I am the project manager for History Lab at Columbia University. Before this, I was statistical programmer at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University. I received my PhD in political science from Emory University and a BA from the College of William and Mary. My work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Stata Journal, The Journal of East Asian Studies, International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Politics and the Review of International Organizations. My research focuses on the effects of political institutions on economic outcomes. More specifically, I am interested in why institutions such as trade agreements or central bank independence sometimes affect trade or inflation and at other times has no effect. I have examined these issues both at the macro and the micro-level. Additionally, some of my research focuses more specifcally on methodological issues involved in looking at these issues. On my published papers and working papers pages are links to different papers. Below, I provide an overview linking my research interests to my work.

Monetary policy

Does central bank independence (CBI) lead to lower inflation? When will countries reform their central banks to give them greater autonomy? Moreover, if CBI does lead to lower inflation by influencing public perceptions, does it affect other economic outcomes that investors care about such as foreign direct investment or bond rates? In a series of papers with Cristina Bodea, we explore these issues using our own updated index of central bank independence.

Our first paper, forthcoming in International Organization examined the relationship between CBI and inflation and monetary growth, arguing that CBI has the largest effect on inflation and monetary growth in conjunction with a democratic system that makes changes to central bank laws more difficult.

In a follow-up paper forthcoming in the Journal of Politics, we explore the diffusion of central bank independence since the early 1990s as well as CBI's effect on foreign direct investment and 10-year bond rates.

Additionally, we have a working paper that examines whether CBI has an effect on a country's credit rating. Another paper focuses on the relationship between CBI and economic growth and income equality. We are also currently working on updating the data and turning our series of papers into a book

Trade policy

While my research on monetary policy finds a strong effect of institutions on economic outcomes, my research on trade institutions finds a more ambiguous effect on trade. Generally, my research on trade suggests that it is important to examine the details of the trade institutions such as preferental trade agreements (PTAs). It is not enough to trade all trade agreements the same; instead we need to look at

Soo Yeon Kim and I argued, in a paper published in the Journal of East Asian Studies, that the provisions of PTAs might influence their effect on trade. Just as central banks with greater independence have a larger effect on inflation, PTAs that have more stringent restrictions might see a larger increase in trade. Coding the provisions of 57 PTAs on 19 dimensions, we find evidence that stronger PTAs have a larger effect on trade.

Julia Gray and I explored the microfoundations of the effects of PTAs. Building on Julia's argument that who a country signs a PTA with is important so that agreements with unstable countries are not as beneficial as those with more stable countries, we find strong support among the mass public. In a survey on Amazon's mTurk, we find that respondents rated the risk of neutral countries more highly when they signed with countries such as Venezuela or North Korea than when they signed with Canada or Singapore. Moreover, the biggest reason respondents gave for evaluating countries as more risky was political reasons.

On the other hand, Joanne Gowa and I have found less of an effect of trade institutions in our papers. Instead, we find that often it is only the largest countries in an agreement that benefit. Our paper in the Review of International Organizations finds that in trade agreements that have bargaining rules similar to the GATT, trade increases largely among the largest members and the smallest members do not benefit. Similarly, in our study on interwar trade published in International Organization we find the trading agreements during the period had little effect on trade, again with the exception of trade involving the largest country in the agreement.

My newest project, with Matt Connelly and Nathan Fabius, examines whether governments can promote exports. Using recently declassified State Department files, we find that more communications about trade promotion by diplomats leads to an increase in exports with those countries, but not a similar effect on imports.

Methodology

I have also done some work on methodology.

Dustin Tingley and I adapted an R command on causal mediation analysis to Stata. A paper describing the command was published in the Stata Journal. I wrote another short article for the Stata Journal on how best to use Dropbox and Stata. Dropbox has made collaborating with scholars much easier but makes sharing do files difficult because files are installed in different locations on different user's computers. I wrote a Stata command that searches for a user's Dropbox installation and changes directory to that location.

My work on trade policy has led to an interest in the gravity model used to examine trade. While most economists advocate the incorporation of multilateral trade resistance, political scientists have been slow to adopt this. In a chapter in the Oxford Handbook of the Politics of Trade, I discuss different attempts by economists to incorporate multilateral trade resistance into gravity models.

Stephen Chaudoin, Jude Hays, and I are intersted in the attempts by researchers to deal with the endogeneity of institutions. If similar factors influence both whether countries sign into an agreement and the outcomes of the agreement, it is difficult to disentangle the real effects of the institutions. Various methods have been suggested to deal with this issue, but we show that they are not adequate to deal with the problem and will often lead to false positives. We suggest some sensitivity tests to minimize the potential of false positive effects of institutions.