Merih Uctum—professor of economics and former interim associate dean at Brooklyn College’s Koppelman School of Business—believes one of the main goals of an economist is to help the general public understand what happens when economies are impacted by world events on a global level. She also believes that it is vital that everyone, not just academics and scholars, be able to understand international economics. Having been in the “thick-of-the-action” as a research economist at the International Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and as an adviser to the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee, it has been her job to make sense of the reports and events that happen globally and their impact on the United States, and, as a result, the state economies. We asked Uctum how her expertise is making a difference.

BC: You’ve been an adviser for nine years for the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee. What are your responsibilities?

MU: The committee’s goal is to forecast revenues for the state and the city. Advisors role is as contributors to the discussion of what economic factors might affect revenues. To understand what’s going on with the state and city budget, you need to know the economic events that will influence them locally, nationally, and internationally. Anything happening around the globe affects the United States, and then what happens in the United States, in turn, affects the state revenue. My role is mainly to analyze global factors that affect our economy and figure out the implications for the state of New York.

BC: Who else do you work with?

MU: I work with the Board of Economic Advisors, which is composed of the chief economists from leading investment banks, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and myself. The current members of the board are professionals such as Hugh Johnson from Hugh Johnson Advisors; Abby Cohen, former senior investment strategist at Goldman Sachs and a notable figure in Barron’s ”100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance”; and Jason Bram, economic research advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Past members also included representatives from HIS Markit, an information service provider, which merged with S&P Global; other vice presidents from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; and the former chief economist of the New York Stock Exchange.

BC: What are some of your specific duties?

MU: Annually in November, the committee contacts the board members to determine our participation in the annual meeting and sets the date of the meeting around mid-December. About 10–15 days before the meeting, we receive the confidential report and a list of questions to which the committee would like for us to address during our discussion. Though I begin preparing for my report in September, these last couple of weeks require the most intensive work as I need to read the report of the committee, provide my own comments and analysis, and prepare my report tailored to the list of questions provided. This year, the meeting took place remotely on December 13.

BC: How else are you lending your expertise?

MU: In addition to my role on the Board of Economic Advisors, I am also serving on the Advisory Board of the Independent Budget Office of NYC, where the board members are appointed by the public advocate and the comptroller. This independent and publicly funded body provides nonpartisan information on the city’s budget, monitors it, and reviews the mayor’s proposal. Furthermore, the agency is also tasked with monitoring and reporting on various aspects of the NYC Department of Education.

More about Merih Uctum

Merih Uctum is a professor of economics. Uctum has taught courses at the undergraduate level on global economies, macroeconomics, money, and banking, and at the doctoral level on international macroeconomics and finance, macroeconomics, and econometrics. She is a dissertation adviser at the Ph.D. level. Her research focuses on fiscal solvency, sustainability of foreign debt, and intertemporal solvency; international portfolio flows and foreign direct investment; financial crises, exchange rates and choice of currency regimes; and corporate profits. Prior to joining Brooklyn College, she served as research economist at the International Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Her areas of expertise include global economies and markets, their interconnections, empirical analyses of problems and issues related to this context, international indebtedness of countries and governments, financial development, and capital flows. Uctum holds a Ph.D., Queen’s University (Canada) in economics; an M.A., McMaster University (Canada) in economics; and a diploma, Essex University (United Kingdom) in economics.