Ph.D Candidate in Economics
Department of Economics
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
Research Interests [PDF]
Political Economy, Applied Microeconomics, Public Finance, Law and Economics, Judicial Politics
Curriculum Vitae [PDF]
Lecturer/Instructor for Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University
Intermediate Economics, ‘Junior Summer Institute’ Program, 2009-2012
Introductory Economics, Master of Public Affairs ‘Math Camp’, 2008-2009
Review of Economics, Joint Ph.D. Program in Social Policy, 2011-12
Teaching Assistant for Economics Department, Princeton University
Legal and Regulatory Approaches to Markets (WWS523), 2012
Introduction to Microeconomics (ECO100), 2010-2012
History of Economic Thought (ECO386), 2010
Law & Economics (ECO324), 2009
Twobes Prize for Outstanding Teaching, 2011 (for role as Teaching Assistant in ECO100 - Introduction to Microeconomics)
Teaching Evaluations [PDF]
Teaching Statement [PDF]
Sample Syllabus [PDF]
Psychological Belief Distortions and Debt (Economics Job Market Paper) [PDF]
Abstract: Anecdotal and empirical evidence suggest that voters are unduly pessimistic about the duration of recessions, and unduly optimistic about the duration of booms. Under these conditions, political competition will cause parties to choose fiscal policy that under-accumulates debt during recessions, and under-accumulates savings during booms - giving fiscal policy a procyclic flavor. Belief misalignment results in endogenous time inconsistent fiscal policy, even if all actors are rational and time consistent, and share common stage preferences. Equilibrium taxes will be more volatile than planner taxes. Moreover, equilibrium taxes will be higher than planner taxes during recessions, and lower during booms, as long as the long run level of optimism or pessimism is not unduly large. The distorted economy nevertheless converges to the same long run equilibrium as the planner’s economy, although the transition path is different.
Ruling Narrowly: Learning, Experimenting and Law Creation (Politics Job Market Paper) [PDF]
Abstract: I develop a dynamic model of law creation, in which the court learns about the ideal legal rule through the cases it hears. Cases result from the rational choices of agents responding to the court's previous decisions. Learning requires experimentation, and so is only possible if experimentation is incentive compatible for the agent. The court provides these incentives by setting penalties, and writing opinions that commit the court to sanctioning or punishing various actions.
The model generates several predictions. First, the efficacy of opinion writing is asymmetric - the court has an incentive to write broad permissive opinions, but narrow restrictive opinions. Second, the court's learning is inefficient - it does not induce learning that minimizes the expected future cost of uncertainty. Third, the court will often preemptively write broad opinions, to hedge against the risk of not being able to revise its opinion soon enough in the future.
Less Representation is Better: How Big States Benefit from Bicameralism [PDF]
Abstract: A common wisdom is that bicameralism, by over-representing small states in the upper chamber, protects small states, in a federation, from policy usurpation by big states. Using a standard model of legislative bargaining, I show that this wisdom may not be well founded - and that bicameralism may actually exacerbate the inequalities that may otherwise arise under unicameralism. Contrary to many other models, I assume that the preferences of upper and lower house agents from the same state are correlated. This complementarity skews the equilibrium in favour of big states, by reducing the number of lower house agents that must be `purchased' by an upper house proposer from a big state - allowing big states to retain a larger surplus, and to exclude small states from the coalition more frequently. This effect is robust to moderate increases in proposal power that bicameralism may afford to small states.
‘Suiting’ Yourself in the Foot: How Frivolous Law Suits Can Harm Opportunistic Litigants [PDF]
Abstract: When there is asymmetric information about the extent of a harm, an opportunistic litigant may initiate legal proceedings and extract a settlement offer from a defendant, even if the plaintiff knows she cannot prevail in court. Such frivolous litigation is generally assumed to cause potential tortfeasors to under-engage in the tortious activity, and has generated calls for various reforms of tort law. In this paper, I argue that, in fact, the opposite outcome may be true - that potential tortfeasors may increase the level of tortious activity anticipating opportunistic entry - and that this will reduce the likelihood of frivolous suits being filed. Moreover, I show that the threat of future nuisance litigation actually harms potential litigants, even if they do not file suit. The paper suggests a novel justification for various tort reforms, as enabling a Pareto improvement - that benefits both the defendant and potential plaintiffs.
Restricted Least Squares Estimator in Under-identified Models [PDF]
Abstract: The need often arises to estimate linear models whose regressors do not satisfy the standard rank conditions - for example in models with dummy variables. The problem of singularity is not that the model cannot be estimated, but rather that it cannot be done so uniquely. A common practice is to omit sufficiently many regressors as is required to alleviate the rank deficiency. However, under such an approach, the interpretation of the estimates of the remaining parameters is often found wanting. An alternative approach is to impose appropriate restrictions upon the parameter space that help identify a unique solution (from the many). This note provides conditions on the set of such parametric restrictions that are sufficient for a unique solution to exist, and provides an explicit characterization of the restricted least square estimators.