Carsten Sprenger: ‘For Us, the Conference on Financial Economics is the Event of the Year’
— What was the selection procedure for conference papers?
— Together with Christian Julliard, our Laboratory’s Co-Director from the London School of Economics, we collected applications from our staff members. We invited international guests who are specifically interesting to us. It was very helpful that Christian personally knows many renowned international financial economists. The process was largely informal. A key feature of our conference is that invited participants at the same time play the role of reviewers for papers by our staff. This channel of interaction is very important for us.
— Didn’t you want to narrow the scope of the conference topic?
No, we didn’t want to artificially narrow down the theme. Financial economists, including those working for our laboratory, work in different areas of research. And if we organize a conference only about, for example, financial market microstructure, we cut off too many researchers in other financial economic sectors whose studies deserve attention. The specific focus of any conference is determined by another reality: it turns out that empirical work is now mainly focused on developing markets. This topic is rather noticeable in the papers. However,, this at least can be explained by the fact that the conference took place in Russia. For example, this time we had very interesting presentations on Russian banks and the effects of monetary policies in developing countries.
— What other presentations could you mention?
— The presentations were very different, both theoretical and applied, and they were distributed in five sessions. I want to specially mention the Asset Pricing and Portfolio Choice session. It was opened by Dmitry Livdan from the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. He wrote an interesting empirical paper about whether institutional investors use information unavailable to other market participants. This is a very delicate problem. Livdan, together with his co-authors, gathered a huge database, and proved that institutional investors in their contracts really do rely on data unknown to other market players. This result is very important, both empirically and for financial theory.
— How do you evaluate the papers by the staff of the Laboratory of Financial Economics?
— The papers by our staff presented at the conference really deserved their audience. I believe that our authors have received interesting feedback, which will help them improve their research and publications. By the way, the advice they received regarding publications in international peer-reviewed journals will also be very useful. Generally, for our laboratory this conference is probably the main event of the year – it gives a powerful incentive to all of our work.
— The conference included a special ‘in memoriam’ session for Sudipto Bhattacharya, economist and professor of the London School of Economics.
— Sudipto Bhattacharya was one of the most renowned economists, a professor at LSE who in 2008 read a short course at the HSE ICEF as part of the master’s programme on financial economics, and also gave a public lecture in Moscow. Unfortunately, Sudipto Bhattacharya passed away this August. It was amazing how early in the beginning of the financial crisis he foresaw the problems of the global economy we later faced. The professor’s co-authors and colleagues shared their memories about working with him, which resulted in an interesting discussion about creativity and people in our profession, and about how this profession works.
— What can you say about your work in Russia and with Russian colleagues?
— I’m working with Russian colleagues not only at ICEF, but also at the HSE Faculty of Economics, and I see our cooperation as fruitful. Russian colleagues know more about the local institutional environment, and colleagues from Western countries bring in new methods of research. This is a mutually enriching process.
Oleg Seregin, HSE News Service
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