World Bank offers, including for your smart phone!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dr. Kassens joins forces with MassINC Polling Group to produce Consumer Sentiment Report

Today the MassINC Polling Group, a survey opinion research company based in Boston, MA, released its first Consumer Sentiment Report for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Roanoke College's Dr. Alice Louise Kassens (Economics) worked with MassINC Polling Group's Steve Koczela to produce the report.

The MassINC Polling Group has collected consumer sentiment survey data each quarter since January 2011 and released the resulting consumer sentiment indexes as a part of it's quarterly Trend Monitor.

The Consumer Sentiment Report, released as an "Opinion Brief", is the first detailed analysis of the consumer sentiment survey data.

The report teaser reads:
"Consumer confidence fell this quarter to the lowest level in over a year, according to poll data released today by The MassINC Polling Group. The Massachusetts Index of Consumer Sentiment dropped about 15 points to 71.2 since October 2012, a reversal of a yearlong trend of steady improvements in consumers’ outlook."
Read the complete report here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dr. Edward Nik-Khah gives lecture in Young Scholars Workshop (Hong Kong)

As a part of the Institute for New Economic Thinking's conference in Hong Kong, the organization's Young Scholars Initiative will host a graduate student workshop, including several lectures. In one of the lectures, Roanoke College Associate Professor of Economics, Dr. Edward NIk-Khah, along with Dr. Philip Mirowski (Notre Dame), will provide a

"...narrative of the development of 20th century economics with particular focus on how the market came to be viewed as a processor of information or knowledge."

Read about INET and Dr. Nik-Khah and Mirowski's lecture


 with specifics found



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wall Street Journal Letter to the Editor: Dr. Robert Stauffer

Dr. Robert Stauffer is a Professor Emeritus of Economics at Roanoke College. He has had several Letters to the Editor published by the Wall Street Journal. His most recent was published a few days ago. In it he comments on excess reserves used in lending and Fed policy. You can read it here:


Friday, January 11, 2013

Tyler Rinko `11 teaching economics in Turkey

Tyler Rinko `11 has been hired by MEF International School-Izmir to teach high school/secondary economics and middle school math next year. It will be the first year for the Economics Department at the school.

After Tyler begins he will share his experiences with us in Roanomics.

Congrats Tyler! You continue to excel.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Zach Birtsch presents his research at assessment conference

On Wednesday November 14 Senior Economics Major Zach Birtsch participated in the poster session at the Virginia Assessment Group 2012 Annual Conference in Richmond, VA. 

Zach presented his preliminary findings from his research project for Dr. Kassens econometrics course (ECON 448). Zach's paper used survey data to analyze the determinants of student wellness at Roanoke College. He used a probit model and a fixed set of covariates to estimate the marginal effects of each dimension of wellness. Zach was the only undergraduate participating in the poster session. The remainder of participants were graduate students.

Zach accompanied Dr. Kim Filer at the conference. Dr. Filer is the President-elect of the Virginia Assessment Group and the college's Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment. 

A reflection of Zach's experience at the conference will appear in the March 2013 issue of Roanomics

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Research-presentation opportunity

From the Roanoke College Daily email:

Hum & Social Science Students - Present Research at JMU - Deadline at End of January

The 4th Annual MadRush Undergraduate Research Conference seeks outstanding undergraduate research or writing in any Humanities or Social Science discipline. The conference will occur on Saturday, March 23, 2013.

How to Apply—Each student should submit a 100-150 word abstract of their project to Dr. J. Chris Arndt at or no later than 5:00 PM Thursday, January, 31 2013. Abstracts should be word files and should include author, major, institution, title of presentation. Groups of students are also invited to submit panel sessions on related paper topics.

Presentation Format—Students selected for the conference will be notified by email in early-to-mid-February. Presentations should be 10-15 minutes in length; there will be time for audience questions at the end of each conference session. Presentations may include PowerPoint slides for visual support. Presenters are responsible for expenses incurred in attending the conference.

If you apply, please CC Dr. Lyon (Director of Student-Faculty Research). She will arrange for your registration and travel fees to be paid by Roanoke College.

For more information contact: Julie Lyon