My Evolution as an Economist: Christopher A. Sims

Wednesday, April 4 at 7:30pm to 9:00pm

Trinity's Nobel Economists Lecture Series, begun in 1984 by former E.M. Stevens Distinguished Professor of Economics William Breit, brings some of the most brilliant and influential economists of the post-war era to campus.

Based on the general theme "My Evolution as an Economist," the lectures offer rare autobiographical insights into the Nobel laureates' contributions, the sources and nature of their discoveries, and their growth and development as economists.

This next speaker will be Christopher A. Sims. The lecture will be on April 4, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. in Laurie Auditorium. Christopher A. Sims, with his colleague Thomas J. Sargent, was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2011 for “empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy.” Statistically distinguishing between cause and effect has long been a challenging issue to handle for economists and other social scientists.

Professor Sims was able to separate, for example, how changes in the money supply might affect inflation as well as how changes in inflation might affect the money supply. His approach also permitted the identification of rationally expected versus rationally unexpected changes in policy.

Professor Sims popularized “vector autoregression" (VAR) as a preferred method of distinguishing between cause/effect. Many economists and noneconomists have since employed VARs, which can provide a visual pattern over time of the relationships among multiple variables.

In other macroeconomic work, he has examined fiscal policy connections to prices and an expectations alternative to rational expectations, termed “rational inattention.”  That is, if information is costly to interpret, many people may become inattentive, resulting in less rapid changes in product prices and quantities than implied by the rational expectations hypothesis.

Professor Sims completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard as a math major. Following a year of economics graduate study at the University of California Berkeley, he returned to finish his Ph.D. at Harvard. He taught there briefly before accepting a post at the University of Minnesota, where he remained for 20 years. Then, following a move to Yale, he settled in 1999 at Princeton, where he is now the John J.F. Sherrod ’52 University Professor of Economics.

He has been a Visiting Scholar at several Federal Reserve Banks and at the International Monetary Fund. He served as president of the Econometric Society and, in 2010, was elected president of the American Economic Association for the year 2012.

The Nobel Economists Lecture Series is sponsored by Trinity’s Department of Economics and made possible by the late Gen. Elbert DeCoursey and Mrs. Esther DeCoursey of San Antonio.

Laurie Auditorium
One Trinity Place, San Antonio, Texas 78212


Students, Faculty and Staff, Open to the Public



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