2020 iCare Participants Discuss the Economic Effects of the Pandemic, the Accessibility of Higher Education in Russia, and More
On September 21, the VIII International Conference on Applied Research in Economics (iCare) was held online, bringing together more than 100 researchers from 19 countries. Organizers, speakers, teachers, and students shared their impressions of the event and talked about the opportunities that the conference opens up for them.
This year’s conference programme included 24 presentations that were given by Russian and foreign researchers. The papers were organized into 6 sessions:
Poverty, Inequality, Exclusion
Shocks, Uncertainty and the Economy
Education and Social Interaction
Environment and the Economy
Presentations addressed population expectations, macroeconomic shocks, the reaction of stock markets throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer behavior, education and social interaction, the impact of the environment on the economy, and more.
Between sessions, conference participants could discuss the presentations and future research projects in virtual rooms.
Keynote Lecture: Lessons from the Financial Crisis
The conference’s keynote speaker was Michael Koetter, Professor of Financial Economics at the University of Magdeburg and Head of the Department of Financial Market Research at the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH). In his lecture, he described how the 2008 crisis affected the global economy (the banking industry and real companies) and politics, and how these lessons can help us today.
Michael Koetter cited the following key materials in his lecture:
Lending Effects of the ECB’s Asset Purchases
Keynote Speaker Michael Koetter
In my view, the financial system is key to overcoming the economic downturn due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. It is the financial system that should revive entrepreneurial activity and stimulate the growth of wealth and well-being. Failure to efficiently allocate financial resources can have long-term negative consequences. It was a tremendous honor and an enjoyable opportunity for me to share these thoughts at a conference that brought together so many interesting researchers, especially in the areas of growth, resource allocation, and economic dynamics—all from the point of view of different disciplines.
The organizers of the VIII International Conference on Applied Research in Economics (iCare) summed up the results of the speeches and discussions. Despite the online format, the conference retained both its personal atmosphere and high level of discourse.
Programme Committee Chairman, Professor Dmitry Vinogradov
I would rate the quality of the reports presented at iCare as high, but we knew this even at the stage of selecting papers for the conference. Dennis Coates (Chair of the ‘Education and Social Interaction’ session) said that he enjoyed the work presented. Paola Valbonesi chaired the ‘Environment and the Economy’ session. Though this session seemed quite popular during the stage of selecting papers, it was attended by only a small number of participants. But this happens at conferences—there is a time lag between the preparation of a paper and the conference, and during that time one’s research interests can change drastically. This is what we saw yesterday. The keynote lecture touched on the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the macroeconomic shocks session, there was a presentation on the impact of the coronavirus on pharmaceutical stocks. Additionally, in the ‘Inflation Expectations’ session, there were two presentations on how the pandemic affects people's perceptions of economic uncertainty and actions taken by the government to overcome the crisis. This did not make the relationship between the environment and the economy any less important. It is for this reason that we do not hold conferences on a specific them, but rather strive to reflect a wide range of topics.
While participating in iCare online, I wished we could have had more live communication and been able to discuss the presentations during coffee breaks and our traditional informal dinner after the conference. But we tried to adopt a lot of approaches from the ‘Research Neighbours’ conference that was held with great success in the spring. These approaches included having three simultaneous sessions, appointing session chairs, enlisting technical moderators to assist the chairs, and using an online registration system. We had a very difficult task—the speakers were going to be participating from all over the world, from Brazil to Taiwan, and we had to find a time when, relatively speaking, it was no longer night in Chile and it was still evening in Australia. In order to avoid online fatigue, the time of the lectures had to be shortened, and this led to the fact that the breaks were almost entirely spent on discussing the lectures. On the one hand, this is good, because the discussions took place, and for this, many thanks to the session chairs. On the other hand, it underlines how important personal communication is for academic dialogue. Hopefully, next year iCare will be in-person.
Senior Research Fellow, International Laboratory for Institutional Analysis of Economic Reforms
I have been participating in iCare since 2015. The Perm conference is an excellent platform for discussing research papers, many of which later turn into publications in prestigious journals. For example, last year my colleagues Olga Kotomina and Alexandra Sazhina presented a report on parental involvement, and now, based on the results of our research, we have published an article in a well-known international educational journal.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year the conference was held online, so it was not possible to personally communicate with colleagues during coffee breaks and discuss comments in more detail. Nevertheless, the online conference was organized extremely well, without technical glitches and with excellent timing. However, I hope that next year I will be able to see my colleagues in person.
Head, School of Economics and Finance
The presentations at the conference were of high quality. For the eighth time, iCare proves itself to be a forum where you can be confident in the significance and the quality of the research being presented. I was especially impressed by the Michael Koetter’s very interesting and useful keynote lecture concerning the banking sector, the real sector of the economy, and politics. For example, I have done studies related to the regional specifics of the economy, and I was interested in learning trends at the macroeconomic level. In the future, I’ll be able to use this information in preparing lectures and applying factual data.
Thanks to the organizers for an excellently organized conference! Everything was carefully thought out, and opportunities for communication and discussion were provided. Although, of course, face-to-face communication at conferences is preferable for me.
