BYU Macroeconomics and Computational Laboratory

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About Us

The BYU Macroeconomics and Computational Laboratory is a collaborative group of undergraduate students and professors at BYU doing research in the field of computational macroeconomics.  We operate under the following set of premises:

Bright, motivated undergraduate students can make significant contributions to macroeconomic research.

To do so, they need appropriate training in numerical tools and economic theory.

They also need guidance from faculty dedicated to undergraduate mentoring.

Following the example of the BYU Math Department's successful IMPACT program, we select a group of well-prepared undergraduate students who have completed the economics core curriculum and who have a solid background in mathematics.  We train these students extensively during Spring Term in an intensive “boot camp” environment where they are a) introduced to a set of useful computational mathematics tools, b) introduced to modern dynamic macroeconomic theory and methods, and c) trained in numerical programming techniques.  During the following academic year students are brought onto faculty-sponsored research projects, usually as full coauthors with the intent of producing a paper ready for submission to peer-reviewed academic journal by the end of the school year.

Successful MCL students are well trained, have a strong work ethic, are highly motivated, and are ready to enter and excel in the best graduate programs in economics and finance.

History

The BYU Macroeconomics and Computational Lab was begun in January 2012 with a Mentoring Environments Grant from BYU's Office of Research & Creative Activites.  Our initial funding was for faculty-student research on computational methods in macroeconomics; specifically for developing methods to solve and simulate dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models and implement these tools to address research questions in domestic and international macroeconomic policy.  At this point we called the group the BYU Macroeconomics Laboratory.

Early in 2012 we received generous financial and other support from the BYU College of Family, Home & Social Sciences for student wages and computer equipment.

Collaboration with Kenneth Judd of Stanford's Hoover Institution starting in late January 2012 brought in faculty and students from the BYU Math Department to work on computationally intensive examinations of tax policy with heterogeneous agents.  This prompted a change in the name to the "BYU Macroeconomics and Computational Laboratory."

In March 2012 we benefited from a very generous gift from an anonymous donor to allow us to run a successor to the math department's IMPACT boot camp during Spring Term 2012. We have dubbed this the "Computational Economics Boot Camp."

On December 13th and 14th, 2012 we sponsored the BYU Computational Public Economics Conference in Park City, Utah.  They keynote speaker was Nobel laureate, Tom Sargent, of New York University.  This conference was partly funded by the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences and partly funded by an anonyomous donor.

Placements for our 2012-13 class of "labradors" were very good.  Spencer Lyon and Chase Coleman went to the NYU Stern School Department of Economics, Jeremy Bejarano went to the University of Chicago Department of Economics, Timothy Hills accepted a position at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in the Mathematical and Quantitative Methods section, and Ryan Brunt took a position at Saavy Sherpa.

In 2013 we ran our second edition of boot camp with 14 students begining and 11 finishing.  We ended up with a total of 11 student researchers in the lab for the 2013-14 academic year.  We also held our second BYU Computational Public Economics Conference in Park City focusing on Economic Modeling with Health and Aging with John Laitner from the University of Michigan as our keynote speaker.

Our Motto

In his historical fiction novel, 1356: A Novel (p. 355), Bernard Cornwell describes Edward, the Prince of Wales, as motivating his commander in the Battle of Poitiers by exclaiming, “Go with God,... and fight like the devil.” Eric Eide, the Department Chairman of the BYU Department of Economics, suggested the following adaptation of that quote for the BYU-MCL. “Go with God, and compute like the devil.” Properly latinized, as any self-respecting motto should be, we say:
Vade cum Deo, et computare similis diabolo

Social Media

We have a twitter account you can follow.  Our id is @BYUMCL.

We also have groups set up on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google Plus.

Lastly, we have some videos on our YouTube channel.

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BYU Macroeconomics and Computational Laboratory