Focus on Sabbatical: Ted Schmidt

While many American economists are looking east, Ted P. Schmidt, associate professor of economics and finance, has been looking Ted P.   Schmidtsouth. “Latin America is a growing economic power,” he said, “and, taken as a group, its countries will be competitive with China and India.”

Schmidt planned to further his research as well as complete and submit four articles for publication during his sabbatical in spring 2009. He met his goal for publications, but the focus of his research changed when Alfredo Castillo Polanco, professor of economics and business at the University of Quintana Roo in Chetumal, Mexico, suggested they establish a joint research program on international financial issues.

Schmidt visited Quintana Roo in April 2009 and, along with initiating the research project, presented “The Public-Private Investment Program: An Assessment of the U.S. Treasury’s Plan to Reduce Banks’ Toxic Assets.”

The two economists met in 2006 when Castillo visited Buffalo State as part of an effort to expand international opportunities between the two institutions. In 2007, Schmidt traveled to Quintana Roo to take part in its third annual Colloquium on Small Business. The first article they coauthored, “Exchange Rate Regimes and the Impact of the Global Crisis on Emerging Economies,” will appear in Heterodox Analyses of Financial Crises and Reform, to be published by Edward Elgar in 2010.

That research sparked an ongoing interest in finding ways to measure and predict the performance of the developing economies in Latin America. “You can’t analyze Latin American economies the same way you study Asia or the EU,” said Schmidt. Many Latin American countries rely on exporting natural resources such as oil or copper, unlike Asian countries that export manufactured goods; and Latin American governments are more likely to either nationalize the resources or to be heavily involved in negotiating their export and sale than are European governments.

Schmidt and Castillo are currently developing a model to examine their ideas, and they have two working papers in progress, including “A Post-Keynesian Theory of Savings” that challenges orthodox economic theories about saving and spending. Schmidt’s work in Mexico also provides him with an opportunity to improve his Spanish, which he began to study in 2007. “I want to be able to understand the everyday general conversation and newspapers in Latin America and someday apply for a Fulbright,” he said. He also agreed to be co-editor of an online journal that Quintana Roo will launch in fall 2010, relating to its annual colloquium on small-business development.

Schmidt finds his role in the colloquium satisfying. “It’s both academic and hands-on,” he said. “Some of the people there are small-business owners who need to understand the global economy to succeed.” He will attend the sixth annual conference in October.

During his sabbatical, Schmidt wrote two articles that were published in Artvoice, an alternative weekly newspaper in Buffalo. “Economists who don’t subscribe to the mainstream economic theories need to get their message across especially after the market collapse and bank failures of 2008,” said Schmidt. He has become an advocate of using the Web, too, and wrote an editorial to that effect in the online publication Heterodox Economics Newsletter, which he co-edits.

He also took part in a Buffalo State campus panel discussion about the global economic crisis that was sponsored by the Economics and Finance Department on campus in April 2009, and helped plan the successful fourth biennial Cross-Border Post-Keynesian Conference, held in October 2009 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

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