Category Archives: Interviews

Interview with Veronika Jelínková on co-founding and studying MA in Applied Economics at CERGE-EI


Taking a bit of time out of Veronika Jelínková’s busy lifestyle in global innovation hub, San Francisco Bay Area, we caught up with the Czech economist on launching and studying at CERGE-EI.

Veronika, who studied the MA in Applied Economics at CERGE-EI after graduating from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, recently co-founded, a movement that connects people who apply metalearning in their work. Metalearning is simply the art of learning anything smarter. It is a complex know-how that includes various areas such as emotional intelligence, biohacking, pareto rule, neuroscience, psychology, biology and other cool fields that help people unlock their superpowers.
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Life after New Economic Talent: Interview with Salim Turdaliev

As we count down the days till The New Economic Talent 2016 deadline, we did a bit of reflecting on previous NET competitions. Last year, the top three of 138 submissions presented their thesis in Prague and a total of $1500 USD was awarded to winners. But the benefits of the competition go beyond just money and travel; we caught up with past NET finalist, Salim Turdaliev, to gain a fresh insight into the contest and his life in academia today. Continue reading Life after New Economic Talent: Interview with Salim Turdaliev


A recipe for inspiration

DSC_0198Take one ambitious and curious junior researcher. Give him three months in a city that is home to some of the world’s top learning institutions. Offer him the chance to test his ideas with thought leaders in his field. What happened? We asked Vojta Bartos.

Vojta specialises in development and behavioral economics. He is currently investigating how extreme and seasonal shocks impact the enforcement of social norms, focusing on agricultural communities in Afghanistan. He spent the fall semester of 2014 at New York University. Now back in Prague, he shared his recent experience with us.
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Teaching on the Frontier: An Interview with PhD Student Tomáš Miklánek

Education in economics is one of the least reformed areas in the post-communist world. University classrooms across the former Soviet bloc severely lack motivated and professional economic instructors. Poor instruction engenders future thinkers, voters, and leaders with distorted or no understanding of modern economic principles. Young people are robbed of a quality education that can aid them in thinking critically about the problems facing their societies. This subsequently impedes the prospects for greater openness, growth, and prosperity in this important part of the world.

CERGE-EI Teaching Fellowship Program supports dedicated young men and women who enter undergraduate classrooms across the region to teach modern, market-based economics to the next generation. Teaching with novel methods and modern textbooks, fellows introduce new ways of thinking. Beyond their strong impact in the classroom, the fellows demonstrate best practices to other faculty members, raising quality throughout their host institutions.

Tomáš Miklánek, a CERGE-EI PhD Student from Slovakia, wanted to make a contribution to the future prosperity of the region and decided to join the Teaching Fellows Program to teach a course. Teaching in the classroom is never an easy thing, but Tomáš had his mind set on an even bigger challenge. Rather than teach in his native Slovakia (or in the Czech Republic, a close cultural and linguistic cousin), Tomáš decided to teach in Voronezh, Russia, a remote city in Southwestern Russia.

Why did he choose Voronezh? What experiences and impact did he have there? Watch the brief video interview with Tomáš to learn more!


Wine, Big Macs, and Natural Experiments: CERGE-EI Interview with Professor Orley Ashenfelter

Orley Ashenfelter is the Joseph Douglas Green 1895 Professor of Economics at Princeton University. Professor Ashenfelter recently received a prestigious honorary degree from Charles University. While in Prague, Professor Ashenfelter sat down with CERGE-EI PhD Student Liyou G. Borga to discuss his research interests and his long experiences as a supporter of CERGE-EI. Watch the full interview here!:


CERGE-EI Interview: Inci Otker-Robe from the World Bank

Inci Otker-Robe is the Chief Technical Specialist in Finance for Development in the Financial and Private Sector Development Network (FPD), The World Bank. Dr. Otker-Robe recently visited CERGE-EI with other World Bank colleagues to present the major findings from the WB’s 2014 World Development Report. The report, titled Risk and Opportunity: Managing Risk for Development, examines how improving risk management can lead to large gains in development and poverty reduction.

