MAE Students – BCG Strategy Cup 2013 Winners!

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) recently organized the 7th edition of its BCG Strategy Cup, one of the top business competitions in the Czech Republic.

Teams from Czech and Slovak universities participated in the competition. Their task: provide strategic advice on potential acquisitions for a global mining company. Finding an inventive and feasible solution demanded intensive brainstorming well into the night. Jiri Sykora and Jakub Cermak—both MAE students at CERGE-EI—and their teammate Andrea Sandorova (CVUT) had only five days at their disposal, and it was the first time they participated in such a challenging event.

Jiri provided us with insight into the team’s strategy: “We started by analyzing the individual commodities to determine which one would best fit into our company’s current portfolio. Based on this analysis, we formed a hypothesis about our potential recommendation and subsequently tried to validate it by company-level analysis. This was the most demanding part of the competition as we had to create detailed financial models with cash flows predictions for all three acquisition targets. Next, we identified the key value drivers of the acquisition, quantified synergies and performed a pro-forma analysis for the combined group. Based on this evidence, we supported our original hypothesis of acquiring the Colombian coal mine and recommended this to the company.”

Finally, the team had to present their recommendations to the BCG consultants and answer a series of demanding questions. Jiri and Jakub were extremely excited to find out they had won the competition, knowing that it will be a glowing achievement on their road to professional success.

The CERGE-EI community is very proud of them and their impressive results – CONGRATULATIONS!

2013 CERGE-EI Achievements: A Letter from Director Stepan Jurajda

Dear friends, colleagues and supporters,

This is again the time of the year to thank you all for your support of CERGE-EI’s education mission, which now stretches into its third decade. We continue our service to the post-soviet region by providing top- notch economics education and research. Allow me to briefly highlight some of our achievements of 2013:

  • This year CERGE-EI faculty and researchers published 30 articles in ISI impact-ranked journals including Journal of Economic Theory, Economic Journal, Psychological Science, or Review of Economics and Statistics. As a result, we have maintained our top position in global research rankings generated by the Social Science Research Network and Research Papers in Economics, in which CERGE-EI currently stands in the 3rd and 6th percentile, respectively.
  • Students from 35 countries studied at CERGE-EI in 2013. These included 26 new students enrolled in our PhD program and 20 students in the third cohort of the Masters in Applied Economics (MAE) program coming from 11 countries as diverse as Germany, India, Nigeria, Russia and the US.
  • The Teaching Fellows program, designed to boost undergraduate economics education, supported 76 fellows serving over 10,000 students at 41 different universities in 18 post-soviet countries.
  • We welcomed Marek Kapička and Nikolas Mittag to the full-time faculty. Prior to joining us, Marek became an Associate Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, while Nikolas joined us after finishing his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago.

Third Place Research Prize Awarded to CERGE-EI Graduate Peter Ondko

The Governor of the National Bank of Slovakia (NBS) Jozef Makúch, has granted third prize to our Ph.D. graduate Peter Ondko for his dissertation titled “Essays on Access to External Finance, Acquisitions and Productivity”.

RESEARCH FOCUS

Peter’s thesis consists of three chapters that are empirical investigations of classical questions in the financial and industrial economics literature on the influence of institutions and industry conditions on firm’s access to finance, the propensity to merge, and productivity.

In the first chapter Peter examines whether financial markets development facilitates the efficient allocation of resources. He shows that firms in industries with high growth opportunities use more external financing in financially more developed countries.

In the second chapter, he investigates the role of productivity in the selection of firms into acquisitions and whether acquisitions lead to productivity gains. He concludes that there is positive assortative matching in revenue productivity for firms engaging in vertical acquisitions and economically and statistically significant productivity gains exist only for targets acquired in horizontal acquisitions.

In the last section of his work he demonstrates that liberalization of network industries in the EU leads to substantial productivity growth.

THE IMPACT OF THE PRIZE

The NBS Governor says about the prize:”…the aim of the granting the prize is to support the best economics students in Slovakia and help them to become an inspiration for next generations of students”.

ABOUT THE COMPETITION

The NBS organized the competition in 2013 to honor its 20th. Anniversary. Students  were invited to apply with their theses or dissertations which investigate the fields of monetary economics, macroeconomics, financial economics and financial stability. All works submitted had to fulfill strict requirements, particularly exceptional quality and unique contribution to scientific knowledge.

CERGE-EI Panel Discussion & Alumni Reunion in London!

We did it! After several months of careful planning, numerous meetings and Skype calls between London and Prague, we finally did it. On November 28th, we kicked off CERGE-EI’s first ever UK Alumni Event!

