Assistant Professor Monica Tran Xuan is a new addition to the Department of Economics, joining us in Fall 2020. She is a macroeconomist focusing on international economics and public finance. She received her PhD from the University of Minnesota. This semester, you can find her teaching Macroeconomic Theory (ECO 507 and 609)!
Why did you choose economics? Why did you choose your subfield?
MTX: I read the book ‘Freakonomics’ by Steven Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner, and I was fascinated by the interesting questions that they could answer using data. I pursued economics in graduate school because I wanted to learn more about how to combine both theoretical and quantitative tools. I chose macroeconomics because I was interested in studying government policies especially in the presence of inequality.
What research are you working on right now?
MTX: I am working on a few projects that focus on the trade-offs between the government’s commitment to repay debt and its commitment to redistribution. One of my projects studies how the government should set taxes to redistribute while its borrowing is limited. In another project, I argue how governments commit to repay external debt because of their motive for redistribution. I also work on how inequality worsens debt crises by increasing sovereign default risk. In addition, my other projects include taxation of family with secondary earners, optimal childcare subsidies, and the inequality impact of macroprudential policies.
What was your favorite paper to write, and why?
MTX: I enjoy working on “Redistribution, Sovereign Debt, and Optimal Taxation.” It combines both theoretical and quantitative tools. I was able to develop a theory of debt sustainability that is quantitatively important and consistent with the data.
What is your favorite class to teach, and why?
MTX: I am excited to teach macroeconomic theory. I like to show the students the main models and tools of modern macroeconomic research, and how they can use these tools to answer interesting questions not only in macroeconomics but also in other areas like labor, health, public, international, etc.
What was your favorite class as an undergrad?
MTX: I was interested in public finance.
What is your top piece of advice for your students?
MTX: Learn and sharpen your data and programming skills. Be open minded about your interests.