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Social Science

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300 Jay Street
Namm Hall 611 (N-611)
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Phone: 718-260-5080

Administrative Assistant
Budwattie Ramlall

Research Spotlight

Department of Social Science Colloquium Presentation, Unurjargal Nyambuu (PhD)

Thursday, May 18, 1-2pm
Namm 601A

Financing Economic Development: The Role of External Debt in Emerging Economies

My research assesses different external financing sources for economic development, highlighting the sustainability of external debt. A lack of external debt, for certain developing countries, may not allow for the development of needed infrastructure. On the other hand, over-dependence on external debt for both public and private debts may lead to a debt crisis. I show that for resource-rich countries that used their resources as collateral and have borrowed large sums, default risk increased, sometimes leading to a debt crisis. The obvious implication is that the default probability, and therefore the yield, on sovereign issues will rise, thus increasing borrowing costs. I discuss how external debt might be used as a warning signal in certain situations. Read the flyer

Guest Lecture by Visiting Philosopher, Cansu Canca (PhD)

1-2pm, Thursday, September 22.
Namm 1003

No Pressure, But Could We Have Your Organs?


The current system of organ donation fails to meet the needs of patients waiting for a transplant. Two policies have the potential to overcome this problem and save lives: a market in organs and the mandatory procurement of organs. However, both policies face criticisms for violating individual autonomy. When a poor individual decides to sell a kidney in a regulated market, is she acting autonomously or under coercion? When a deceased person’s organs are procured for transplantation regardless of the individual’s and the family’s wishes, is their autonomy violated? In this talk, I argue that even if the suppliers in current and futures market in organs are typically financially desperate, this does not make their action coerced. On the other hand, while mandatory procurement of organs from the living certainly violates individual autonomy, the argument from autonomy fails to make a strong case against the mandatory procurement of organs from the deceased.


Cansu CANCA is a Lecturer in Medical Ethics at the LKS Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). She has a PhD in philosophy specializing in ethics, with a focus on population level bioethics. Prior to joining HKU, she was a project coordinator at an NIH funded research ethics initiative based at Harvard Medical School. She pursued her research in bioethics in various institutions including the Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Law School, World Health Organization, and Osaka University. Her current research concentrates on human subject research and performance enhancements in sports and arts.

The Social Science Research Spotlight features the work of
Professor Sean P. MacDonald, Assistant Professor of Economics

Research interests and current projects:

Conferences and Papers
My current research interests and work are focused on statewide and national policy issues surrounding the economic impact of the collapse of the housing market, the foreclosure crisis and the weak recovery from the “Great Recession.”

I completed work on two research papers (with co-author Eric Doviak, Brooklyn College) which address various aspects of the housing-led economic downturn during spring and summer 2011. The first paper, “Who Defaults? Who Goes Into Foreclosure”? will be presented at the 64th Annual Conference of the New York State Economics Association in Rochester, New York, September 23 – 25. Following the conference, we plan to submit the paper for publication in the Association’s annual New York State Economic Review.

The paper was also presented at a series of Economics Department seminars held at the CUNY Graduate Center in April 2011 and at the University of New Haven in May 2011.

The second paper “Who Enters the Foreclosure Process”? examines the success rate of various federal loan modification programs that have been aimed at resolving the epidemic problem of troubled loans in preventing progression to foreclosure. The paper will be submitted to the Eastern Economic Association for presentation at their annual conference in Boston Ma., in Feb. 2012. The paper will then be submitted with the goal of having it accepted for publication in the quarterly Eastern Economic Journal.

Plans for the near-term on this theme include a time series analysis of housing market weakness and foreclosure trends over the business cycle from the post-war era to the present. This research will examine the relationship of labor market recoveries to housing market trends. “Foreclosure, Labor Markets and the Business Cycle: 1946 – 2011”

Finally, I have begun work on another paper project, “Predatory Lending in Underserved New York State Communities:  Evidence from Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Data, 2004 – 2008.”  My goal is to complete a preliminary draft of the paper by early November 2011 in time for submission to the Eastern Economic Association for presentation at their March 2012 conference.  

I have also had a long-term interest in examining the implications for the future direction of the U.S. economy of policy decisions that have restructured the income tax system and weakened commitment to the nation’s social safety net programs since the early 1970’s. Plans are to begin working on an outline for this paper in late 2011 and to have a completed draft by summer 2012. This research will expand upon and update earlier unpublished papers on this theme.

Recent Achievements
In September 2010, I and co-author (Eric Doviak) published a joint paper, “Forecasting the New York State Economy with Terraced VARs and Coincident Indices” in the New York Economic Review, (vol. 41, Fall 2010, 14-34). The paper was presented at the New York State Economics Association’s 62nd annual conference in Ithaca, New York in October 2009 and at the annual conference of the Eastern Economics Association in Philadelphia, Pa. in February 2010.

I also presented paper, Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in Subprime Mortgage Lending: Evidence from Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Data, 2004 – 2008” at the Fifth Annual City Tech Research Conference, April 1, 2011.