Professor, School of Economics and Finance
Despite these difficult times, this year’s iCare was a success and retained its intimate atmosphere while presenting significant research papers on a wide range of issues in applied economics. Quite a lot of reports were devoted to the problems of instability and forecasts of the economic situation. Some of the authors analyzed the impact of the pandemic on the stock markets. I was especially interested in works on education topics, in particular, the accessibility of higher education in the Russian Federation and social relationships, such as the impact of co-learning effects on student performance. Good luck to all authors in publishing their research!
Visiting Scholar, School of Economics and Finance
This is my third time attending iCare. This year, I presented a joint study with Elena Shadrina and Dmitry Vinogradov dedicated to the analysis and assessment of factors affecting the conduct of environmentally friendly procurement by Russian government customers. Of the presentations I managed to attend, Michael Koetter’s lecture stood out most. For myself, I noted the structure of the presentation and his ability to talk about complex things in simple words.
Of the advantages of the online format, I would note that you can quickly switch between sessions and presentations, which allows more speakers to present, and it is easier to keep the timing of speeches. But I really miss when the conference participants could come to Perm, and it was possible to interact personally with everyone, discussing research and possible joint projects.
In my opinion, it is imperative for young researchers to present their work at conferences—this way you can get valuable feedback from experts on the topic, get acquainted with leading scholars, and exchange ideas.
Junior Research Fellow, International Laboratory of Intangible-driven Economy (HSE – St. Petersburg)
The most memorable presentation for me was Ernest Biktimirov, Tatyana Sokolyk, and Anteneh Ayanso’s presentation on news sentiment analysis as a determinant of real estate prices. In some of our work, my colleagues and I also perform sentiment analysis of various texts, so it was informative to see an example of the application of this method. I like the online conference format! You don't have to worry about logistic issues and can easily move between different sections.
Professor Oleg Melnikov is among the international professors invited to work remotely with HSE University’s students this academic year. He lives in California, runs the Data Science department at a company in Palo Alto, and teaches at Stanford and other universities in the United States. At HSE University he teaches a course on machine learning for the students of the Faculty of Computer Science and the International College of Economics and Finance (ICEF), as well as a university-wide optional course, ‘Machine Learning in Python’. He spoke about his work in an interview with the HSE News Service.
Pasha Andreyanov, Assistant Professor in the Department of Theoretical Economics at HSE University and Tomasz Sadzik, Assistant Professor of Economics at University of California, have described a mechanism that allows the stock market to remain relatively calm despite the growing influence of retail investors. Their joint article, 'Robust Mechanism Design of Exchange', was published in the Review of Economic Studies, one of the top 5 academic journals in economics and finance.
Dean Fantazzini, Deputy Head of the Department of Econometrics and Mathematical Methods in Economics at Moscow School of Economics in Moscow State University and Visiting Scholar at the HSE ICEF, was the first foreigner to defend his DSc thesis at HSE University. We spoke with Dean Fantazzini about his research and cooperation with HSE.
Aleksei Smirnov, Assistant Professor, HSE University Faculty of Economic Sciences, and Egor Starkov, Assistant Professor, University of Copenhagen, have constructed a mathematical model that explains why it is advantageous for sellers not to delete negative reviews of their products. A study detailing this conclusion has been accepted for publication in The American Economic Journal: Microeconomics.
Students need digital skills, both in life and in their future work. But many universities are not yet ready to provide students with them, despite the current circumstances in which universities have had to transition to online learning due to the COVID-19 epidemic. The development of online formats has been uneven: there are bright leaders and the rest modestly ‘stand aside’. They lack resources, confidence in digital education, and a regulatory framework. At the eSTARS International Conference organised by HSE University in partnership with Coursera, experts discussed the challenges of digitalisation in higher education.
In assessing an employee’s performance, employers often listen to his immediate supervisor or colleagues, and these opinions can be highly subjective. Sergey Stepanov, an economist from HSE University, has shown that biased evaluations can actually benefit employers. An article substantiating this finding was published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.
eSTARS 2020, the international education conference organized by HSE University in partnership with the global educational platform Coursera, reached its conclusion on December 2. This year, which marked the annual event’s 3rd meeting, the conference was held entirely online for the first time.
Representatives of governmental bodies and international organizations joined BRICS experts to discuss anti-corruption education at a roundtable that took place on December 1 as a videoconference. Representatives of HSE university participated in the event organization and the discussion itself.
The 2020 eSTARS conference, organized by HSE University in partnership with the global educational platform Coursera, has commenced. For the first time in its history, the event is being held entirely online. At the plenary session and the first panel session, representatives of the world's leading universities, their associations, and educational platforms spoke about the role of digitalization in the development of higher education, the impact of the pandemic on education, and new approaches to how teachers and students can interact.
Edmond W.H. Lee, a full professor at the Department of Mathematics, Nova Southeastern University, USA, has recently defended his Doctor of Sciences (DSc) thesis at the Dissertation Council in Mathematics, HSE University. The DSc in Russia is a higher doctoral degree that can be earned after the PhD. Professor Lee’s defence was held over Zoom, with the candidate and his dissertation committee members participating remotely from 5 cities in Brazil, Israel, Russia, and the USA. Lee became the first international recipient of a DSc degree in Mathematics from HSE University.