Two U of T economists receive prestigious 2019 Bank of Canada Fellowship Award

March 18, 2019 by Chris Sasaki - A&S News

The Bank of Canada announced today that two University of Toronto economists, Michelle Alexopoulos and Diego Restuccia, are the 2019 recipients of the Bank’s prestigious Fellowship Award which grants recipients annual funding of up to $90,000 for a term of up to five years.

Alexopoulos is a professor in the Department of Economics in the University’s Faculty of Arts & Science. Her research focuses on the use of data mining and textual analysis of non-traditional sources of information to fill existing data gaps.

Restuccia, also a professor in U of T’s Department of Economics, researches an essential question in economics: what explains the large per capita income differences across countries and the productivity growth of nations?

Path-breaking research makes Alexopoulos first female recipient of Fellowship

“I am grateful to the Bank of Canada’s Governing Council and Fellowship Nominating Committee for awarding me this prestigious award,” says Alexopoulos. “It is an honour to have been selected and I am proud to be the first female to receive this prestigious fellowship.”

Alexopoulos’ work has concentrated on measurement in two key areas—technical change and sentiment/uncertainty—to gain insights into the economic effects of shocks and to test related theories.

“The funding will enable me to expand my research into the use of textual analysis and data-mining techniques for exploring the economic effects of uncertainty and technical change. I look forward to collaborating with the many talented economists at the Bank to provide real-time insights into trends and developments in the Canadian economy and in our country’s key trading partners.”

“Michelle is highly deserving of, and a perfect match for, the Bank of Canada Fellowship,” says Dwayne Benjamin, a professor in the Department of Economics and Vice Dean of Graduate Education in U of T’s Faculty of Arts & Science. “Her work combines the best blend of scholarship and policy relevance that economics can offer. Her research methods are highly data-intensive, and I expect that the techniques that she uses, and the models that she develops, will be of direct value not only to macroeconomic policy in Canada, but also to text-based scholarship in other disciplines.”

Restuccia reshaping economic literature

Restuccia’s research delves into key current issues: the secular decline in productivity observed in many developed economies in recent decades; the global economic transformation occurring in fast growing economies such as those in China and India; the upcoming global shifts implied by the emergence of fast-growing economies in Africa; and the changes in inequality and opportunities that shape economic policies and the political process in both developed and developing economies.

“It is an honour to be selected for the Bank of Canada Fellowship Award this year,” says Restuccia, “given the stature and professional accomplishments of current and previous recipients of the award.

“The award represents a unique opportunity to advance my research program, as well as interact with and contribute to researchers and policy makers at the Bank. I appreciate and value the opportunity to bridge my work on macroeconomics and productivity to the broad areas of interest at the Bank.”

Ettore Damiano, chair of the Department of Economics, is “truly delighted that Diego’s accomplishments are being recognized through this fellowship. An outstanding researcher, an exceptional teacher and a dedicated supervisor, Diego is an exemplary member of the department.

“His work has reshaped the economics literature by providing an entirely new and convincing alternative to previous explanations for why some nations are rich and others poor, and why there is a difference in productivity across countries.

“It is striking,” adds Damiano, “that both recipients of this year’s Bank of Canada Fellowship Awards are members of the Department of Economics.”

Alexopoulos and Restuccia are the only fellowship recipients this year. They join three previous U of T recipients: Peter Christoffersen from the Rotman School of Management; and Daniel Trefler and Shouyong Shi, both from the Department of Economics.

Fostering excellence in economic research

The Bank of Canada Fellowship Award provides financial support to leading academics at Canadian universities who are widely recognized for their expertise and excellence in areas of inquiry important to the Bank’s core functions and whose research contributes to the development of knowledge and research capabilities in those areas. It also contributes to the education and development of Canada’s researchers in fields related to the Bank’s core functions.

“We are pleased,” says Deputy Governor Lawrence Schembri, “to foster collaboration between our researchers and outstanding academics who are advancing knowledge in fields that support the Bank of Canada’s core functions.”

With files from the Bank of Canada.