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Economics conference to honor Mark Bils, explore changes in the US economy

September 13, 2018
Mark Bils

Mark Bils. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Economists from four continents will gather at the University of Rochester this Saturday to discuss recent changes in the US economy—and to honor Mark Bils, the Hazel Fyfe Professor in Economics.

“Mark has been with the University for 30 years, and during that time he has made important contributions to our understanding of numerous economic phenomena at the firm, household, worker, and economy-wide level,” says George Alessandria, chair of the of the Department of Economics. “He is a Rochester institution.”

Bils is a macroeconomist whose work has focused on understanding business cycles and the decline of labor demand during recessions. In his most recent paper, published in the American Economic Review, Bils and coauthors Pete Klenow of Stanford University and Ben Malin of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis considered the reasons employment and hours declined during recessions.

“It’s not because wages fail to decline,” says Bils. “The drop in hours for wage and salaried workers is comparable to the drop in hours for the self-employed.  And there is no wage bargaining, or “wage stickiness,” for the self-employed.”

Along with celebrating the work of Bils, the weekend conference, titled “Dynamics of the US Economy: Challenges Ahead,” will feature presentations on such topics as e-commerce, trends in the US labor market, and mortgage pricing.

“The conference is broadly focused on understanding some of the changes that have occurred in the US economy,” says Alessandria. “There will be empirical and theoretical work assessing and measuring changes in the labor, product and housing markets, household income risk, and the financing of government debt.”

The conference will be held from 9 am to 5 pm in the Feldman Ballroom of Frederick Douglass Commons.

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