Assistant Professor Yun Pei is a macroeconomist in the Department of Economics with a focus on international finance, macro labor, and public finance. He received his PhD from the University of Minnesota. You can find him teaching Macroeconomic Theory (ECO 610), International Economics (ECO 776), International Finance (ECO 434 and 536), and Economics of Asset Valuation (ECO 529)!
Why did you choose economics? Why did you choose your subfield?
YP: When I was taking an intro to economics class as an undergrad, I learned the concepts of utility maximization and tradeoff. I was fascinated by this idea of finding the optimal allocation while considering both benefits and costs. This shaped my thinking at that time.
I became interested in macroeconomics in graduate school, because at that time (post financial crisis), there was a lot of debate about government macro policy. I became especially interested in fiscal policy, such as taxes, debt, unemployment insurance, etc.
What research are you working on right now?
YP: I am currently working on a paper on immigration. It studies the contribution of immigration to economic growth. The results show that the net economic impact of immigrants is positive on the destination country, and especially so for high-skilled immigrants.
What was your favorite paper to write, and why?
YP: My favorite paper to write was “A Quantitative Theory of Time-Consistent Unemployment Insurance”. It showed that lack of commitment by the government led to unemployment insurance extensions during the Great Recession, which in turn contributed to rising unemployment rate during the period. The paper combined both theory and data, and I had a lot of fun working on it.
What is your favorite class to teach, and why?
YP: My favorite class to teach is the undergrad international finance class. I teach international capital flows, balance of payments, exchange rate, international financial system, etc. In the age of globalization, it is fun to talk about these international economic and financial issues.
What was your favorite class as an undergrad?
YP: My favorite class as an undergrad was a year-long liberal arts education sequence on the classical political, economic and social thoughts. I got to read books by Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Mill, Rousseau, Smith, Marx, Tocqueville, Paine, Hayek, etc. Although I had a hard time understand most of it, it was an eye-opening experience for me.
What is your top piece of advice for your students?
YP: I think important skills to learn these days are data analysis skills, and writing and presentation skills. But more importantly, think critically and be open-minded.