Frederick C. Dirks Professor of International Economics
I am a professor in Economics and an affiliate of Middlebury’s programs in International Politics and Economics and Russian and East European Studies.
My research focuses on the evolution of markets and market-supporting institutions in post-socialist countries, most particularly Russia. Currently, I am involved in projects relating to land rights, business associations, and deposit markets. In recent years, my research has received support from the National Council on Eurasian and East European Research and the International Research and Exchanges Board and I have held visiting researcher positions at the Bank of Finland’s Institute for Economies in Transition and the Higher School of Economics’ (Moscow) Institute for Industrial and Market Studies.
I teach courses in microeconomics, institutional economics and the economics of the post-socialist transition.
I have a B.A. in History from Harvard College (magna cum laude), an M.A. in Russian and East European Studies from Indiana University and a Ph.D. from Duke University in Economics.
I live in the town of Middlebury, just a short walk from the College, with my wife, Silvia, and two sons, Matias and Lucas.
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
ECON 0155 - Intro Microeconomics
An introduction to the analysis of such microeconomic problems as price formation (the forces behind demand and supply), market structures from competitive to oligopolistic, distribution of income, and public policy options bearing on these problems. 3 hrs. lect.
ECON 0230 - Transformation in Eurasia
Comparative Transformation in Eurasia
In this course we will explore the transformation over the past generation of Eurasia’s formerly socialist economies. We will focus on the experiences of the region’s two largest countries, Russia and China. Though the main focus is on economic aspects of the transformation, we will also pay attention to the political and historical forces that have influenced the process. (ECON 0150 or ECON 0155; or by approval) 3 hrs. lect.
Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013
ECON 0255 - Micro Theory
Microeconomic theory concentrates on the study of the determination of relative prices and their importance in shaping the allocation of resources and the distribution of income in an economy. We will study the optimizing behavior of households in a variety of settings: buying goods and services, saving, and labor supply decisions. We will also examine the behavior of firms in different market structures. Together, the theories of household and firm behavior help illumine contemporary economic issues (discrimination in labor markets, mergers in the corporate world, positive and negative externalities, for example). (MATH 0121 and ECON 0155) 3 hrs. lect.
Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014
ECON 0430 - Post-Communist Econ Transition
The Post-Communist Economic Transition
This seminar will use the “natural experiment” of the post-communist transition to better understand the origin and consequences of various economic and political institutions. Drawing on research related to China and Russia as well as other formerly communist economies in Europe and Asia, we will explore such themes as property rights reform, the finance-growth nexus, contract enforcement institutions, and the economic consequences of corruption and different political regimes. (Formerly ECON 0340) (ECON 0210 or MATH 0310 or MATH 0311 and ECON 0240 or ECON 0250, or by approval)
Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014
ECON 0500 - Individual Special Project
Individual Special Project
If you choose to pursue an area that we do not offer or go in depth in an area already covered, we recommend the Individual Special Project option. These ECON 0500 proposals MUST be passed by the entire department and are to be submitted to the chair by the first Friday of fall and spring semester, respectively. The proposals should contain a specific description of the course contents, its goals, and the mechanisms by which goals are to be realized. It should also include a bibliography. According to the College Handbook, ECON 0500 projects are a privilege open to those students with advanced preparation and superior records in their fields. A student needs to have a 3.5 or higher G.P.A. in Economics courses taken at Middlebury in order to pursue an Individual Special Project. ECON 0500 does not count towards the major or minor requirements.
Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014
ECON 0700 - Senior Research
Senior Research Workshop
Prior to enrolling in ECON 0700, students must have taken a minimum of 6 economics courses at Middlebury approved to count towards the major requirements. These senior workshops will be composed of no more than eight students who will work independently on a project in a specific area for two semesters (fall/winter or winter/spring) and will meet to collectively discuss and present their research. Students who have prearranged a research topic with the professor will be given priority in admission to the seminar. Also, because of limited resources for guiding senior work, students with a single major in economics will be given priority over double majors who will do senior work in other departments. Students interested in pursuing departmental honors must take a Senior Research Workshop (ECON 0700) during their senior year. To receive departmental honors the student must receive a minimum grade of A- in the Senior Research Workshop project and have a 3.5 or higher GPA in all economics courses taken at Middlebury approved to count towards the major requirements. High Honors requires an A in the Senior Research Seminar and a 3.75 or higher economics GPA, and Highest Honors an A in the seminar and a 3.9 or higher economics GPA. (Approval required)
Winter 2012, Spring 2012
FYSE 1227 - Whither Russia
Over just the course of your lifetime, it might seem as if Russia – a country of rich cultural heritage, tremendous geographic size, military might, and natural resource wealth – has been thoroughly transformed. What kind of country has it become since the Soviet Union dissolved? To what extent has it democratized and integrated into the global economy? How have its people fared during this period? The answers to these questions remain the source of much debate. In this seminar we will explore the how’s and why’s of Russia’s transformation, addressing the consequences for its people and its global role. e)
IGST 0447 / ECON 0337 / PSCI 0337 - Democ/Develop/Globalization
Democracy, Development, and Globalization
In this course we will address crucial issues that both economists and political scientists have considered fundamental to their disciplines: how nations become democratic, develop economically, and confront globalization and regionalism. We will focus on theories that come from various disciplines to explain these phenomena. Following several weeks of theoretical discussion, we will focus on case studies from Latin America, Europe, Russia, Eastern Europe, and China. Our approach will focus on integrating various disciplines to understand these inherently interdisciplinary issues. Students will be expected to write research papers that will utilize foreign language sources, as appropriate. This course is equivalent to ECON 0337 and PSCI 0337.
IGST 0704 - EAS Senior Thesis ▹
Latin American Studies Senior Thesis
Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Spring 2015
INTL 0701 - REES Senior Thesis
Russian and East European Studies Senior Thesis
Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Winter 2012
IPEC 0500 - Independent Project ▲ ▹
Fall 2010, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
IPEC 0700 - Intl.Pol.&Economics SR. Thesis ▲ ▹
Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Winter 2012, Winter 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015