Dr. Otker-Robe sat down with CERGE-EI PhD Student Liyou G. Borga to discuss the report. Watch the full interview here!:


The Challenges and Achievements of Labor Economics: An Interview with Professor Hank Farber (Princeton)

Henry Farber (Princeton University) is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of Economics and an Associate of the Industrial Relations Section at Princeton University. As an active member of CERGE-EI’s Executive and Supervisory Committee (ESC), he recently visited us in Prague.

In addition to his faculty position at Princeton, Prof. Farber is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and a Research Fellow of the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).  He is also a Fellow of the Econometric Society, the Society of Labor Economists, and the Labor and Employment Relations Association. Prof. Farber’s current research interests include unemployment, liquidity constraints and labor supply, labor unions, worker mobility, wage dynamics, and analysis of the litigation process.

While at CERGE-EI, he sat down with 1st year PhD student Katka Kobylinski to discuss some of his research and policy ideas. Katka questioned him about the the challenges and achievements of labor economics. She also asked him for his thoughts about labor policy and austerity in US and Europe today, as well as his views about CERGE-EI and its evolution.

Check out the full interview in HD here!:


Economics in the Lab: An Interview with Dr. Peter Katuščák, CERGE-EI Assistant Professor

After presenting his recent working paper, ‘Does Anticipated Regret Really Matter? Revisiting the Role of Feedback in Auction Bidding’, Dr. Peter Katuščák (CERGE-EI Assistant Professor) sat down for an interview with PhD student Liyou G. Borga. In their conversation, Dr. Katuščák discusses his recent paper and other research projects, his view on the efficacy of experimental economics, and several other topics. As an adviser to CERGE-EI students, he also shares his advice about choosing a research topic. Check it out in HD!


Nobel Prize Laureate Eric Maskin Visits CERGE-EI

At the end of April 2013, we had the honor to welcome Prof. Eric Maskin (Harvard University) to CERGE-EI in Prague. On April 29, Prof. Maskin gave a public lecture titled “How to Make the Right Decisions without Knowing People’s Preferences: An Introduction to Mechanism Design”.

To begin his lecture, Prof. Maskin contrasted the field of ‘mechanism design’ with other more familiar parts of economic theory. Whereas the bulk of economics takes existing institutions as a given and aims to understand and explain outcomes delivered by those institutions, mechanism design reverses the direction. It starts by identifying outcomes one wishes to achieve and asks whether institutions are able to be designed to achieve the desired outcome(s) and, if so, what these institutions ought to look like. In this sense, mechanism design can be called an “engineering” component of economic theory.

To further illustrate the concept, Professor Maskin offered three concrete applications of mechanism design theory. They were, in the order presented, (1) how can you divide a plot between two people in a way that neither of them envies the share of the other?, (2) how can a government sell a license to allow transmission over a band of radio frequencies to a company which values it most?, and (3) how to choose a public energy source when individual preferences are different and optimal choice depends on the unknown state of the world? Professor Maskin explained how insights from mechanism design theory can provide answers to these intractable questions.

Simple as they are, these examples illustrate key features of mechanism design. First, a designer of the mechanism does not know what the optimal outcomes should be. Secondly, the designer must proceed to indirectly convince participants to reveal necessary information. Finally, participants have their own goals and motivations which may not coincide with those of the designer. Therefore, the mechanism must be ‘incentive compatible’—in other words, it should recognize those goals and reconcile them with those of the designer.

The examples presented during the lecture displayed transparent mechanisms that are implemented to achieve the designer’s goals. For those interested in a general way to understand whether a goal is implementable and, if it is, how to find a mechanism to implement it, Professor Maskin referred to his seminal paper, “Nash Equilibrium and Welfare Optimality.” Professor Maskin concluded with some further examples of possible future applications of mechanism design theory, namely the development of an international treaty on greenhouse gas emissions and the design of policies to prevent financial crises.

While here, Professor Maskin also sat down with CERGE-EI student Maxim Guryunov for a brief interview. Check out the highlights on our CERGE-EI Youtube Channel:

Find the full list of Distinguished Speaker Series at CERGE-EI here