But make no mistake, this was no ordinary alumni gathering. We wanted an event that would play to the main strength of so many talented CERGE-EI economists: spirited intellectual discussion. With that in mind, we organized a special Panel Discussion and invited experts and special guests to join the debate.

Thanks to Alan Brown (Board member of the CERGE-EI US Foundation) and his enthusiastic support to host the event at Schroders, we could meet in the heart of London, a few steps from St. Pauls Cathedral. Susan Walton, also a Foundation Board member, worked tirelessly to make it all happen. And of course, we all wanted to see each other. Many of us have not seen each other for years and some of us have never met before. Our senior alumni Anita Taçi thus held opening remarks to welcome all the guests in the name of the Alumni Community.

And what have we discussed? The title of the debate was “Is German Discipline Enough?” The Euro is off the front pages – for now.  The balance of payments crisis in the periphery is easing, the sense of crisis has abated, and the Eurozone has bought some time. However, we know that the true crisis is not yet over. Before the next shock strikes, what are the prospects that the Eurozone will use the time to establish a Banking Union, and to move towards a proper fiscal Transfer Union? All these issues are truly important for the future of Europe and stability of the old continent. Therefore, our second opening remark was held by Czech Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency, Michael Žantovský, who recalled the ideas of the Czech president, Václav Havel, and related the topic to the problem of leadership and the ideas a leader represents.

With so many esteemed speakers, the panel discussion proved highly provocative. Alan Brown moderated the discussion and introduced all four speakers, who provided different views on the same problem. The first speaker was Petr Zemčík, Director of Economic Research at Moody’s Analytics in London but whom many of us remember from his time as a professor at CERGE-EI. He discussed the role of Germany and suggested that rebalancing the export imparity between Germany and the periphery would not solve the Eurozone’s biggest problems. The missing transmission mechanism and incomplete banking integration means that deposits in different states of the Eurozone have different values, and so the entire system remains fragile.

The second speaker was Prof. Jan Švejnar, one of the founders of CERGE-EI and currently the Director of the Center on Global Economic Governance at Columbia University. Prof. Švejnar provided a parallel between the US and the Eurozone. He stressed that recent incomplete integration in the Eurozone is certainly an unstable equilibrium and either deeper integration is needed or the Eurozone must go the opposite direction. Then, John Nugée took the podium. He opened his speech by pointing out that the Eurozone monetary policy is causing a positive feedback for all its countries. The widely discussed internal devaluation of the periphery is not a solution for the Eurozone. He concluded with a logical chain of unions which Europe has to undertake, starting with the currency union and leading through the monetary, banking and fiscal union, on an inexorable march towards full political union. According to Nugée, full political union is the inevitable endpoint on the Eurozone’s path to a stable solution.

Andrew Lilico, Director and Principal of Europe Economics, discussed the lack of ideas behind current European integration. He stressed that two generations ago, the leaders were breaking down walls and restoring democracy throughout Europe. One generation ago, the leaders were unifying Europe and creating the big ideas of the European Union, and, consequently, the Eurozone. The current generation, by contrast, has no more big ideas left and is mired in small problems and technocratic issues. In the end he also cited full political union as the only viable solution.

Long and spirited discussion between speakers and the audience emerged. Audience members put difficult questions to the panel about the future of Europe and democracy. After the formal discussion ended, the debate continued informally at a lovely wine reception. Many of us then ended up in a nearby watering hole, which is, however, an issue for a different blog post…

All agreed that the first UK Alumni Event was a huge success and has set the bar high for future Alumni gatherings, whether in the UK, in Prague, or in the many other places where CERGE-EI alumni are working to change the world. See you there next time!

View more pictures from the event here!

 

CERGE-EI Will Welcome A New Director, Prof. Michal Kejak, at the Start of 2014!

CERGE-EI is delighted to welcome Professor Michal Kejak as our new director effective on January 1, 2014. Professor Kejak joined the CERGE-EI faculty in 1997 and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2007. He has served on CERGE-EI’s Executive and Supervisory Committee and twice been Deputy Director of Research. He was a Fulbright Scholar at New York University in 2010 and has also visited at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna.

Professor Kejak’s work has been published in journals such as the Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking, the Economic Journal, the Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control and The Economics of Transition.  His research has been supported through numerous competitive grants including from the European Union, the Global Development Network, and the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic.

In welcoming Prof. Kejak CERGE-EI is also expressing its gratitude to Prof. Stepan Jurajda, who is stepping down from the role of Director after his four years of visionary leadership.