Michael Rizzo received his Ph.D. in Economics at Cornell University in May 2004. He received his M.A. in Economics from Cornell in 2002 and his B.A. in Economics, magna cum laude, from Amherst College in 1996, after spending the majority of his academic life there as a physics major. Michael’s fields of specialization include the Economics of Education, Labor Economics, Applied Econometrics, Environmental Economics and Public Economics. He is also a faculty research associate with the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute (CHERI) and a consultant with Scannell & Kurz, Inc., an enrollment management firm based in Rochester, NY.
He joined the economics faculty at the University of Rochester in the fall of 2008. Between 2006 and 2008, he was a Senior Economist and Director of Summer Programs at the American Institute for Economic Research in beautiful Great Barrington, MA. Prior to his arrival at AIER, he served as an Assistant Professor of Economics at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Among the classes he taught were Development Economics, Economics Principles, Intermediate Microeconomic Theory, Labor Economics, Research Methods in Economics and Finance, and the Economics of Higher Education.
While an academic, Michael’s research focused on the economics of higher education, in particular issues related to the financing and operation of public higher education institutions in the United States. Higher education research in various stages of development include evaluating the impact of the increasing cost of science at liberal arts colleges, the relationship between higher education spending and student outcomes, the relationship between higher education and economic growth, the social returns to higher education, a study of government earmarks for university research, modeling the enrollment decision of admitted students and a structural-dynamic analysis of the relationship between state appropriations and public university tuition.
However, his research interests are far broader today, and a combination of lack of talent and changing motivation are leading me into studying and writing about basic economics principles for a wider (i.e. non-academic) audience. Since 2006 I have been a regular writer of popular economics.
For the Spring of 2003 and 2004, he taught undergraduate labor economics (ILRLE 240) in Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Before coming to Cornell, he served for a year as an Area Coordinator in the Residential Life Department at Amherst College and spent two years as an Investment Banker at Putnam, Lovell and Thornton (PLT) in New York City. While at PLT, he worked as an analyst in both the Mergers & Acquisitions and the Structured Finance Groups and was a Series 7 and Series 63 Registered Representative. While enrolled at Amherst College, Michael was a member of the varsity football team, a resident counselor and coordinator of student security services.
Michael stands 5’4″, and has remained that height since the age of 14. He lives with his wife Rachel, their daughter Amelia and son Isaac, and their two Boston Terriers in Bushnell’s Basin, NY. He and his wife are devoted members of the Lynah Faithful and enjoy golfing, bird watching, minor league baseball, Penn State Football and rugby. Michael also enjoys hiking, kayaking, camping, reading non-fiction and history and playing acoustic guitar.
When I told my mother I had completed my Ph.D. she came back with, “Can you write me a prescription now?” I am also sorry to report that I am utterly powerless to predict what the stock-market will do, or interest rates for that matter. What do I do? What good am I anyway?
All of us are economists to some degree since we are all in the business of making decisions. What makes economists a little different is that they are always conscious of several fundamentals that must be understood in order to avoid making a mess of the world. It sounds rather simple, and it is. To be an economist, all you need to do is understand the concepts of incentives, unintended consequences, opportunity costs, shadow prices, relative prices, relative supply and demand and sunk costs (these last two can be broadly classified as understanding the word “marginal”). Just about all of us confront these decisions on a daily basis. In the coming weeks and months I will try and describe these principles as they arise in my daily life. In the meantime, to keep you busy, think of how the following scenarios can be addressed using these simple concepts: Are wars good for the economy? Do seat belts save lives? Is borrowing a book from the public library free? Why are surfboards more valuable than clean air in southern California? Why do you eat until you can’t breathe when you are at the buffet line? Do we really value professional basketball players more than daycare providers? Why do so many people drive gas guzzling automobiles? The questions are endless …
Seven final thoughts:
Here is a more detailed description of my background. Here is something that mirrors how I approach teaching. Here is Richard Epstein encapsulating in two minutes what I think I understand about how our world works and what I believe to be morally right and wrong about it. I don’t know if it can be said any better in such a short space.