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Economist Keeps Asking ‘Why?’

Financial Questions Fuel Pedro Amaral's Research
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Pedro Amaral began studying economics to answer questions.

Why is it that the standards of living differ so much across countries?

Why is it that some 13 percent of the U.S. population, roughly 40 million people, still live in poverty?

“Once you start thinking about these sort of questions, it’s hard to think about anything else, given their importance,” said the associate professor of economics who joined the CSUF faculty this fall.

“When I got into college,” he said of his studies at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, “I already knew I wanted to take economics.” His interests in economic development and macroeconomics grew as he earned a master’s degree and doctorate in economics at the University of Minnesota, and again, the fundamental questions called to him.

Similar questions now fuel his research. He penned a chapter on the Great Depression in Canada and the United States in the book “Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century” and multiple publications on wages, unemployment, economic development, interest rates and federal debt.

What areas of continued scholarship and research interest you?

My research interests straddle the fields of macroeconomics and economic development. I’m interested both in short-term fluctuations, as well as in longer-term trends in economic performance. In particular, I’m interested in how variations in financial development across countries contribute to differences in overall gross domestic product performance. I also have an interest in the Great Depression as an episode that can help us learn about future crises.

What do you hope future business leaders learn from your instruction and expertise?

I hope they get a sense of the wide cross-country variation that exists both in economic context and outcomes. Policy recipes are not universal. What might work for a particular economy in a particular situation might not apply outside that context.