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Economic Experts Take Center Stage at DBA Program

Faculty discuss volatility in the economy; students present posters reflecting their research projects

From left are Professor Lucjan Orlowski, DBA candidate Carolyne Cebrian Soper and Bluford H. Putnam.

Esteemed speakers addressed the nation’s economic issues during an afternoon of lectures, research presentations and professional networking last November.

The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Finance program hosted the event at its Graduate Center in Stamford. John Chalykoff, dean of the Jack Welch College of Business, offered opening remarks.

Bluford H. Putnam, chief economist for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group, delivered the keynote presentation, titled, “The Weakening Link Between Inflation and Central Bank Balance Sheets.” Putnam discussed topics such as the decreased economic influence of central banks, problems with assumptions in inflation models, and policy implications of the changing financial landscape.

Lucjan T. Orlowski, professor and director of SHU’s DBA in Finance program, and Kwamie Dunbar, associate professor of finance and associate dean, presented a seminar titled, “Volatility of Futures Markets and the Real Economy.”

“It speaks very highly about the program that we have world-class economists like Dr. Bluford Putnam visiting to speak with us,” said second-year DBA student Carolyne Cebrian-Soper, who chairs the business department at Lincoln College in Southington. “Just that major financial industry leaders are talking to me about my research — on topics that they deal with day-in and day-out — and that they’re exploring my ideas and providing feedback is amazing.”

Monika Sywak, also a second-year DBA student, said Putnam, in particular, raised many interesting points about how the financial markets have changed in the past decade. “He gave us a lot of food for thought, as he mentioned the major shifts in the global economy and financial markets that he has observed,” said Sywak, who serves as senior regulatory manager at GE Capital. “Principles don’t apply exactly the same as they used to. For instance, he mentioned that the traditional definition of money doesn’t work anymore, and that’s a problem, because if we don’t know what money is, how do we evaluate the financial markets and the economy? And what future implications does that carry?”

Orlowski, who organized the event as part of a grant he received from the CME Group Foundation, agreed with the students’ assessments. “Bluford’s comments generated so many fertile ideas for future research and exploration, particularly by our doctoral students,” he said. “We’re thrilled that our program has grown in recognition to the point where we can have guests as distinguished as Dr. Putnam come and share his thoughts and experience at our campus.”

Following the lectures, four second-year students in the DBA in Finance program presented posters for their research projects:

  • “Commodity Pricing and Inflation Expectations” — Monika Sywak
  • “An Analysis of the VIX Volatility Index on the US Treasuries, Specifically During the Periods of Quantitative Easing” — Carolyne Cebrian-Soper
  • “Is the Oil Shock Dead?” — Cecilia Mundt
  • “Investigation of the Relationship Between US Dollar-Euro Exchange Rate and Short-term Market Rates Policy” — Johnson Owusu-Amoako

“The research projects and the poster presentations were great — these are good questions that they’re working on; they’re getting very good exposure to financial data, and they’re learning all about how hard it is to work with data,” said Putnam, who has more than 35 years of experience in the financial services industry, with concentrations in central banking, investment research and portfolio management. “The big problem that all studies have is 2008, when the world changed so much. We went to zero rates and stayed there, so any model that depends on interest rates doesn’t work anymore. And interest rates are in almost every project the Sacred Heart students have, so they’re right in the middle of the right questions.”

CME Group Foundation is endowed by CME Group for the purpose of providing academic grants. CME Group is the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, handling 3 billion contracts worth approximately $1 quadrillion annually (on average). Putnam has worked as its managing director and chief economist since May 2011. He also serves as the group’s spokesperson on global economic conditions and manages external research initiatives.