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SOP(s) from 2008

Kaustav Das's SOP

Name: Kaustav Das; Date of birth : 08-11-1984; Program: Economics PhD.

I was introduced to economics during my undergraduate studies, when I opted for Economics major at the prestigious Presidency College, Kolkata, India in 2003. I realized that this branch of social science was defined by precise rules, principles and axioms. Yet, there was considerable room for self-expression through interpretation and analysis. At Presidency College, I was introduced to a broad array of courses covering macroeconomics, microeconomics, public finance and quantitative tools like linear algebra, multivariate calculus, linear programming and mathematical statistics. It was during my days in Presidency College that I became seriously interested in economics and decided to pursue the subject for further studies after my Bachelors degree.

At this point I had also come to appreciate the importance of quantitative methods and analytical rigor for economic analysis. Thus I decided to pursue the Master of Science in Quantitative Economics (MSQE) program at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata (ISI) in 2006. I chose this program despite other attractive options: I had the opportunity of joining the Masters program at Delhi School of Economics (Obtained 8th position at the All India level Examination) and the one at School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, (Obtained 1st position at the all India level entrance examination).

During the MSQE program, which I expect to complete in May 2008, I have been exposed to various modern tools used in economic analysis. These include rigorous training in real analysis, linear algebra, optimal control theory, econometrics, time series techniques and game theory. I have taken advanced level courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and modern growth theory. Exposure to these subjects has provided me with the opportunity to apply my quantitative skills. It has also made me eager for a further generous dose of economic theory. Therefore, after completing the MSQE program, I want to pursue graduate studies in economics, with the ultimate aim of carrying out independent research and analysis.

Although I am keeping an open mind about the ultimate area of specialization, I have thought about some areas more than others. Some areas of interest for me are given below.

New Keynesian economics is one area that interests me. At ISI I came across the work of Mankiw(1985,1987), Akerlof and Yellen(1985), Blanchard and Kiyotaki(1987), Stiglitz and Weiss(1981), Oliver Hart(1982), Shapiro and Stiglitz (1984), Bernanke(1983),Blinder(1987),Bernanke and Blinder(1988). Exposure to their work has fuelled my interest in this particular area. I would like to study how Keynesian features can arise in a model with fully flexible prices but with agents retaining some monopoly power. My intended line of analysis will ideally be along the path taken by Hart (1982). However, while Hart’s analysis is static, I would like to carry out a dynamic analysis and also incorporate uncertainty and information asymmetry into the model. A number of additional issues like analysis of saving and investment, risk attitudes of agents, will certainly crop up.

International economics is another area that I am drawn to. Game theoretic modeling of issues pertaining to international economics and the new trade theory using the Dixit & Stiglitz(1977) framework fascinates me. The issues like “intra industry trade” and “trade policy and market structure” attracts me a lot and I dream to make further contributions to these areas. Seminal papers like Krugman(1981), Dixit (1984), Brander and Spencer (1981, 1984, 1985), Dixit and Grossman (1986), Jones (1987) introduced me to the main issues of this area.

Dynamic General Equilibrium is another area of my interest. At ISI I came across seminal works in this area such as Samuelson(1958), Gale(1972), Cass-Okuno –Zilcha(1979),Balasko and Shell(1980,1981),Tirole (1985) , Bose and Ray(1993). I intend to check how the results of standard optimal growth models change once we introduce imperfect competition in the goods market.

During my graduate studies, I intend to get familiar with advanced quantitative tools and develop my capacity for analytical research. I would like to take advanced level courses in game theory to append to my rigorous training of the subject at ISI. Thus trained, I can explore issues pertaining to the problems of developing economies like polarization, conflicts, corruption and social capital from the framework/viewpoint of game theory.

Given these interests, the economics department at University of Rochester is a place I dream of belonging to. The help and guidance that I would then be able to obtain from the distinguished faculty at Rochester will sufficiently equip me for an academic career in teaching and research. The opportunity to study at your prestigious institution will, I am sure, provide me with an exciting, nurturing, competitive environment that will bring out the best in me.

(Kaustav Das)

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