Me and My Web Sites

Teaching and blogging on the cutting edge of economics.

The Cutting Edge – Kendo fencing

My personal blog is at Autos and Economics on Blogspot; course pages are on the right.

My academic research is anchored by participation in two organizations. One is GERPISA, a global network of academics who work on the contemporary auto industry. I joined their steering committee in January 2016. The other is the Industry Studies Association (with origins in the MIT International Motor Vehicle Program and other Sloan Foundation programs). In the past I was active in the Business History Conference, the Japan Economic Seminar (now effectively defunct), and the Society of Automotive Historians. I’ve spoken twice at the University of Michigan Transportation Research, at the annual Federal Reserve auto industry conference in Detroit, at the National Association of US-Japan Societies, and in briefings on Japan for the US Department of State. I’m also a member of the American Advisory Board to the Japan Foundation and the past several years have done fellowship reviews for Fulbright, the NEH and the US Department of Education. I have been a judge for the past 24 years of the Automotive News PACE Award, which recognizes supplier innovation. As part of that I’ve visited suppliers in Korea, Japan, the US, Canada and France.

me&pickup

 No finesse to my cutting edge

Outside of academics, I am active in community service, particularly the United Way of Rockbridge, where I’m a board member, past president, past chair of allocations, fundraising, and audit committees … you get the picture. I enjoy choral singing (Bass II, the real men), in the W&L Men’s Glee Club, the Rockbridge Choral Society, and at Good Shepherd Lutheran. When I can gather a sufficient group, I teach introductory kendo, and was for many years advisor to a local Venture Crew.
Oh, and I did a weekly radio show Thursday mornings for WREL AM 1450, until they changed their format this year and dropped most local programing. I’ve also done a couple hours of NPR shows, and lots of other media interviews (but only about an hour of TV).

A bit on myself. After graduating from Harvard and working in Japan (and spending endless hours learning to read Japanese) I worked on Wall Street as part of a Eurodollar syndication unit that was part of the initial postwar-WWII revival of international finance in the late 1970s. Banks were flush with petrodollars, and Brazil was thought creditworthy. Commodity prices were on the rise, their manufacturing exports were growing, Ministry of Finance officials spoke banker lingo, and Brazil had a queue of investment projects that made sense. In the end, however, every single loan on which I worked – the bulk of them to Brazil – went bad. My first taste of that was representing Japanese banks at the 1979-80 IMF refinancing exercise for Jamaica. I headed to Yale for a PhD in economics before Brazil hit the wall…but by that point insiders could clearly see the end approaching.

In grad school I headed to Japan for dissertation research, to look at technical change in supplier networks. That resulted in a book on the Japanese auto parts industry (Competitive Ties, Columbia 1991), and I’ve been pegged as both a “Japan” and an “auto industry” person ever since. I began teaching at Washington and Lee University in 1986, and (except for research stints overseas) have been here ever since. In recent years there’s been little interest in Japan, so my teaching focuses more on China. I’ve spent several months there over the years (plus time in Korea, the Philippines and Germany), and can now work my way through Chinese-language materials on the economy and on the auto industry.

I hope to have a book out fall 2016, co-authored with Peter Warrian of the Munk School at the University of Toronto. I’ll update this once more details are in place (such as the title).

Fall 2016

I’m on sabbatical Fall 2016, back teaching in January 2017. Before the end of the year I should have a co-authored book published, and be well along on a second. A bit of blogging. Some non-profit work, call it unpaid consulting. A conference in Torino that (I’m told) will include a tour of the Maserati plant. Supplier visits for the Automotive News PACE competition. Perhaps choral singing, though my late-fall travel may block out concert dates and rule that out.

Fall 2015

I’m teaching 3 classes; click to jump to the relevant course web page:

  • Econ 243: Economics of Business Strategy, MWF 1:25p-2:20p Huntley 321
  • Econ 274: China’s Economy, MWF 11:15 am – 12:10 pm Huntley 220
  • Econ 398: Senior Capstone: Macroeconomics, MWF 9:05 am – 10:00 am Huntley 321

Winter 2014

China’s Modern Economy: Economics 274

The Winter 1013-14 version is archived at the course web site, including the syllabus, schedule and readings here. I have not erased any of the student blog posts, which will however be found below those of more recent terms.

Prequisites are Economics 101 and Economics 102 (micro & macro “principles”). The course does not use much math.
Senior Capstone: Economimcs 398 – Modern Macroeconomics
This web site including syllabus, texts and schedule and archives of previous iterations is at http://econ398.academic.wlu.edu. I have not erased any of the student blog posts, which will however be found below those of more recent terms.

Both web sites include archives from previous terms.

Fall 2014 Classes

China’s Modern Economy: MWF 11:15 am – 12:10 pm

The Fall 2014 version will be use about 30% new material relative to Winter 2014 and will be revised according.

This web site including syllabus, texts and schedule for the Fall 2013 version of Econ 274 is at http://econ274.academic.wlu.edu.

Prequisites are Economics 101 and Economics 102 (micro & macro “principles”). The course will not use much math.
Industrial Organization: MWF 1:25 pm – 2:20 pm
This web site including syllabus, texts and schedule for the Fall 2014 version of Econ 243 is athttp://econ243.academic.wlu.edu.

Both web sites include archives from previous terms.

Fall 2013 classes

Industrial Organization: MWF 1:25 pm – 2:20 pm
This web site including syllabus, texts and schedule for the Fall 2013 version of Econ 243 is here.

China’s Modern Economy: MWF 11:15 am – 12:10 pm

The Winter 1013-14 version will be similar, albeit with improvements based on my experience using two new books and associated readings.

This web site including syllabus, texts and schedule for the Fall 2013 version of Econ 274 is here.

Prequisites are Economics 101 and Economics 102 (micro & macro “principles”). The course will not use much math.

Both web sites include archives from previous terms.