International College of Economics and Finance

Third International Moscow Finance Conference

"One goal is to stimulate research on financial markets and institutions in Russia and to establish the Higher School of Economics, and ICEF and the Laboratory of Financial Economics in particular, as centers of that research"

"One goal is to stimulate research on financial markets and institutions in Russia and to establish the Higher School of Economics, and ICEF and the Laboratory of Financial Economics in particular, as centers of that research"

On November 8-9, 2013 the HSE International Laboratory of Financial Economics (LFE) at the International College of Economics and Finance (ICEF),  is hosting the Third International Moscow Finance Conference. The conference will bring world-class experts in the field to the HSE to discuss the latest global issues and research on financial economics. The HSE news service asked Assistant Professor at the ICEF and Head of the LFE, Carsten Sprenger to tell us about what he hopes the conference will achieve.

— It’s the third International Moscow Finance conference, what are the goals this time around? And how will it be different from the previous meetings?

— As in the past, we have invited a number of top international researchers in financial economics. One goal is to stimulate research on financial markets and institutions in Russia and to establish the Higher School of Economics, and ICEF and the Laboratory of Financial Economics in particular, as centers of that research. Often it is only possible to invite leading international researchers through personal contacts. Here we could rely on Christian Julliard who is the Academic Director of our laboratory at ICEF and professor at the London School of Economics with his personal contact network, and also our colleagues Alexei Boulatov and Udara Peiris who helped to invite first-class scholars. We have tried to strike a balance between presentations by our invited speakers from abroad and by our local faculty. Among the Moscow-based researchers who will give papers at the conference are faculty members of ICEF and the New Economic School. Our invited speakers will lead discussions on the work presented by local faculty, and thus help us to improve our papers and to publish them in the best international journals. Of course a conference is always a social event as well where we and our guests make new contacts and spread the word about ourselves and the institutions where we work. The format of the conference has not changed much. However, we have managed to invite TWO keynote speakers this year.

— Can you tell us something about the participants? What was the selection criteria for inviting these particular experts?

— Let me start with our two keynote speakers. Both keynote speeches will be on the first day of the conference, on Friday, November 8. We hope to attract a broader audience -- practitioners in the financial industry, economists of other fields, and students. We are glad that we were able to convince Rajnish Mehra, a leading specialist in the areas of asset pricing and macroeconomics, currently professor of finance at the University of Luxembourg, to give a keynote speech. His talk is concerned with the question of whether the dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models that economists and Central bankers use all over the world imply that prices of financial assets are predictable.

Our second keynote speaker is Marco Pagano, one of the leading European experts in financial economics. He will talk about the European debt crisis, which continues to call for our attention. There are many great Italian economists, but only a few of them work in Italy, and Marco is one of them.

When we chose speakers for the conference we stayed close to the research areas of the members of our group, which range from market microstructure, corporate finance to option pricing and financial econometrics. I invite the readers to take a look at the conference program and attend the keynote speeches and conference sessions on November 8 and 9.

— What are the challenges facing financial economists in the world today? What is specific and different for Russia?

— A statement by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on this year's Nobel Prize winners in economics said that Eugene Fama, Lars Hansen and Robert Shiller ‘have laid the foundation for the current understanding of asset prices.’ However, in sharing the prize among financial economists with very different views, the Academy recognizes that the profession has not come to a unique view of the efficiency and underlying rationality of markets. This is not a merely academic question. The deregulation of financial markets in the 1980s and the hands-off position of regulators in the US towards relaxed standards in mortgage lending and the lack of transparency in derivatives markets and securitized instruments are, in my opinion, consequences of a too optimistic view of the rationality and self-regulating forces of financial markets. The recent financial crisis has triggered a lot of research about the contagion of crises in globalized markets. But there are many puzzles left about how prices of assets evolve or, to name a different field, about financial decision making by corporations. For students who feel an inclination to research there are definitely enough questions that are waiting to be answered. Empirical research on Russia as an emerging market with many imperfections could be particularly valuable if it is done to a high standard. Hopefully, our conference can help to create interest in these questions.

— You've been working at the HSE for several years. You speak Russian. What do you find appealing about living and working in Moscow? And what are your own research plans for the future?

— I would say the most appealing part is working in a fast developing institution where I have the feeling that my contribution is valued and welcomed. Living in Moscow is a challenge, but many things in the university and in Moscow in general have changed for the better during the six years that I have been at the Higher School of Economics. Knowing Russian of course helps me to communicate with students and colleagues. When I see open-minded intelligent students I am inclined to believe that Russia has a great development potential. My personal plan is to keep working on my research projects, of which many are related to Russia. One of them is my paper on the effects of nationalization in Russia that I will present at the conference. I would like to see our Laboratory become a well-known research center that attracts scholars from all over the world and produces meaningful research.

The HSE news service >>

Pictures of the ICEF Conference 2013: