Department of Economics
M.A. in Economics with a Concentration in Forecasting

 

Highlights:

Public Sector Forecasting

Our location in the State Capital and the work experience of our faculty in Washington D.C. give us the incentive to develop public sector forecasting as the program’s niche. The economics and politics of revenue forecasting, both at the state and the federal levels, the mechanics of Social Security Trust fund projections, traffic projections for roadways and public transit, projections for future welfare rolls, Medicare and Medicaid expenditures, applications for disability insurance programs, etc. all require the use of sophisticated forecasting principles. Forecasting in the public sector is very important and needs special skills. For the last few years, Federal Forecasters in Washington D.C. have been holding annual conferences. We know of no other program with a similar offering, making our program is unique in this respect.

Research Seminar and Master’s Essay

Students in ClassAs a capstone experience a research seminar will run throughout the spring semester as a workshop meeting once a week. Students will present their research in the workshop, and many forecasting experts from outside (both academic and non-academic) will be invited to present their work and projects. This will give the M.A. students scope to interact with the practitioners of economic forecasting. Our Ph.D. students doing work in economic forecasting will also participate in these exchanges.

Internship

An internship in a business or government agency will be an integral part of the program. We are placed well to find such internships given our location in the state capital. Many of our former M.A. and Ph.D. students hold jobs with state government agencies, including the Division of the Budget, Assembly Ways and Means Committee, Health Department, Department of Economic Development, Tax Department, and VA Health Care. Additionally, we have contacts in the private sector, including local bank headquarters, the Albany Center of Institutional Investment, General Electric, and Merrill Lynch. In addition we have contacts with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and many businesses in New York City. In Washington D.C. we will be able to place interns in such organizations as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, Social Security Administration, and the Department of Transportation.

Econometrics Research Institute

The Econometric Research Institute currently sponsors two major projects. One project is the development of a transportation index to be used as a leading economic indicator. The second project involves conducting two economic surveys to monitor the New York economy: a quarterly Blue Chip type survey of economic experts, and a bi-annual establishment survey. These surveys are sponsored by the New York State Division of the Budget, and they require the research assistance of large number of undergraduate and graduate students on a regular basis. Therefore, the Economics Department is a natural place for students in the program to get hands-on experience in conducting and analyzing business surveys.
University at Albany


 

Curriculum

The M.A. in Economics requires four core courses: Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, and two courses in Quantitative Methods (Statistics and Econometrics). Students in the forecasting concentration will take three required forecasting courses and an elective in a field in which forecasting is important. As capstone experiences, students in the concentration are also required to participate in an internship, where they receive practical forecasting training, and to undertake a research project as part of writing a master's essay or participating in a research seminar. The curriculum can be completed in a full calendar year, as outlined below, but students can also pursue the program over a longer time.

The curriculum for the M.A. program with the new concentration in economic forecasting is as follows. Each course yields three credits, and the M.A. degree requires thirty.

Fall
Eco 500: Microeconomics

Optimization models of the consumer and firm are used to study competitive and noncompetitive markets. Topics in welfare economics, the theory of market failure, tax incidence, and income distribution are discussed. Empirical research based on microeconomic models is reviewed.

Eco 501: Macroeconomics

Theories of national output, employment, and prices. Analysis of policies for stabilization and growth. Empirical research and applications are reviewed.

Eco 519: Economic Surveys and Forecasting

This course introduces the survey methodology in economics and business for forecasting purposes. Surveys include those of households, experts, and establishments. Topics include: Survey data and methodologies, evaluation of survey data and forecasts, use of survey data in time series modeling techniques for forecasting purposes. Discussion of such important macroeconomic indicators as the leading economic indicators, NAPM index, Diffusion Indices, Consumers sentiment, Price and Industrial Production indices, etc. will be included.

Eco 520: Quantitative Methods I

Introduction to quantitative methods in economics. Techniques of data analysis, statistical theory, and linear regression are applied to economic problems.

Spring
Eco 521: Quantitative Methods II

Continuation of Eco 520. Econometric extensions of linear regression, forecasting, and methods of analyzing time-series and cross-section data.

Eco 525: Time Series and Forecasting

This course introduces univariate and multivariate time series models for forecasting in economics. Topics include ARIMA, VAR and GARCH models, unit roots and cointegration, out-of-sample forecasting techniques, model selection, response function analysis and variance decompositions, state space models, various non-linear models, Bayesian approaches and forecast evaluation. Use will be made of case studies and real-life applications in business and finance

Eco 529: Forecasting in the Public Sector

The course offers a comprehensive analysis of the role, importance, and mechanics of economic forecasting in the public sector including the Federal, State governments, and in international organizations like IMF, World Bank, and OECD. The quality of these forecasts in relation to private market forecasts will be explored. The importance of long-term and short-term forecasts for revenues, taxes, economic growth, Medicaid and Medicare expenditures, welfare caseloads, transportation, etc. will be studied from the standpoint of planning and budgetary purposes. The role of bias in these forecasts due to economic and political uncertainties, and other institutional factors are analyzed.

Eco 592: Seminar in Economic Forecasting

Theory and application of forecasting techniques in the public and private sectors. A research paper is required.

One Elective Course –

Suggested electives include; Economics of the Public Sector (Eco 530), Transportation Planning (Geog 563), Demography (Soc 551), Demographic Techniques (Soc 552), Financial Management (Fin 525), Marketing Management (Mkt 522), and Health Policy (Eco 511 or Hpm 511), and selections from other university departments with the approval from the advisor.

Summer
Eco 590: Internship in Forecasting

Experience in the application of forecasting techniques in government, business, or the nonprofit sector.

 

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